President’s Update for Jan. 8, 2011

In this edition...

In this edition … S’áxt’ Hít Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital joins improvement group: The S’áxt’ Hít Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital Outpatient Department is participating in Improving Patient Care 3 (IPC 3), a joint venture between the Indian Health Service, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), and local Tribal health organizations. This is the third session of the program, which is an intensive initiative aimed at helping outpatient departments across the Tribal health develop a “medical home” for patients. Medical homes improve both service and quality of care for all of our patients. The Ethel Lund Medical Center (ELMC) participated in the IPC2 program, and ELMC’s success led to S’áxt’ Hít applying for the program. A team from S’áxt’ Hít Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital will be meeting on a weekly schedule with other teams from across the country to collectively share ideas about how to improve the way that we practice outpatient medicine. To learn more about the IPC program, go to http://www.ihs.gov/ipc/index.cfm. Back to top Brenda Parnell hired as Chief Financial Officer: After a national search with an excellent pool of candidates, SEARHC has hired Brenda Parnell, MBA and CPA, as its new Chief Financial Officer. Brenda will be in Juneau to start work on Jan. 31st. Brenda comes to SEARHC from Barrow, where she has been Vice President of Finance/CFO with the Arctic Slope Native Association, the tribal health care organization that manages the Samuel Simmonds Hospital and provides medical services to Alaska Native people living in the North Slope Borough. She also has 12 years of experience in financial and compliance leadership roles in the health care industry, including with Samaritan Healthcare in Moses Lake, Wash., South Peninsula Hospital in Homer and the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC) in Anchorage. While at ANTHC, Brenda helped develop the corporate compliance program. In addition to health care, Brenda has worked in the insurance and banking industries. She also has been a state and national examiner in the Malcolm Baldridge Performance Excellence Program. She holds a Master of Business Administration degree in health care from the University of Colorado-Denver, and a Bachelor of Science degree in economics and finance from Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester, N.H. Brenda also earned a Certification in Healthcare Regulatory Compliance from the University of Washington in Seattle. Brenda has a good mixture of experience in tribal and not-for-profit health care. We are very pleased Brenda is joining our management team at SEARHC. Back to top Ethel Lund Medical Center accepted into IPC Quality Innovation Learning Network: The SEARHC Ethel Lund Medical Center (ELMC) was accepted into the IPC (Improving Patient Care) “Quality Innovation Learning Network.” This network is for sites that have already completed the IPC2 program offered by the Indian Health Service and Institute for Healthcare Improvement. We are excited to have ELMC continue its focus on our Improving Patient Care. Each ELMC pod now has an IPC team, and an IPC leader. Each pod is currently working on defining its goals, and will begin to test its ideas on PDSA (plan, do, study, act – our official improvement process) cycles. Patient access, pharmacy and referral departments are also active members in the pod IPC teams, which will broaden our improvement efforts. Back to top New CT scanner installed at S’áxt’ Hít Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital: The S’áxt’ Hít Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital is upgrading its computed tomography (CT) scanner this month, with a Toshiba Aquilion 32 unit replacing the current Toshiba Aquilion 4. The new scanner will do studies faster, with dramatically improved images and less radiation exposure for the patient. It also can be upgraded from a 32-slice to a 64-slice machine, which can be used for dynamic images such as cardiac blood flow images (CT cardiography). We may be able to offer this service in the future. Technicians from Toshiba arrived in Sitka on Jan. 4 to start taking apart the old machine so the new machine can be installed by Jan. 17. Back to top UAA nursing students to start program at ELMC: On Jan. 13, several Juneau-based nursing students from the University of Alaska Anchorage School of Nursing will start a clinical rotation at the Ethel Lund Medical Center. The students will be completing their obstetrics and pediatrics rotation, so they will be working with ELMC nursing staff in those areas. The students will be in the clinic on Thursdays and occasional Monday mornings. Their last day at the clinic will be March 24. We see this as a great opportunity to train the next generation of nurses in Alaska and increase access to careers in tribal health care. Back to top Elder care resource coordinator at Kake Health Center: Margo Wilson accepted the elder care resource coordinator position in Kake and will begin orientation on Monday. Margo is a half-time employee, and she will be active in our community with elders. Margo will be supervised by Auriella Hughes, our Sitka-based elder care nurse case manager for Kake and Angoon. Auriella will link up with Margo through video cameras installed on our computers. In this way, they will really be able to work together, and virtually “side by side,” for the Kake elders’ benefit. When Auriella travels to Kake this week to train Margo, she is bringing with her longtime occupational therapist and massage therapist Moira “Mo” McBride. Dr. Valerie Edwards created a list of more than 20 elders with needs like rheumatoid arthritis, stroke, hip fractures, chronic pain, are wheelchair-bound, are a frail elder or just that they could really benefit from some hands-on therapy. Auriella, Margo and Mo are doing home visits for the bulk of the elders this week, but a few who are interested and able will come into the clinic for extended care. Back to top SEARHC hires new director of performance improvement: We are pleased to announce Altaf Ibrahim, MHSA, has been hired as director of performance improvement. He will join SEARHC on Feb. 14. Altaf will oversee and coordinate a consortium-wide approach to quality improvement. The quality managers, patient advocates, infection control/safety officers, employee health nurse and data specialist will join the performance improvement division as part of this effort. Altaf comes to SEARHC from the Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic in Washington State, the second largest community-based health care system in the United States, where he was director of quality and accreditation. His 10 years of professional experience includes work on Joint Commission accreditation, peer reviews, credentialing, risk management, infection control, patient safety and employee training. Originally from Pakistan, he initially trained there as a plastic surgeon. Over the years he transitioned into quality improvement and chronic disease management with a focus on improving patient care. Altaf holds a Masters in Health Services Administration degree from the University of Detroit-Mercy where he graduated with honors. He earned a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) from Sind Medical College in Karachi, Pakistan. He has written numerous academic papers, conducted clinical research and presented on the national level. In his spare time, Altaf enjoys gardening and volunteering for charity organizations. He is married and has two children. Back to top State working on new tribal consultation policy for CMS: On Wednesday, Jan. 5, the Alaska Tribal Health Directors (ATHD) hosted a teleconference to provide its draft input of the new Alaska Medicaid and Denali KidCare Tribal Consultation Policy and Procedures. ATHD is a committee of the Alaska Native Health Board (ANHB). The comments of the health directors will go to the ANHB directors on Monday, Jan. 10, for approval. The state plans to submit its plan for consultation to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) before the Alaska Tribal Health Caucus this spring. The health directors made several recommendations to ANHB and requested the State of Alaska have a full consultation with our tribes as the ANHB (and the ATHD) are advocacy organizations. While far from concluded, this is certainly a positive step forward for consultation between state health agencies and the tribes. It is certainly longtime wish of the tribal health organizations. The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services plans to consult on a regular basis with representatives from the state’s 229 federally recognized tribes on policy, planning and budget matters likely to have a direct effect on American Indians/Alaska Natives and Indian health programs. We hope that this progress continues. Back to top ANHB and SEARHC send letter to IHS about improving veteran care: The Alaska Native Health Board (ANHB) and other tribal health organizations recently sent a letter to Indian Health Service Director Dr. Yvette Roubideaux regarding the care of veterans and recent IHS negotiations with the Department of Veterans Affairs on a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The letters encouraged the VA and IHS to include tribal health programs and tribes as partners in the work on the MOU. Taking care of our veterans is extremely important to us. American Indian/Alaska Native people have the highest rate per capita of military service of any group in the country. The new Indian Health Care Improvement Act includes provisions to strengthen the partnerships between IHS and VA health care programs, which were happy to see because we have so many Native veterans who deserve the best care. But the IHS is a direct service provider for fewer than half of the nation’s tribes, since many tribal health organizations, such as SEARHC, have assumed management of their own health care services. The ANHB letter requests seats at the table for representatives of the tribes, tribal health organizations and urban Indian health programs. While we share many perspectives, we have different concerns than the IHS when it comes to billing/reimbursement, being able to provide services for veterans in tribal health facilities in rural communities without a VA facility, improved enrollment and screening for VA benefits and services, cultural awareness and competence, training and sharing, and the temporary assignment of U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps officers to the VA. Back to top 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