There was a lot of action this week at the Capitol, with legislative deadlines looming and important legislation on the move. However, there was also a lot of great work being done around government reform and improving services for all Minnesotans.
Today, the Governor stood with Department of Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius to celebrate yet another competitive federal grant award for MDE. Today’s grant money brings the total amount of new money won by the department under the Dayton administration to nearly $119 million. These reforms (and the funding we have won as a result) mean that our state’s schools continue to improve and that Minnesota is returning to a role as a national leader in education.
Earlier this week, Human Services Commissioner Cindy Jesson did a wonderful job of trumpeting her Department’s work to save taxpayers money while still ensuring that their programs serve Minnesotans well. The Department of Human Services has established a new Office of the Inspector General to root out waste and fraud in social service programs.
The Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) is the state’s largest agency, serving well over one million people annually. The department administers a broad range of services, including health care, economic assistance, mental health and substance abuse prevention and treatment. At the helm of the department, Commissioner Lucinda Jesson has engaged in some of the State’s toughest battles over the past year, including keeping services rolling throughout the State Government Shutdown.
This week Politics in Minnesota (subscription required) profiled the work of Commissioner Jesson. The article commends Commissioner Jesson for her perseverance and positive demeanor when dealing with last year’s budget fights.
“She has got one of the toughest commissioner jobs that is out there,” [Minnesota Hospital Association president] Massa says. “She has been very open to working with stakeholders. She is a good communicator. If she thinks something is going to be controversial, she will give us a call or have someone on her staff give us a call.”
Getting Minnesota Back to Work
- Under the Governor’s leadership Minnesota continues to outpace the national economic recovery. Minnesota’s unemployment rate is 5.9 percent, compared to 8.6 percent for the rest of the country. There are 53,000 more Minnesotans at work now, compared to the bottom of the recession.
- Governor Dayton worked to pass a $500 million bonding bill, putting thousands of Minnesotans back to work improving bridges, roads and infrastructure.
For the past six years, Minnesota has worked to eradicate bovine TB and regain its statewide TB-Free Status. With the help of nearly 500 veterinarians, Minnesota producers have tested more than 800,000 head of cattle and Minnesota deer hunters and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources have tested nearly 14,000 wild deer for TB.
Minnesota's efforts have raised the bar in disease eradication by showcasing how producers and local, state, and federal agencies should work together, work quickly, and work effectively to eliminate a disease. To read the proclamation, click here.
According to the release:
In commemoration, a variety of HIV testing and public awareness events are scheduled in Minnesota for the day and through the month of December. This is the 24th time Minnesota has taken part in World AIDS Day.
"World AIDS Day remains a critical observance for us and the world," said Peter Carr, director of the STD and HIV Section, Minnesota Department of Health.
The proclamation notes that "Minnesotans are encouraged to educate themselves about the risks of HIV, know their HIV status through testing, get care if infected, and demonstrate compassion for those infected and affected by HIV and AIDS."
One of the greatest gifts a person can give is opening their heart and home to adopt a child or sibling group from the foster care system. There are thousands of children in foster care in Minnesota, waiting to be adopted by families who can provide safe, permanent homes.
Adopted children have a positive impact on families and bring great happiness and all children deserve to grow up in a nurturing environment where they feel loved, safe, and stable.
Hearing loss is the most commonly diagnosed condition in newborn children. In all 50 states, including Minnesota, hearing screening programs exist to ensure hearing loss in infants is identified shortly after birth. This is crucial because children develop the most basic language and communication skills in the first 6 months of life. If a child with hearing impairments goes undiagnosed until later, even at one or two years of age, they may suffer permanent impairments to speech, language and cognitive ability.
Last year, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) re-evaluated its existing screening program and ultimately improved follow-up services for infants with hearing loss. The Newborn Screening Long Term Follow-up Unit at MDH developed standard operating procedures, clarified staff roles and responsibilities, reduced duplication of effort, and increased the accuracy and completeness of data collected during screening. This helped the team ensure critical follow-up services were provided to impacted children and their families in a timely fashion.
So far, the overall wait time for families in need of follow-up services has been reduced on average from 74 days to 33 days, and the improved process has ensured families are connected with the targeted services that they need. In the first days of a child’s life, that time and attention to detail are of the utmost importance.
Health care is a core economic foundation of many rural communities and regions. Meeting the unique health care needs of Minnesota's rural citizens requires innovation and resourcefulness that reaches beyond geographic boundaries or demographic challenges.
Today, Minnesota's rural health care provides are recognized for meeting those challenges and offering comprehensive, compassionate, patient-centered, and holistic care to patients.
To read the proclamation, click here.