An income maintenance caseworker at the Scotland County Department of Social Services received recognition last month for an innovation 10 years in the making.
Teresa Vick was one of six municipal employees statewide to receive the Employee Productivity Award, presented by Local Government Federal Credit Union at the annual North Carolina Association of County Commissioners Conference. The program provided $1,000 each to county employees who have developed successful productivity improvements.
Vick, who has worked with DSS since 1992, was awarded for designing and implementing an automated adult Medicaid budget.
“It’s used by our caseworkers here,” Vick said. “It’s used to determine eligibility of clients as they come in.”
Vick’s program, which automatically determine’s clients’ eligibility for certain Medicare programs based upon caseworker-entered data, assists department employees with some 500 calculations every month.
“The program that she designed automates the calculations that caseworkers were having to do manually to determine if individuals qualify for programs within adult Medicaid,” said James McQueen, income maintenance program administrator at Scotland County DSS. “They can be pretty tedious and it can take up to about 10 minutes, whereas entering it into this automated system takes no more than two minutes.”
Vick created the program entirely of her own volition, beginning work 10 years ago by teaching herself to use Excel. Using experience gained earning a degree in accounting, Vick’s work progressed; she now updates the system periodically to keep it in line with federal and state policies.
“This was not teamwork, she created it on her own, on her own time, and the state has passed it around to the benefit of other agencies,” McQueen said. “Policy constantly changes, and the income eligibility amounts change, so she constantly updates this system.”
Although creating the program required obtaining specialized knowledge, Vick set out with the intention of simplifying work for herself and for other county employees.
“With the complexity of the budget and the amount of time that we spend on it, I wanted to make sure that there was consistency and everybody was doing it the same way,” she said.
Vick’s program is currently used by some 15 other DSS agencies in North Carolina, but it has not been officially adopted by the state.
“When our state program representative found out about this several years ago, she reviewed it to make sure that we were within the policy guidelines and then shared it with the state,” McQueen said. “Even though this is not a state-implemented system, the state has passed it around to the benefit of other agencies.”
Other agency employees statewide have directed their gratitude to Vick for lifting monotony from their jobs with her user-friendly program.
“It’s pretty simple - it just asks questions and you answer them, and then it formulates a budget. I’ve had feedback from several counties who have used it as training for their workers,” said Vick.“It’s really rewarding to know that you’ve made a difference.”