Ricketts takes DHHS business plan on the road

Posted by: Abigail Wood

awood@klkntv.com

You know the saying: if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services is hoping to avoid that this year with their first ever business plan. Wednesday was the official launch, and now the CEO of DHHS, Courtney Phillips, and Governor Pete Ricketts are going town to town to take it to the local DHHS workers.

"They wanted a full continuum of vision of where we were headed over the next year," Phillips said. "Not an ‘after-the-fact’ plan, but they wanted to be aware of a plan going forward so they understood how they fit in for their services and the roles that they played."

The plan has 25 priorities and goals that the agency will focus on this coming year,. Those goals include drug overdose prevention, shorter wait lists, and better economic assistance. Some practical goals are already well on their way. For example, there’s a much shorter hold time when you call the ACCESSNebraska help line.

"In August 2014 it was taking us nearly 24 minutes to answer the phone," Ricketts said. "And now in the last nine months we’ve been at or below our five minute target."

The plan has been on the table since Phillips was hired a year ago, and it’s taken that long to put together. She asked DHHS teams across Nebraska for input. 

"We want it to be a useful tool," she said. "What is needed, what are they getting from it, what else can we add to make it useful for them?"

Another big change:instead of keeping cases separated into groups like ‘family’, ‘behavioral health’, or ‘public health’ like they are now, DHHS wants more coordination.

"A lot of times those that we serve don’t fit into one particular division," Phillips said. "They may need one service in one area and another service in another area, and if we can bring that together then we can better serve that family."

Phillips says many DHHS teams wanted a more accessible and communicative department. She says this plan should help with that.