Always There: Jana’s Memories
In Ohio, County Boards of DD were officially established in 1967. 2017 marks a huge milestone, as we’re celebrating 50 years in existence! For the past few months, we’ve enjoyed going through photos and hearing memories from the past 50 years. Now, we want to share these memories with you!
Today, it’s Jana McVetta’s turn! Read her answers to learn more about her 21 years with us. (There’s a great story at the end!)
What is your role at ACBDD?
I’ve worked as a Service Coordinator, Service & Support Associate, and Medicaid Services Specialist. I’m currently the Director of Quality and Support Services.
Why did you get into the field of developmental disabilities?
It’s kind of a family thing…I wanted to move back home, and my brother worked here in a different department. As it turns out, all three of my siblings and I would eventually work in the DD field. My brother has since went on to teach regular education, but he has a foster child with a disability – so is still very connected.
What has been the most significant change – regarding developmental disabilities – during your career?
Wow, tough one. Probably Medicaid waivers and what that has led to – all of the choices that individuals have with service options and providers. It used to just be us (the county board) and a few residential providers.
Have opportunities for individuals with disabilities improved in that time?
For the most part, yes. Years ago, it seems like we said, “Here is what we can offer.” and “Which of these boxes do you fit best into?” Today, with person centered planning, we start with a blank slate and the individual kind of “draws up” their wants and needs. Limits still exist, of course, but there seems to be more room for creativity with services and achieving outcomes. The work isn’t done, however, and we need to continue looking for ways to expand opportunities. Staffing shortages are slowing this down, unfortunately.
How has care and treatment of individuals evolved?
I think the change in mindset that individuals shouldn’t just be in the community, but actually be part of their community. Finding ways to build those community connections that become natural and long-lasting for folks…that’s the key. The shift in service planning, behavior support, positive culture initiatives like Good Life, etc. have definitely led to a new approach to providing services.
What’s one of your best memories?
Oh, there have been so many. Really what sticks out most is all of the wonderful relationships I have built with people over the years, with individuals served and coworkers. I wouldn’t change it for anything.
Any cool stories you’re willing to share?
It truly is like a family. The relationships here are real and meaningful. In my early years, I worked with a young man who I will never forget. He had some serious medical issues, yet he was very positive and active, and he really wanted to be as independent as possible. He had dialysis several times per week, and I would make sure he got there. Sometimes the hospital would call and say Nate didn’t show up. I would get in the car and drive around Lima looking for him, knowing there was a good chance he was selling Beanie Babies on the street corner somewhere. Most times I found him, and most times I would convince him to go to his treatment.
I also remember going to bat for him when a car dealer sold him a “lemon” and when he faced eviction. Looking back, we really went through alot together. Our relationship would be short-lived, as Nate passed away in 2000. I still have a letter from his brother and sister-in-law that I received after the funeral. They expressed their gratitude to me and our agency for helping Nate have a better life while he was on this earth. In the end, that’s really what our work is all about, helping people have a good life!