From the Chair, Tommy Griffin…
Hello friends: another month has gone by. I want to talk to you this month about positive thinking and how important it is for all of us to support each other during these trying times of budget cuts and personnel being laid off. It’s very hard to think positively when the news we hear out of Raleigh is that there are not enough funds coming into the state coffers to meet the needs of the state. But we all must have hope and know that there are better times ahead of us and a bright future. The economy is slowly starting to turn around and we just have to hang on until we are back on the road to success and prosperity. So we must think positively at this time and look to the future.
This Great University has successfully survived through wars and the Great Depression of the nineteen hundreds. We survived because of the dedicated, caring, loving and hard working employees of this great state. We all must work together and help out wherever we can. There is more work than we have people to do it. Take the time to help each other and support each other whenever you can share your positive attitudes with each other every day. We will survive this recession because state employees know what it is to make sacrifices. We all do it every day by working for less pay and watching our benefits slowly shrinking away. But we all must have the hope that some day soon our leaders in Raleigh will recognize how valuable we all are and begin to treat us with dignity and respect and by paying us fairly and equably and by providing us with a fair benefit package and working conditions.
Dr. William Friday said that over one million North Carolina citizens go to work every day at or below poverty level in order to support the needs of the UNC University System. They do this because they love our state and they want our children to have a better future. So let all of us honor each other by working together and thinking positively so that we can keep this a Great University. We must stand united together at all times and let our voices be heard throughout the entire state.
I am writing in response to concerns expressed about coverage under the State Health Plan for medical services provided outside of North Carolina. The State Health Plan does cover medical services provided outside of North Carolina, but there are limitations that may be of concern:
The State Health Plan reimburses at the “Usual, Customary, and Reasonable” (UCR) rates as determined by the Claims Processing Contractor. Members of the State Health Plan who seek services inside the State of North Carolina can elect to use “Costwise” physicians. “Costwise” physicians agree to limit their charges to the Plan to the UCR rates so the employee does not have to bear any excess charges.
For members seeking services out-of-state, there is no “Costwise” option, so members are responsible for the difference between the UCR rate and the actual physician charges.
Coverage out-of-state is identical to coverage within state by a non-Costwise provider except that Blue Cross Blue Shield may reimburse based on the UCR in the appropriate state.
The State Health Plan makes hospital payments based on “diagnosis related groups” (DRGs). All North Carolina hospitals contract with the Plan and agree to accept the DRG payment. The Plan contracts with some hospitals near the North Carolina border; however, non-contracting hospitals may hold the member responsible for the difference in cost if the hospital charge is higher than the DRG allowance.
You may also be responsible for an additional 20% co-insurance (based on the lesser of the hospital charge or DRG allowance) up to a maximum of $5,000 for an individual or $15,000 for employee/child(ren) and employee/family if a participating provider was reasonably available. In other words, if you left North Carolina specifically to receive treatment at another hospital, you would be assessed an additional 20% co-insurance charge. This charge should not apply if you are traveling or residing in another state and become ill.
If an employee experiences large medical expenses while traveling out-of-state, the employee should contact the Appeals Coordinator at the State Health Plan to file an appeal of the charges. The Appeals Coordinator will attempt to negotiate the charges with the out-of-state provider who may reduce the charges. Appeals must be filed by individuals within 60 days of receiving a denial or a benefits decision; however, the University Benefits Office can provide information about this process.
Appeals should be sent to the following address:
Claims Processing Contractor
PO Box 30111
Durham, NC 27702-3111
Some Employees have purchased family health insurance coverage from Blue Cross/Blue Shield Advantage plan for as little as $293 a month (for a 35 year old man with a 30 year old wife and one child, with a $2500 deductible), a substantial savings from the State plan. Interested Employees can go to http://www.bcbs.com/ for an automated quote and more details that might help you save money. Please note that the Forum does not endorse this plan.
Opportunities for Training
Did you know that when employees are asked about job satisfaction, they often name training opportunities as one of the most important issues? As a member of the Carolina staff, you have a number of options to learn new skills, increase your chances for career advancement and improve your effectiveness in the workplace. You can also learn about HR policies that affect you and even pick up ideas for personal wellness.
The Office of Human Resources, through their Training and Development Department, offers many different sessions that are open to EPA and SPA permanent University employees. Most are free of charge. You can learn about areas like records management or improve your office skills. There is an entire program for managers called the University Management Development Program. On a more personal note, you can learn about smart financial planning and making good retirement decisions. You might also want to take a class on self-defense skills or CPR. Maybe you’d be interested in some tips for avoiding job burnout. And there are lots of other choices!
Interested? Where can you find out more? A calendar and descriptions of the classes are online at http://www.ais.unc.edu/hr/tdev/programs.htm The registration form is linked to that page. For those without good computer access, you can call 962-2550 to request paper copies of both the class lists and the form to register.
Tuition Waiver Program
Have you ever thought about taking a course here at Carolina? Are you interested in getting a degree or starting down a new career path? Then the Tuition Waiver Program might be just what you need!
What is it?
This program allows eligible staff (permanent employees who work at least 30 hours per week) to take one course per semester without paying tuition. Up to two courses per year may be taken with this benefit.
Do they have to be UNC Chapel Hill courses?
No, the classes can be at any of the 16 campuses in the University of North Carolina system.
Do the courses have to be related to my present work?
No, they can be for personal interest or to help you train for a new job or career.
What level of courses are we talking about?
Both undergraduate and graduate courses are covered, as well as online and independent study courses.
Is class time counted as work time?
No, this program is entirely voluntary and class attendance is outside of the employee’s regular working schedule. However, departments are encouraged to accommodate employee participation with flexible scheduling options.
Where can I find out more?
Go online to http://www.ais.unc.edu/hr/spaman/section12/sec12-tuition.htm or call 962-2550.
UNC Staff do not work in a vacuum. Tasks performed on a daily basis are usually done to assist in the success of your office or department and affect others in some way. To help your department (or team) operate as a more cohesive unit, UNC offers a team building class through the HR Training and Development Department.
This class, titled “Developing High Performance Teams,” is an introduction to the practices of team leaders and team members that create and sustain an optimum team environment. The classroom environment becomes a “mini-lab” team experiment. Team concepts, principles and behaviors can be experienced and assessed by participants before considering their use in job environment applications. Topics the class covers include:
— Defining team terms
— Stages of team development
— Managing team meetings
— Giving and receiving feedback
This day long course gives a good basis for developing team building skills. The techniques learned can go a long way into turning your department into a well oiled machine. Be on the lookout for this course when you scan the HR training announcements.
Editor’s note: the Communications Committee hopes to use In Touch to help staff at Carolina learn about the many opportunities we all have for career development and improving job skills. We are working with the Forum’s Career Development Committee to highlight important options for staff in this area. Next month we’ll take a look at computer training classes.
Fun Ways to Say Thank You
The Employee Forum’s Recognition and Awards Committee (RAC) has a truly exciting job – thinking up ways to show UNC employees how valued and appreciated they are! This is a special year for the Forum, as it celebrates its tenth anniversary. In honor of the anniversary, the RAC is busy redesigning the certificate of appreciation for staff who are recognized through the Peer Recognition Program. Honorees selected by their peers will receive a handsome certificate featuring both the University seal and the Employee Forum seal.
To honor staff who are working through the Forum to voice the issues, interests, and ideas of their fellow employees to the University’s Administration, the RAC is planning an Employee Forum Delegate/Alternate Appreciation Luncheon. Current Forum Delegates and alternates are invited to come to Toy Lounge on Thursday, May 9, 11:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. for a delicious lunch. This will be a wonderful time to meet and network with other members of the Employee Forum. (RSVP by April 30.) Later this year, the RAC and the Orientation Committee will host a 10-Year Anniversary Celebration for all current and past Delegates and alternates.
Tips and Resources for Personal Safety on Campus
Recent criminal activities around campus and talk of a night parking program have UNC employees discussing their concerns about personal safety. Following are some pointers about what you can do to protect yourself, as well as what the University is doing to educate faculty, staff, and students about crime prevention and available support services.
When walking on campus at night, look for the brighter lighting corridors that now exist from East Franklin Street at the north end of campus to Craige and Hinton James residence halls on south campus. These corridors feature higher-intensity, improved-color lights that double the amount of illumination.
Stay alert, and never walk alone. If you are walking and suddenly fear for your safety or see something suspicious, look for one of fifty-nine strategically placed, black call boxes that are directly connected to the Department of Public Safety. Push the button and campus police officers will respond immediately, whether you speak or not. A blue strobe light pinpoints your location visually and an indicator locates you electronically, giving you the freedom to seek shelter without having to stay in a dangerous place. For a map of where these boxes are located, as well as the lighting corridors mentioned above, visit http://www.dps.unc.edu/securityreport/Docs/call_box_map.htm on the web.
If you’re not near a call box, find a phone and dial 911. Even if you hang up without saying anything, police will respond. Routine calls are handled at 962-8100.
Consider not walking at night, or making your walk shorter. The University makes this possible for you by providing Point-to-Point (P2P), P2P Express, and the fare-free U-bus. P2P transports faculty, staff, and students to their cars in campus parking lots between dusk and dawn, seven days a week. Call 962-7867 to arrange a ride. You can call P2P from your car by using the blue and red P2P communication boxes in the Bell Tower lot (BG), Bowles (S-11), Manning (F), P lot, PR lot, Craige Deck, and Health Affairs Deck. P2P Express runs from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. seven days a week during academic semesters. Riders must show a UNC OneCard or a University ID. To shorten your walk, hop on the U-bus. It circles campus in between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. A schedule and map are available at http://www.ci.chapel-hill.nc.us/transit/routes/u_weekday.html
How can you defend yourself in a dangerous situation? You don’t necessarily have to know how to throw your attacker to the ground. You can learn the dynamics of assaults, simple physical self-defense, and verbal self-defense through the University’s 4-hour SafeSkills-oriented workshops. These classes, offered by the Training and Development Office for female faculty, staff, and student employees, are being offered on July 9 and October 10. Visit http://www.ais.unc.edu/hr/tdev/programs.htm to sign up.
The Department of Public Safety also offers Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) training for female faculty, staff, and students. During the 12-hour program, participants learn awareness, prevention, risk-reduction, and avoidance techniques. Afternoon, evening, and weekend classes are offered. For a class schedule, call Lt. Angela Carmon at 966-3230.
Crimes do not always happen outside, or in the dark. Workplace violence and sexual harassment are very real concerns as well. The Sexual Harassment Office offers programs on sexual exploitation, intimidation, harassment, and assault. Call 962-3026 or visit http://www.ais.unc.edu/hr/ for more information.
Look in the University Gazette for Training and Development Office workshops on conflict management, or call 962-2550.
Human Resources’ Counseling Services workshop on violence in the workplace teaches participants how to recognize telltale warning signs. This program is tailored to departments and can be presented during departmental meetings. Call 962-2656 to inquire.
The campus security report, posted in the fall of each year, contains a wealth of information about all aspects of personal safety. Find it online at http://www.dps.unc.edu/securityreport/
Be alert! Don’t go alone! Avoid dark places! Don’t walk when you can ride!