President’s Update for Aug. 31, 2012

In this edition...

In this edition …

SEARHC welcomes Kevin Settles to Behavioral Health staff: Kevin Settles, Psy.D, has joined the SEARHC Behavioral Health Division staff as a psychologist. He will be based in Sitka where he will oversee telebehavioral health services provided by the Community Family Services program, which uses videoconferencing technology to provide higher-level clinical visits for patients living in our more remote communities. Dr. Settles holds a Doctorate of Clinical Psychology degree from the California School of Professional Psychology in Los Angeles; a Master’s degree in Investigative Psychology from the University of Liverpool, England; and a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from Morehouse College in Atlanta. While at Morehouse, Dr. Settles won the Robert E. McNair Leadership Award. Dr. Settles previously spent two years working with the Maniilaq Association in Kotzebue, plus he spent two years with NASA completing a post-doctoral fellowship and he spent 9-plus years in the U.S. Army, including a combat tour in Desert Storm with the 101st Airborne Division.

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FASD Evaluation Team visits Juneau and FASD Awareness Day events: The SEARHC Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) Evaluation Team visited Juneau this week, where it did four evaluations. The team is comprised of Dr. Carmen Sugai, Dr. RD Boardman, Steve Guevara, Gayle Young, Matthew Sena and Moira McBride. FASD is the umbrella name used for more than 100 types of disorders that happen to a child when a pregnant woman drinks. These disorders can result in permanent birth defects and/or physical, mental, behavioral and/or learning disabilities with possible lifelong implications. It’s easier to help a child who has one or more of the disorders associated with FASD develop when you can diagnoses the disorders early. FASD Awareness Day is on Sept. 9 each year, and several restaurants around the state will have informational table tents and provide free non-alcoholic beverages to pregnant women on this date. There also will be bulletin inserts available for church programs. SEARHC also will be bringing FASD expert John Hays to Sitka, Hoonah and Juneau the week of Sept. 22-26 for a series of presentations at times and locations TBA. For more information, contact Gayle Young at 966-8815.

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The Joint Commission visits Sitka for periodic performance review: A reviewer from The Joint Commission — the accreditation agency for S’áxt’ Hít Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital and the Ethel Lund Medical Center — was in Sitka on Tuesday and Wednesday (Aug. 28-29) to perform a Periodic Performance Review (PPR) at the hospital. The review consisted of a Joint Commission clinical surveyor performing an extensive review of hospital operations, policies, and medical staff functions. At the closeout meeting held at the end of the review, the surveyor had many positive comments regarding her findings. Overall, the review was a great success, and will help the hospital prepare for its triennial survey, scheduled to occur sometime during the upcoming year.

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SEARHC hosts RPMS Electronic Health Record training: The SEARHC and Indian Health Service (IHS) electronic health record (EHR) implementation teams just concluded another full week of configuration and training (Aug. 27-31) in Sitka and by videoconferencing. By the end of the week, the team had built custom EHR data entry screens for medical and optometry visits and stepped through all the stages of a sample optometry visit — scheduling, check-in, screening, exam, electronic signature, coding, and billing. The team hopes to pilot the EHR on a very small sample of visits starting as early as next week. The teams will meet again starting Sept. 17 to continue the work done so far, and to start configuring the EHR for nutrition and physical therapy visits. SEARHC is in the process of implementing the RPMS (Resource and Patient Management System) EHR, which is in use by more than 300 federal, tribal, and community health aide clinics and hospitals around the country.

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ANTHC epidemiologists visit SEARHC to discuss programs and research: Romy Mohelsky, MPH and Jessica Craig, MPH, both epidemiologists with the Alaska Native Epidemiology Center at the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC Epi Center), visited Sitka on Wednesday, Aug. 29. Besides meeting with program managers, Romy and Jessica provided a short presentation on the Southeast Regional Health Profile, which has information gathered through the ANTHC Epi Center that indicates leading causes of death, infant mortality, and longevity. They also asked SEARHC employees what they thought were the greatest health needs and challenges in Southeast Alaska, and for what health topics they wished they had more data. For more information on the ANTHC Epi Center, please go to its website, http://www.anthctoday.org/epicenter/.

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ANMC launches Care Coordination Center to ease patient travel: In an effort to make logistics as easy and stress-free as possible for patients traveling to Anchorage for health care, the Alaska Native Medical Center is teaming up with SEARHC and the other regional health organizations to create a Care Coordination Center. The Care Coordination Center (located across from the ANMC Craft Shop) will standardize travel coordination, with agents working directly with specialty clinics and regional health providers. Agents will make lodging arrangements and provide Anchorage airport and hotel transportation information. There also will be a toll-free number, 1-855-482-4382, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week for all travel-related questions. After a test run with a couple of the smaller regional health organizations and specialty clinics, the Care Coordination Center is launching statewide in September and October.

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SEARHC’s Megan Gregory presents at National Intertribal Youth Summit: On July 28–Aug. 2, SEARHC Behavioral Health/Suicide Prevention Program Community Project Coordinator Megan Gregory joined more than 200 youth and adult leaders from 53 tribal communities across the country for the 2012 National Intertribal Youth Summit at the National 4–H Youth Conference Center in Chevy Chase, Md. Megan was invited to participate on a panel titled, “Native Youth: Champions of Change.” Megan had the opportunity to talk about the Southeast Alaska Youth Ambassador Program, and her efforts to work with youth to promote leadership and suicide prevention in Alaska. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) partnered with a range of federal agencies to organize the event. On the opening night of the summit, youth gathered for an evening of round dancing, singing, and storytelling with tribal leaders. In addition, a group of respected tribal leaders shared their personal experiences and words of wisdom about how to create change in Indian country. Youth later participated in talking circles and attended seminars and lectures focused on civic engagement, conflict resolution, and federal policies affecting Indian country. They met with tribal youth from other parts of the country through sessions on leadership development and issues critical to youth — healthy relationships and lifestyles, education, suicide and substance abuse prevention, cultural preservation, and community development.

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Just a reminder …

Fall 2012 mobile mammogram van schedule continues this week in Haines: The SEARHC WISEWOMAN Women’s Health Program and Bartlett Regional Hospital have announced the Fall 2012 schedule for the mobile mammogram program. The mobile mammography van will visit Haines on Aug. 27-Sept. 10, Skagway on Sept. 11-14, Klawock on Sept. 19-28 and Oct. 3-9, Craig on Oct. 1-2, and Metlakatla on Oct. 11-19 (no weekend or holiday appointments). The van already visited Hoonah on this season’s schedule. Women are encouraged to contact their local clinics prior to the scheduled visit because they will need to receive a clinical breast exam before they can get their mammograms. The mobile mammography program is run through a partnership between Bartlett Regional Hospital and the SEARHC WISEWOMAN Women’s Health Program. It makes regular mammography screening services available to women who live in communities where they aren’t available year round. The SEARHC WISEWOMAN Women’s Health Program provides free clinical breast exams, mammograms, Pap tests and cardiovascular screenings for all women ages 40 and older who meet income and insurance guidelines. For more information, contact your local clinic, call the SEARHC WISEWOMAN Women’s Health Program in Sitka at 966-8782 (or 1-888-388-8782, toll-free in Alaska), or send e-mail to askwh@searhc.org. For more information about services available through the SEARHC WISEWOMAN Women’s Health Program, go to http://www.searhc.org/womenshealth/.

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Alaska VA Healthcare System hosts Veterans Stand Down in Juneau: SEARHC will be one of several agencies helping the Alaska VA Healthcare System host a Veterans Stand Down on Sept. 7-8 at Centennial Hall in Juneau. SEARHC will join Department of Veterans Affairs staff as they provide one-on-one assistance for veterans and their families with enrollment for health services, filing claims for compensation, and learning about benefits, pensions and burial benefits. The Veterans Stand Down takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 7, and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 8. In addition to providing benefits assistance, gear will be distributed to veterans who need it (jackets, socks, cold-weather bed rolls, sheets, towels, caps, mittens, blankets, sweats and more). In addition to the VA and SEARHC, other participating agencies include the U.S. Coast Guard, the Alaska Jobs Center, the State of Alaska, the Central Council of Tlingít and Haida Tribes of Alaska, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Southeast Native Veterans, the National Guard, tribal veteran representatives, the American Legion and the Disabled Veterans of America. To learn more about the Veterans Stand Down, contact VA Rural Health Program Coordinator Susan Yeager at 1-907-257-5460 or susan.yeager@va.gov, or contact Libby Watanabe at SEARHC at 463-6680 or libby.watanabe@searhc.org. For more info about the Alaska VA Healthcare System, call 1-888-353-7574 or go to http://www.alaska.va.gov/.

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SEARHC patient advocates serve as customer liaisons: SEARHC has three patient advocate positions in Southeast Alaska — Bryan Whitson (Sitka), Cyndi Reeves (POW), and Debra Graceland (Juneau) — who serve as customer service liaisons between patients and SEARHC, and help patients navigate their way through SEARHC’s health system. In addition, the Alaska Native Medical Center provides Anchorage-based patient advocates who serve patients from around the state receiving care at the Alaska Native Medical Center. Patients living in Sitka, Angoon, Kake, Pelican, Tenakee Springs, Yakutat, Petersburg and Wrangell should contact Bryan Whitson at 966-8860. Patients in Klawock, Craig, Hydaburg, Kasaan, Thorne Bay and other POW communities should contact Cyndi Reeves at 755-4983 (965-0040, cell). Patients in Juneau, Haines, Skagway, Klukwan and Hoonah should contact Debra Graceland (463-6656). Patients traveling to Anchorage for care should contact the ANMC patient advocates at 729-3990.

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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/Suicide Prevention Program Manager Wilbur Brown at 966-8753.

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SEARHC provides 24/7 on-call travel coordinators for patients traveling for care: SEARHC has a 24/7 on-call travel coordinator to assist patients needing after-hours help while traveling for a medical appointment. The on-call staff person helps patients find new connections when a plane is diverted by weather, or assists with late-night housing. For assistance, call 1-800-916-8566 (toll-free in Alaska) or 1-907-966-8345 in Sitka, and then follow the prompts. To help us better help you, please call as soon as you know your travel schedule has been changed. For patients needing assistance from the Community Resources Program (contract health), such as emergency health care while traveling, call 1-866-966-8316 (toll-free).

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Charles Clement SEARHC President/CEO