Commentary: Help committee to re-examine DHHS offerings

The most important person in state government is you.

That’s true no matter whether we’re addressing school funding, bridge construction or the best structure for Delaware’s leading health agency.

The single mom who needs help feeding her family, the son trying to get medicine for his elderly father and everyone else who relies on direct services from the Department of Health and Social Services (DHHS) must be at the heart of every decision we make for that organization.

That is why I’m asking for your input this week as the DHSS Reorganization Committee begins to examine how we can more effectively deliver services to all state residents, particularly patients covered by Medicaid, seniors, people with disabilities and other vulnerable populations.

This work is too important for us to do alone.

The DHSS Reorganization Committee needs to hear from the people whose daily lives are affected by this department.

The good news is we already have dedicated men and women who work at DHSS facilities every day because they are passionate about helping others.

Nicole Poore

The next step is to make sure we are providing them with the tools they need to accomplish their mission, which means we need to ask ourselves whether we have built their agency to be as effective and efficient as it can be.

DHSS was first created by the General Assembly in 1970. Back then, one of its main roles was to operate several state-run hospitals where it placed people with disabilities, the chronically ill and those struggling with mental health issues. Today, we know the vast majority of those vulnerable populations are better served by remaining in their communities whenever possible.

While the mission of DHSS has evolved over time, the organizational structure of the agency has not been holistically reexamined in the last half century. Today, this $1.2 billion agency of 4,500 employees touches on everything from controlling health-care costs and battling addiction to collecting child support payments, providing support services for the elderly and overseeing animal control.

With so much to balance, many have raised concerns about whether DHSS is best serving the needs of the people who need help the most.

As best practices are shared from state to state, an open dialogue about how we can meet the changing demands of our vulnerable populations is essential. The information we gather from service providers, clients, advocates and the general public will help us position DHSS for positive outcomes in the years ahead.

Our first meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday in the second-floor auditorium of the Carvel State Office Building at 820 N. French St. in Wilmington. Future meetings also will seek to gather input from people throughout the state. You also can email your ideas, suggestions and personal experiences to Nicole.Poore@delaware.gov.

Please join us as we work to build a better Delaware for all of its residents.

Senate Majority Leader Nicole Poore, D-New Castle, is the chairwoman of the DHSS Reorganization Committee.

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.

Facebook Comment