President’s Update for June 18, 2011

In this edition...

In this edition … National Nursing Assistants Week is June 16-23: Please join SEARHC as we honor our CNAs (certified nursing assistants) on June 16-23 during the 34th annual National Nursing Assistants Week. This event is sponsored by the National Network of Career Nursing Assistants, which chose the theme “Nursing Assistants: New Roles, New Goals” this year. SEARHC employs CNAs at S’áxt’ Hít Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital in Sitka and Ethel Lund Medical Center in Juneau. The CNAs support our physician and nursing staff by escorting patients to exam rooms and checking vital signs when patients arrive for appointments, helping hospital patients get into and out of bed, serving patient meals, helping patients get exercise and providing other direct-care services as well as activities of daily living. During the week, the hospital will host special brown-bag lunches with educational training for the CNAs. The event culminates on June 23, when CNA of the Year awards will be announced at the hospital. Back to top Prosthodontist group visits MEH: Four dentists from the Academy of Prosthodontics Foundation’s Outreach Program, two implant technicians from Straumann and several prosthodontics residents were in Sitka on June 13-17 as part of their annual prosthodontics specialty clinic for elders. Dr. Thomas Taylor, Professor and Head of the Department of Reconstructive Sciences at the University of Connecticut School of Dentistry, led the group on his 14th annual trip to Sitka. Also in the group were Dr. H.P. Weber (Professor and Chair of the Department of Restorative Sciences at Tufts University), Dr. David Felton (Professor of Prosthodontics at the University of North Carolina) and Dr. David Shafer (Professor and Head of the Department of Oral and Maxilofacial Surgery at the University of Connecticut). Mike Ursu and Seth Tibbets were the Straumann representatives. All of the providers on the trip volunteered their time and services, and all the dental fabrication materials and implants were donated (with Straumann donating the implants). The group saw 13 patients for dentures, making 23 dentures with a net value of services of $57,500. They also saw seven implant patients, making 14 implants worth $35,000, and they saw five dental surgery cases (worth $3,000). The trip provided $95,500 in valuable services and equipment for our patients and priceless training to our dentists and the dental residents. Back to top State issues PSP warnings for Alaska shellfish: The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services is advising Alaskans not to harvest and eat shellfish because of some of the highest levels of paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) ever recorded. So far this spring, at least 18 people in Metlakatla and Ketchikan have been sickened by PSP, with a couple of them ending up in the intensive care unit. Last year there were two deaths attributed to PSP (in Juneau and Haines, with the Haines death also listing heart failure as an official cause), which were the state’s first PSP-related deaths since 1997. PSP is very serious, and if untreated it only takes two hours to be lethal. PSP toxin levels are so high right now that eating just one affected mussel can be fatal. There are many myths about PSP. However, the state reports that shellfish can still retain the PSP toxin in its system for months and even years after a harmful algal bloom. The state does not routinely monitor Alaska beaches, and it is very risky to eat shellfish that has not been tested in a lab for PSP. All commercially harvested and sold shellfish is tested for PSP (including clams, oysters, etc.). The state’s warning says all locally harvested shellfish — including clams, cockles, mussels, oysters, geoducks and scallops — can have PSP and should be avoided. Crab and geoducks don’t get PSP, but they eat shellfish that can carry the PSP toxin so you should avoid eating the viscera/guts by removing the digestive organs and washing the crab thoroughly in clean water before cooking. For giant scallops, only the adductor muscle is safe to eat. Shellfish that don’t filter-feed are safe from PSP and OK to eat, including shrimp, abalone, sea cucumbers, chitons/gumboots. No finfish (salmon, halibut, cod, rockfish, etc.) are affected by PSP, and it is safe to gather seaweed and beach asparagus (just rinse well). We have posted an informational page about the PSP warnings on the SEARHC website that has links to state warnings, fact sheets, first aid tips and other resources, http://searhc.org/common/pages/whatsnew/story8/index.php. We also have issued our own press release urging people not to eat shellfish, http://www.searhc.org/common/pages/pressreleases/detail.php?id=190. Back to top SEARHC Board to meet: The SEARHC Board of Directors is meeting this next week for its quarterly meetings. The Accreditation Governing Body will meet Monday in Haines at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall. The Board will meet Tuesday in Klukwan at the Alaska Native Sisterhood Hall. On Wednesday, the Board will meet in Haines at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall. On Thursday, the Board will meet at the Skagway Traditional Council offices. Back to top Walk for Life suicide prevention event takes place June 25 in Sitka: The SEARHC Behavioral Health Suicide Prevention Program will host a free “Walk For Life” suicide prevention event at 9 a.m. on Saturday, June 25, in Sitka. Registration starts at 8:30 a.m. at Blatchley Middle School, and participants will walk through downtown Sitka and eventually arrive at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall. Walk For Life t-shirts are available for the first 35 participants, with snacks available at ANB Hall after the walk. The SEARHC Behavioral Health/Suicide Prevention Program hosted Walk For Life events in several other communities on May 14, but had to delay Sitka’s event due to scheduling conflicts. Walk For Life events got started in May 2009 in the Northwest Arctic Borough, and since then have spread to the Nome-Kawerak area, Bethel area and North Slope Borough. The theme for the events is “Live, Laugh, Love: Let’s celebrate life and say ‘No!’ to suicide.” To learn more about the Sitka event, contact Sheryl McAllister at 966-8933. Back to top Two selected for DHAT training: Two current SEARHC Dental employees have been selected to participate in the two-year Dental Health Aide Therapist training program. Savannah Bonorden of Sitka and Cora Roberts of Hoonah will go to Anchorage to start the program on July 25. After a year of study in Anchorage, they will head to Bethel for the second year of the program. When they complete the program, Savannah will return to Sitka and Cora will work in Hoonah. Both students are Alaska Native. DHAT training includes learning to provide midlevel dental services such as filling cavities and extracting teeth. The Dental Health Aide Therapist program has helped Alaska provide basic dental care (with dentist oversight) in rural communities where it’s hard to recruit dentists to live and practice. SEARHC currently has two DHATs on staff — Brian James in Sitka and Dan Kennedy in Klawock. Back to top Customer service online tracking system launched: SEARHC is pleased to announce the full deployment of the Customer Experience Feedback System that is provided through web-based training to all staff. It is important for patients to know their input is valuable and makes a difference in the level of service we provide. With this new tool in place, any staff member of SEARHC can enter a “ticket” that automatically is sent to our patient advocates who facilitate the follow-up on all issues. The SEARHC Performance Improvement Team monitors recurring issues and recommends improvements based on the data. The system is an important tool to fulfill our mission to provide the highest quality health services in partnership with Native people. Back to top Regards, Roald