Praise ETCH Staff
And Program; 13 Of
16 Homes Now Built
BY SARAH GREGORY
The state's top officials for the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (DIDD), Department of Children's Services (DCS), and Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS) visited Greeneville Tuesday to tour some of East Tennessee Community Homes' (ETCH) facilities.
DIDD Commissioner Debra Payne traveled with former DIDD Commissioner Jim Henry, now commissioner of DCS, and Doug Varney, commissioner of TDMHSAS.
The three visited Greeneville for a few hours as part of a tour of Northeast Tennessee facilities that are supported by DIDD funding.
13 OF 16 BUILT
Currently, ETCH operates 13 community homes in various areas of Greene County for residents transitioning from Greene Valley Developmental Center to live in the community.
Earlier this year, the Parent-Guardian Association of Greene Valley Developmental Center voted to embrace the homes.
Three more homes are under construction and are expected to be completed in May 2014.
That will bring the total number of ETCH facilities in Greene County to 16.
Groundbreaking for the final phase of the construction project was held in May.
A 'WONDERFUL' PROGRAM
The ETCH program, Payne, Henry, and Varney all agreed, is a plus for the residents and the state as a whole.
"It's a wonderful opportunity for people to have more personal care and to live in a home of their own," Payne said.
Funding and construction of the homes, she said, were "a long road to travel," but the end-result has proven worth it.
"I think people are very happy," she said. "Once people got in the homes, and their families got in to see them -- it's just been wonderful."
DIDD conducts surveys to track families' satisfaction with the quality of care residents receive, the staff at ETCH, and the condition the homes are in.
"We keep a real close eye on any issues that families may have," Payne said, adding that, at the Greene County homes, families have been "very, very happy and satisfied."
Henry was Commissioner of DIDD when construction of the ETCH residences began in 2010.
He said he was excited to be able to see the "end product" and personally tour the homes.
"It's just perfect. It's everything we dreamed it would be. People are happy. They've got individualized treatment. They can individualize their menus. This is home.
"It's a completely different setting, I think, than what the residents are used to," he said, adding that residents are "having a really good time here with the staff."
PRAISE FOR THE STAFF
The right staff, Varney said, is the key to ETCH's success.
"The folks here [in Greene County] really seem to enjoy their work. They really care," Varney said.
"Margi Story [Director of ETCH] has done a great job" running the program, he said.
"I had not been to one of the homes before. I was telling both the [other] commissioners, 'This is wonderful.' I am so proud of our state that we're doing this kind of program," he said.
"It's something we can be proud of as Tennesseeans."
One of the best benefits of the ETCH homes, Payne said, is the level of freedom residents enjoy.
"They decide what they want to do every day, which is really nice," she said, adding that it "cannot be stressed enough how wonderful" the ETCH staff in Greeneville is.
Touring ETCH homes on Buckingham Road in Greeneville was the final stop on the commissioners' tour before returning to Nashville.