President’s Update for April 16, 2011

In this edition...

In this edition … Tribal Assembly update: We presented on Saturday, April 16, to the 76th annual Tribal Assembly of the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska (CCTHITA). Our presentation included: the leading health indicators affecting our people and region; an annual report and successes in 2010; an update on previous resolutions sent to SEARHC; and a request for resolutions and letters of support from CCTHITA on and increasing the Indian Health Service operations and contract support costs budgets. We also requested support for Hoonah Health Center matching funds. We had approximately 12 questions from the Tribal Assembly including: suicide prevention efforts; treatment of oxycontin (oxycodone) addictions; pain medication management; implementation of electronic health records; cancer support groups; patient advocate follow up; travel, appointments, and housing at ANMC; Tribal employment rights; fibromyalgia; adverse childhood experiences; and payment for services in Juneau when it is less costly than travel to Sitka or Anchorage. Back to top Gail Tharpe-Lucero joins training center staff: Physician assistant Gail Tharpe-Lucero is leaving the Front Street Clinic this month to move to Sitka to take an instructor position at the SEARHC Community Health Aide Training Center (CHATC) starting on May 2. Gail has been the main midlevel provider at Front Street Clinic since 2006, where she worked with Juneau’s homeless population. The move to Sitka completes a cycle for her, since she started with SEARHC as a Community Health Aide/Practitioner in Angoon, then went on to earn her physician assistant certification before returning to Angoon to practice. Now she will be teaching CHA/Ps from all over the state. While we will miss Gail at the Front Street Clinic, her talents will be an excellent addition to our CHATC. Back to top SEARHC Behavioral Health attends domestic violence/sexual assault training: SEARHC Behavioral Health staff attended a domestic violence and sexual assault training conference on April 7-8 in Anchorage. The conference was hosted by the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, Division of Behavioral Health, in partnership with the Governor’s Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Initiative. The two-day conference featured keynote speakers Dr. Vincent Felitti, a principal investigator of the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACE Study,, and Nancy Ver Steegh, an educator, advocate and writer on family law, domestic violence law and police, and alternative dispute resolution. In addition, there were a number of workshops featuring Alaskans and Alaska programs working to reduce and prevent domestic violence and sexual assault. Back to top SEARHC gets honor at diabetes conference: SEARHC was honored for its poster presentation during the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Diabetes Translation Conference April 11-14 in Minneapolis. Martha Pearson represented SEARHC at the conference and gave the poster presentation about the WISEFAMILIES Through Traditional Knowledge program. Of the entries in the “innovative program track,” the SEARHC presentation ranked third out of about 25 presentations. The display featured photo collages from traditional foods program coordinator Tammi Meissner in Wrangell, a stand-up display from Michael Jenkins in Corporate Communications, and Martha’s slides. Congratulations to our team working on health promotion while encouraging traditional and customary activities. Back to top Fairbanks clinic drops Medicare: Last week, there was a news story about the Fairbanks Urgent Care Center no longer accepting Medicare payments. The clinic manager said the administrative difficulties were not worth it. Clinics dropping coverage of Medicare patients has become a major problem throughout the state, and it has made it difficult for many Alaska seniors to find a provider who will see them. At SEARHC, we welcome patients who are on Medicare. We encourage our senior patients to register for Medicare, and our SEARHC Alternate Health Resources staff can help them process the paperwork. To learn more about Medicare registration, call (907) 966-8307 or (907) 966-8814 in Sitka or call toll-free 1-888-966-8307 elsewhere in Alaska. Back to top A myth and fact about tribal health care: The following myth and fact about the tribal health system originally appeared in the April-June 2011 issue of the Mukluk Telegraph, the newsletter for the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium. We will be running a different myth and fact about tribal health care for the next few weeks. More details about myths and facts about tribal health care can be found in the book, “Do Alaska Native People Get Free Health Care? (and other frequently asked questions about Alaska Native issues and cultures),” which is available through the University of Alaska Press,
MYTH: Alaska Native and American Indian people receive free health care. FACT: The U.S. government promised basic health services to Alaska Native and American Indian people in exchange for valuable land and resources.
Back to top Just a Reminder … Radiation worries from the Japanese nuclear plant: Many Alaskans are worried about radiation from the damaged nuclear plant in Japan reaching Alaska and impacting our health and food supplies. SEARHC and Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium staff is in contact with state and federal health officials, and we are monitoring the situation closely. There are five radiation monitors in Alaska, including one in Juneau, and so far there have been only trace amounts of radiation from the plant to reach the state, not enough to cause any health problems. At this time there is no need for people to take potassium iodide pills, which can cause severe side effects if used improperly. For more information about the nuclear plant and radiation reaching Alaska, ANTHC created a website with updates, The State of Alaska also has a website, Back to top 24/7 on-call travel coordinators available: Are you a SEARHC patient who needs after-hours help while traveling for a medical appointment? SEARHC now has a 24/7 on-call travel number. A staff person is on call to help you when your flight has been diverted due to weather or you need late-night help with housing. For assistance, call 1-800-916-8566 (toll-free in Alaska) or 1-907-966-8345 in Sitka and follow the prompts for assistance. To help us better help you, please call as soon as you can get to a phone after you know your flight has been changed. Back to top SEARHC hosts 24/7 crisis help line, toll-free at 1-877-294-0074: A personal or family crisis doesn’t always happen during clinic hours, so the SEARHC Behavioral Health Division has contracted with a crisis call center to provide help for Southeast Alaska residents when they need it most. The SEARHC Help Line is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and it will be staffed with a team of master’s-degree-level mental health therapists who will listen and provide effective, compassionate care. This line provides confidential telephone counseling for people during a time of mental health crisis, and it is not just an answering service. The counselors will assess the situation and provide appropriate intervention using protocols developed with SEARHC Behavioral Health. Follow-up calls from SEARHC Behavioral Health or our partner agencies will be made the next business day. For more information, contact SEARHC Behavioral Health Prevention Program Director Wilbur Brown at 966-8753. Back to top Regards, Roald