GALLIPOLIS — The Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities recently announced it created and filled nine full-time positions and headquartered them in the Gallipolis Developmental Center after finding success with an information technology pilot program.
“One of the nice things with technology, the way that it is, is that you don’t need all of your staff in a central location to do things like managing a call center,” said Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities Director John Martin. “We have an ITS call center that supports folks who use our IT systems. In addition, we do a fair amount of our own programming…particularly for entry level positions in the Columbus market, we have a lot of turnover. There is a lot of competition up here for those jobs. We started slow to see could we attract folks who could do the work for us down in Gallipolis and get a nice stable workforce that would be an enhancement for what we have.”
”We started with a pilot for our ITS call center,” said Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities Chief Information Officer Michelle Burk. “ We have four entry level staff there located at the Gallipolis center and the technology of course allows them to be the first responders to ITS questions or issues coming in from county boards, individuals, families, providers and other state staff. This just worked out very well for us.”
The program also piloted entry level developers who code for the department.
“We’re on a CRM dynamics platform,” said Burk. “We decided to pilot bringing on developers in (Gallia) and through the testing process, we’ve gotten talented staff and are excited to bring them on, improve and train with us.”
The pilot program with ITS call center staff started a few years ago and being successful, according to the department officials, the program brought on its last developer roughly two months ago.
“Right now our goal is to really train these staff and take advantage of their skill sets,” said Burk. “We haven’t talked about growing this in any other areas at this point. That would depend on our budget and process going forward into the next fiscal year but I think we’re really going to focus on refining how we’re managing the group and taking advantage of the technology here that we are.”
Members of the Gallipolis program interface with Columbus staff daily through video chat. Gallipolis staff handle calls and programming for services across the state.
Employees earn state benefits and between $41,000 and $71,000 through the program.
“One of the things we struggle with in Columbus is that we will hire entry-level people, work hard to train them, up their skill level and then they get another job somewhere else,” said Martin. “Our hope and what we’ve seen in Gallipolis are people picking up the training and staying. That’s valuable to us.”
Burk said Gallipolis had been a source of untapped resources that enabled the department to move employees into the “developer space.”
Information technology staff work for the department and not necessarily the Gallipolis Developmental Center. Staff do work out of the facility.
In August 2016, the announcement of 32 full-time staff being cut from GDC was announced by the department in a streamlining effort to match with a decline in clients served. GDC cutbacks have been the source of contentious battles between local residents and the state in the past.
Martin said, with “the current administration,” the department has no plans to close GDC and that recent client populations had recently remained relatively stable and that the center continues to meet a need for the region.
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.