President’s Update for Dec. 3, 2011

In this edition...

In this edition …

ANTHC annual meeting: The Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC) held its annual meeting on Monday, Nov 28, at the Dena’ina Center in Anchorage. There was a strong turnout of tribes, tribal health organizations and patients present at the meeting. ANTHC released its 2011 annual report during its meeting. The annual report is available at http://www.anthctoday.org/annualreport/2011_ANTHC_Annual_Report.pdf. Representatives of ANTHC provided reports about the Alaska Native Medical Center, the Division of Environmental Health and Engineering, Community Health Service, and the FY2011 financial status. During the week, the ANTHC Board held its annual elections. The results are:

  • Mr. Andy Teuber, Kodiak Area Native Association, Board Chair.
  • Ms. H. Sally Smith, Bristol Bay Area Health Corporation, Vice Chair.
  • Ms. Charlene Nollner, Copper River Native Association, Secretary.
  • Mr. Chuck Clement, Southcentral Foundation, Treasurer.

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State reports new PSP case in Metlakatla that prompts health warning: A Metlakatla woman was hospitalized in Ketchikan in late November with a suspected case of paralytic shellfish poisoning, state health officials said. The woman’s family had harvested cockles and butter clams, which were eaten during a meal on Nov. 29. The woman was hospitalized after feeling tingling in her hands and feet, while two other family members also had symptoms, tingling in the mouth, that went away. The state has tested cockles and butter/steamer clams left over from the meal, and the clams tested positive for the PSP toxin (these sampled cockles had below the threshold of PSP toxin, but other cockles gathered from the area tested positive). This is the first time state officials can remember a case of PSP occurring in November. Many people believe that eating certain types of shellfish in months that end in “R” is safe, but this is a myth. Several types of bivalves can hold the PSP toxin for many months, and some butter clams have carried the toxin for as long as two years. To learn more about PSP and PSP outbreaks earlier this year in Southeast Alaska, go to http://searhc.org/publications/featured_stories/2011_06_psp.php or see the State of Alaska website for official statements.

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Rasmuson Foundation awards $350,000 for Hoonah clinic: On Wednesday, Nov. 30, the Rasmuson Foundation announced $8.4 million in grants to programs around the state, including $350,000 to SEARHC to help with construction costs at the Hoonah Health Center. This funding will be added to the $4.15 million we received from the Denali Commission in July. SEARHC is working with other funders to get the remainder of the funds to build this much-needed new clinic. The City of Hoonah transferred 3.96 acres of land to SEARHC for the construction of the clinic in June. We are pleased to see this project continue to gain momentum.

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Klukwan Health Center to expand level of service: The SEARHC Klukwan Health Center is hiring a midlevel practitioner (physician assistant or nurse practitioner), which will expand the clinic’s level of service to Klukwan and the upper Chilkat Valley. In addition to the midlevel practitioner, a clinical assistant and receptionist also are being recruited. Previously, a full-time community health practitioner staffed the clinic. When the position became vacant, SEARHC decided to raise the clinic’s service level. We are hoping to have the midlevel provider hired by December and that person will be ready to start in early January. We will continue to have a physician from the Haines Health Center spend two half-days a week (Tuesday mornings and Thursday afternoons) providing services at the Klukwan Health Center, even after the midlevel practitioner starts.

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Kake hosts winter Hudson Bay tea gathering party: SEARHC Health Promotion hosted a winter gathering of Hudson Bay tea in Kake. The tea was generously provided to the Kake Senior Center for its use. There were four pickers who harvested three one-quart bags of this delicious medicinal tea, which will benefit up to 100 people at the center. The tea will be made available during the lunch program, and The Peace of Kake Friday Café (lunch program) received one quart for its use. Hudson Bay tea, also known as Labrador tea, is a delicious brewed tea and has healing and soothing properties. Be careful about making it too strong, since some Aunties say it also has laxative properties.

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Hospital nursing staff to host skills fair: The SEARHC S’áxt’ Hít Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital nursing staff will host its inaugural Nursing and Nursing Support Staff Skills Fair from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 6. This mandatory nursing and nursing support skills fair will be structured as skill review and competency stations strategically placed throughout the hospital’s Litehouse Conference Rooms. The 11 stations will be staffed by nurses, certified nursing assistants, lab personnel, physical therapists and respiratory therapists. Staff are experts in their fields and can answer questions and review the necessary skills. The skills that have been chosen for this year either have mandatory annual competencies required, are high-risk/low-volume procedures, or have otherwise been chosen for review by the request of our own staff. Some of the topics covered at the stations will include restraints, blood cultures, blood warmer, chest tubes, PCA (patient-controlled analgesia) pumps, point of care testing, lifting mechanics, crash cart/defibrillators and tube feedings. This is our first Nursing and Nursing Support Staff Skills Fair at the hospital. Many wonderful folks worked hard to make it happen and we anticipate a very successful start. We hope this will become an excellent educational tradition here at our hospital.

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Regards, Roald