|As I have been meeting with groups of DHS employees to talk about the changes happening in the agency, one of the questions I hear is whether the Transformation Initiative will be left behind in the wake of creating the new Oregon Health Authority. And that's an easy question to answer: not a chance. DHS has done too much, come too far, and seen too many benefits with the Transformation work to give up now.
Ada Widness of CAF self sufficiency in Keizer, using the intake scheduling board, centerpiece of the new intake process.
Over the past two years since we launched the Transformation Initiative we have shown that not only is reinventing government possible, but in a time of unprecedented demand and declining revenues, it is an imperative.
More than 2,000 DHS employees have so far invested their hearts, minds and time into improving DHS services and the way we do our work. Across DHS we're working on more than 100 improvements, and so far the Transformation Initiative has saved or avoided costs equaling $32.9 million. This work has paid off not only in real dollars – helping us be better stewards of the public trust – but in helping us provide higher quality service and meet our mission to ensure that all Oregonians can live independently, safely and well.
These aren't just savings on paper or theories about how things might get better. They are tangible and important. Over the past year you may have heard about how Transformation helped us meet the skyrocketing demand in the SNAP/Food Stamps program. Two other notable improvements came in Seniors and People with Disabilities and at Oregon State Hospital.
As part of its efforts to transform, SPD launched a campaign to reduce the number of Medicaid clients who were unnecessarily entering expensive nursing facilities for long-term care. As a result of the SPD initiative, more than 1,200 people have been transitioned to more appropriate care settings with 41 percent remaining in their own homes. SPD projects a 12-month savings of $17.6 million from this effort and our clients are happier.
Oregon State Hospital has dramatically reduced the number of days it takes for a patient to have a dietary consultation. The wait time went from 150 days to 20 days and the backlog was eliminated. Today, every new patient gets a timely dietary consult, resulting in better care for the patients and $196,000 in benefits between January and September alone.
Another question I often receive is how people who haven't already participated in a transformational event can get involved. To reach as many DHS employees as possible, we have launched an online course through our Learning Center. To get there, go to http://www.dhs.state.or.us/training and select the link for DHS Learning Center. In the course you will learn why we're changing, what our goals are and how we'll work differently in a transformed agency. So far more than 1,100 DHS employees have taken the course and I urge you to take the time to learn more about what Transformation is all about.
The Transformation Initiative work has come at a critical time not only for DHS but for the Oregonians who count on us because it is helping us navigate these very difficult economic times, meet increased demand, and do more with the revenue and resources we have. These are values we will be taking forward as we build the Oregon Health Authority and continue to create a new way of doing business that is more transparent, more accountable, more efficient and will show Oregonians that their government truly does work for them.