Team Recognition Awards Honor Employees That Demonstrate DHHS Values

Members of the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Team

Members of the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Team pose with DHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen after receiving a Team Recognition Award in the People-Focused category for their work. 

Jan. 4, 2019 – Teams that sprang into action during and after Hurricane Florence, groups working on the transition to Medicaid Managed Care and those that work hard to increase joy in the workplace were among the 16 teams from throughout DHHS honored in mid-December with the first-ever Team Recognition Awards. 

DHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen and Department leadership handed out the awards to representatives from the winning teams. Each of the teams furthered the Department’s mission by demonstrating DHHS values as they carried out their jobs or took on extra assignments.  

“So many teams across the Department work incredibly hard serving the people of North Carolina, and I wanted to recognize those who have gone above and beyond the call of duty,” Cohen said.

Awards were given in each of the Department’s six values: focusing on the people DHHS serves, teamwork, proactive communication, transparency, stewardship and joy at work. (Watch a video of the ceremony or check out pictures from the event.)

The teams honored in each category were: 


  • North Carolina Assistance Technology Program Team – NCATP provides assistive technology services statewide, helping people with disabilities gain independence through access to technology. During Hurricane Florence, this team worked around the clock to provide regular services and emergency relief.
  • Division of Aging and Adult Services – Almost half of the division actively served in shelters and at the State Emergency Operations Center during Hurricane Florence. Others stepped in to continue to provide services to older and vulnerable adults in the state.
  • Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Team – In the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, a program providing emergency food assistance to families affected by the storm was put into place. A team from Economic and Family Services, Performance Management and Child Support pulled together, and over 304,000 households in 34 counties were able to receive assistance.


  • Cherry Hospital Housekeeping Team – When the hospital was designated a medical shelter during Hurricane Florence, the Housekeeping Team sprang into action, preparing 150 extra beds, doing laundry for all staff and patients, battling flood water and continuing to clean patient units to the usual standards. The team demonstrated how to pull together during an emergency.
  • J. Iverson Riddle Physical Therapy Department – This team collaboratively works with others at the facility to better meet the needs of the residents at Riddle. This spirit was on display when the team developed and adapted a triathlon, consisting of swimming, biking and running/walking events, for 80 residents. 

Proactive Communication

  • Advanced Medical Home Implementation and Provider Training Team – This team is a large, cross-functional team within NC Medicaid. As DHHS has begun its transition to Medicaid managed care, this team has undertaken critical behind-the-scenes work on some of the care management changes that will take place, including proactively communicating with providers.
  • Prepaid Health Plan Contract RFP Team – Over the past two years, this team has worked to develop and proactively communicate the objectives and goals of the future Medicaid managed care program. Collaborating on this enormous task was a Department-wide team that put together the largest procurement in state history. Throughout the process, they proactively communicated within DHHS and with the public.
  • Medicaid Employee Committee – MEC works to ensure the best possible workplace experience within NC Medicaid by focusing on employee engagement, work culture and employee-focused activities. This team is responsive to suggestions for workplace improvement, and building team spirit and morale. Through the team’s efforts, Medicaid employees feel more empowered and experience joy at work.
  • Early Childhood Action Plan Internal Planning Team - In just a few short months, this team has released a full draft of a comprehensive early childhood plan for children from birth through age 8. The draft includes clear goals, detailed metrics for success, and an aspirational vision for keeping North Carolina’s children healthy, safe and learning. Their success is due in part to extensive communication with internal and external stakeholders throughout the drafting process, providing a model for productive and effective communication.


  • Employee Engagement Project Team – When the all-DHHS Employee Engagement Survey was put together to assess employee morale, the key to its success was how the Department would use the results to improve DHHS as a workplace. This team ensured Division-specific plans were developed, creating tools and guides to help Divisions and Facilities develop action plans based on the survey results. This helped to demonstrate the Department’s commitment to a transparent workplace culture.
  • North Carolina Controlled Substance Reporting System Team – The NC Controlled Substance Reporting System is a critical tool in combating the opioid epidemic, collecting information on opioid prescriptions and reporting it to prescribers and dispensers. By successfully improving the transparency of opioid-prescribing doctors and pharmacists, the CSRS team has provided a model for the Department and helps doctors identify patients at risk for opioid misuse. This potentially saves lives and helps to continue to stem the tide of the opioid crisis.


  • Back@Home Team – After Hurricane Florence, many families did not qualify for FEMA assistance, but had no path out of emergency shelters. The Back@Home team pulled together resources to get these families housed. In partnership with state, local and nonprofit agencies, this team secured $12 million to provide families with housing location assistance, rent and utility assistance, moving supplies, job training and childcare. Within a few months, this team has housed more than 100 families that otherwise would not have stable housing. 
  • NC Pharmacy Program Team – This team works collaboratively and proactively with clinical advisory groups and providers to balance the health of beneficiaries and the cost of care. Drugs on the NC Medicaid Preferred Drug List are carefully selected and drug rebates are maximized to ensure beneficiaries have access to the right drugs at the most advantageous cost. The result is a pharmacy program that provides the best overall value to beneficiaries, providers and the state. From SFY 2011 through SFY 2016, more than $775 million has been saved with no significant differences in the use of medical services.


  • O’Berry Neuro-Medical Treatment Center Cluster 2 Team – O’Berry’s Cluster 2 is composed of four group homes. The list of activities organized by this team for the Cluster 2 residents is long and varied, from karaoke to arts and crafts projects to nail spa days. They spend money out of their own pockets to buy residents Halloween costumes, birthday gifts and holiday decorations, and they have pulled together and supported others in the aftermath of hurricanes, house fires, illnesses and deaths. 
  • Whitaker Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facility Team –This is a team of two, yet they manage to bring a lot of joy to everyone with whom they work, by organizing lunches, recognizing birthdays and providing small tokens of appreciation at just the right time. Over the past 20 years, team members Stephanie Clayton and Michelle McRae-Lillie have made a difference in the lives of others every day, and never expecting anything in return.
  • Caswell Booster Club Team – The Caswell Booster Club is a voluntary, employee-sponsored program recognizing Caswell employees who work every day to serve individuals with developmentally disabilities. Over the past five years, the Club has raised more than $15,000 annually to organize fun events and fellowship to thank the Caswell team for their work, providing an incredible degree of joy and support.