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“I Am Meridian” Recipients – 2021-22

Michelle Lisk, VP of Performance Management

Michelle Lisk consistently goes above and beyond her normal job duties.  In June, Meridian had a CCBHC attestation due for the CCBHC grant that required us to demonstrate compliance with over 100 standards. This document was due June 15th, the same time our CARF survey was planned. Michelle prepared this 28 page attestation document flawlessly. Our CCBHC Government Program Officer at SAMHSA was so impressed with this document that she just asked if we would grant permission for her to provide this nationally as an example of best practice for CCBHC attestations. Michelle also coordinated a successful CARF survey at the same time! Michelle is such an asset to Meridian and a true Rock Star!

Michelle’s work consistently exceeds expectations and has been recognized as such by DCF and SAMHSA.

Carrie Rusin, MAT Clinician

I am nominating Carrie Rusin, MAT Counselor in Chiefland OTP for the I AM MERIDIAN Award. I have had the opportunity to work as Carrie’s supervisor for the last 18 months. In that time, I have been able to see Carrie grow in her clinical skills, obtain her Masters Level Certified Addictions Professional certification and goes above and beyond to complete any team need.

Carrie has to be the picture of what a team player is. Carrie goes above and beyond for not only clients but her team mates.

Carrie assists with completing chart matrix needs, jumps in and covers groups when needed, and assists with anything asked ever.

Carrie has the BEST attitude and giving heart. She cares with her whole being, Carrie seeks assistance to help clients if she doesn’t have all of the information needed and works to ensure all clients feel welcome and included.

Carrie’s dedication to the clients, coworkers, and Meridian as a whole makes her an absolute ROCK STAR!!!!!!!!

There are so many examples that could be given regarding Carrie and her Excellence and Initiative at Meridian. Carrie shows Excellence and Initiative by working on keeping not only her chart matrix up to date, but her team mates in Lake City as well. Carrie reaches out and assists her team members with any needs for keeping files up today and even assists in getting treatment plans updated remotely with clients via telehealth in both Gainesville and Lake City. Carrie works the Saturday clinic on a PRN status to ensure that clients are able to stay successful in MAT services and Carrie takes on groups as needed to help staff and clients meet goals. Carrie is absolutely Meridian, and she is a total ROCK STAR!

Jannine Barnes, Director of Health Information Management

Jannine is a source of information for staff throughout the agency. She is always available for consultation and consistently provides expert input to both staff and departments across Meridian. If Jannine does not know the answer, she will always find out.

Jannine is also a fierce advocate for her staff. She routinely takes initiative to find ways to make their jobs more efficient and effective. No matter the situation, Jannine does her best to make sure her staff are taken care of and understand she is there to support them. Without Jannine, there is no way the HIM Department would function as expertly as it does.

Thank you Jannine for all you do!

Tovah Vargas, Family Intervention Specialist

Tovah has been with Meridian over five months in the Family Intervention Specialist position.  She has been covering multiple positions in the North since she started her position successfully and then recently has been covering all of the Family Intervention Program for Meridian since the end of August since there are no other Family Intervention Specialists for the agency at this time.  Tovah is a real go-getter and team player as she will step up to the plate and do any duty asked of her with no complaints.  She is taken on the FIS program in Alachua County including the Tri-County and opened many cases since August successfully along with her cases in the North.  Prior to this when referrals were down in the FIS program, she assisted in case management and assisted with getting clothing for some of the Assisted Living Facility clients. 

Excellence: Tovah has been a successful Family Intervention Specialist.  Her current service volume is at 120% and her concurrency is at 0.1%.  Her plan compliance is at 100%.

Initiative: Tovah always takes initiative daily and does not want to sit idle.  She assisted with case management when referrals were down briefly in the FIS program and saw case management clients and advocated for clothing for the clients in the Assisted Living Facilities.  Tovah is covering FIS clients in multiple counties in the North and is helping out also in Alachua County and the Tri-county as well as they have no FIS worker there at this time.  She is the only FIS worker right now at Meridian and is doing an excellent job keeping things afloat.  Tovah has opened several cases in Alachua County and the Tri-county area in addition to the North since the North started covering that area as well and is keeping DCF and PSF pleased with our services in the interim. Tovah communicates with the providers regularly to keep a good working relationship, which is important.  She is a very hard worker who is devoted to her clients and ensures they are linked to the services they need. 

Shelley Stroud, CSU-Unit Counselor

Shelley is a team player and works hard throughout the CSU. She works 7 days per week as we have been short a unit counselor in Lake City. In addition, she has picked up shifts in Screening to assist where we are also short staffed. Shelley is a self-starter and takes the initiative to get the job done.

Elizabeth (Beth) Lestyk, Care Coordinator

When Beth started, we did not have any care coordinators. She learned how to complete CM assessments and service plans so that care coordination could still be provided. She has learned resources to provide clients, which is above and beyond as she just moved here from Tennessee and does not know the area. She advocates for her clients and other team members. She goes above and beyond to ask questions, communicate with staff, and communicate with other team members. She has volunteered to take on additional tasks and helps other clinicians when they are struggling with grasping a concept.

Natasha Davies, Emergency Screener

Natasha is always early, takes initiative, collaborates well with clients and coworkers. She goes above and beyond to make sure the screening process is efficient and comfortable for the clients by working smart and delivering kindness.

On several occasions Natasha has come to work early to screen clients not only in GNV but LC(remotely) as well. Without Natasha those clients would have had prolonged wait times. During these occasions her quality of work has remained at a high standard.

She is an emergency screener in GNV CSU. Natasha embodies the type of professionalism that I hope other employees’ model: She works very hard, is appropriately empathic with her patients, and knowledgeable. She does her job very well, not only for what she does, but what she does not do. She does not push back when there is extra work to be done. She does not complain when there are 1000 patients to be screened. She does not argue when given constructive criticism, but rather uses it to improve her own skills-set. She does not over-step her boundaries, knows when to reach out for help and consultation, and is always professional and courteous. She has on numerous occasions enthusiastically helped her colleagues in LC when they were overwhelmed with patients. I have seen her go above and beyond to assist the Screening Coordinators and peers. And all the while, she is pleasant! Quite a rare combination nowadays. For all of the above and many other things that I may have overlooked, Natasha deserves to be nominated as a Rock Star!

Sammi Schiappucci, QI Analyst

Sammi is an invaluable member of the QI team. Sammi has worked hard to foster a collaborative approach to our quality improvement and risk management activities, fiercely advocating for our clients while ensuring program needs are addressed, and always displaying an unyielding adherence to the high moral and ethical standards to which Meridian is dedicated.

During a recent period when the QI Department had an extended staffing vacancy, there were many administrative functions attached to regulatory compliance that could not be deferred until the position was filled. In addition to an already heavy workload, Sammi took the initiative to take on several of these administrative responsibilities and assisted in coordinating and training other staff members to assist on some of these processes. Without Sammi’s willingness to step in, QI would not have been able to maintain the high level of compliance we have been able to with her assistance. So, to Sammi I say, thank you! Your support is invaluable, and my appreciation for your efforts could never be fully expressed. Thank you!


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