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OPWDD invites questions, comments for disability-related webinars

The state Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) has a series of webinars to take place statewide to help answer questions from self-advocates and family members of people with disabilities. The first event will address individuals in the Western New York and Finger Lakes regions on May 26.

“We ask that each person take part in only one forum so that we can hear from as many people as possible,” officials said in a statement this month. “You may choose to provide spoken testimony at the event, submit written testimony or simply listen.”

OPWDD is expecting to address the following questions:
• How should OPWDD meet the growing demand for services throughout a person’s life to assure sustainability, equity and access?
• How can OPWDD include the values of diversity, equity and inclusion throughout the service system?
• How can the direct support and clinical workforce be strengthened to provide quality supports for the people we support?
• How can the OPWDD service system build and sustain a variety of housing supports?
• How can day and employment services better help people to achieve their life goals?
• How can the self-direction program better address the needs of the person and support family caregivers, as well as assure equity of access and sustainability of self-directed supports?
• How can technology be used to support a person’s life goals?
• How can OPWDD, working with other state agencies, best plan for and serve children and adults with complex needs?
• How can OPWDD best use telehealth to meet a person’s clinical needs?
• How can care coordination better support people with complex needs or enhance the skills of care managers?
• What research projects would assist in screening, evaluating, identifying and supporting people with developmental disabilities?

The Region 1 event will take place from 1 to 4 p.m. Tuesday. A Region 2 event has been planned for June 2, followed by an event June 3, June 8 and June 9. Speakers must register in advance and limit their comments to three minutes. All webinars will be recorded and links to the recordings will be posted on OPWDD’s website after the events.

While the deadline to submit comments for the Region 1 event has passed, comments for the Region 2 event can be sent to Jessica Davis at [email protected] up to two days prior to the event. Written testimony can be submitted to [email protected]. More information is available at

[email protected] / 585-653-4021
Follow Velvet Spicer on Twitter: @Velvet_Spicer

Prime Care Coordination to organize services across upstate

Tracy Boff (photo provided)
Tracy Boff
(photo provided)

Thirty organizations in Upstate New York, including 14 in the Finger Lakes region, have come together to form a regional hub to coordinate the care of intellectually and developmentally disabled individuals.

One of six new Care Coordination Organizations (CCO) founded under a new state directive, Prime Care Coordination will organize and direct all of the services a person receives for their developmental disability, as well as the coordination of health, wellness and mental health services through one individualized Life Plan. The Finger Lakes hub is headquartered in the CDS Life Transitions Inc. location in Webster.

The new system is designed to improve and enhance the care coordination for those who had been served under the Medicaid Service Coordination program (MSC).

“This is an incredible time for our community,” said Prime Care Executive Director Tracy Boff. “Many providers have come together to raise the system of care and coordination of services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to a greater level. Our number one priority will always be to work with those we serve to help them reach their goals.”

The MSC program that had been used to coordinate services was replaced on July 1 by a new program called Health Home Care Management. Health Home is a system of providers who will continue to provide the coordination that people currently receive, while also providing coordination of other services, the state Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) announced in March.

“Prime Care Coordination continues the path to managed care by addressing the coordination of each individual’s services,” said CDS Life President and CEO Sankar Sewnauth, at a press gathering this week. “Organizations across upstate, from Buffalo all the way to Binghamton, have come together to form Prime Care Coordination. It’s grassroots. It’s very diverse. And everybody has an equal stake in what goes on at Prime Care Coordination.”

Within the Finger Lakes, organizations involved in the new regional hub include: Baden Street Settlement of Rochester, Boys and Girls Clubs of Rochester, Catholic Charities Community Services, CDS Monarch, the Community Place of Greater Rochester, CP Rochester, Easterseals New York, Epilepsy Pralid, Happiness House, Ibero American Action League, Lifespan, Lochland School, Mary Cariola and the Center for Disability Rights.

“While we all serve different individuals, we found ourselves to be like-minded in our commitment to providing the best person-centered care,” Sewnauth said of the collaborative.

(photo provided)
(photo provided)

“One of the advantages I had was going to partner organizations across the state, meeting MSCs, leaders who were very nervous about this transition and didn’t know what to expect, staff that didn’t know what to expect, but what I can tell you, what I learned along the way is everybody’s dedication and compassion and commitment to the individuals we serve,” said Prime Care Executive Director Tracy Boff. “As soon as I knew that I knew that Prime Care was going to be OK. We’ll build the system, we’ll build the infrastructure, we’ll make that work, but at the end of the day it’s really about the individuals.”

Boff noted that Prime Care was able to keep much of the workforce who had worked as Medicaid Service Coordinators prior to the transition from MSCs to Health Home Care Management.

“I’m confident that in the future we are going to be the best CCO possible and provide the best home health care management possible for all the individuals we serve,” Boff said.

[email protected] / 585-653-4021

Follow Velvet Spicer on Twitter: @Velvet_Spicer