President’s Update for March 12, 2011

In this edition...

In this edition … Chugachmiut visit: On Monday, March 7, SEARHC joined members of the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium and the Alaska Primary Care Association in a visit to Chugachmiut’s health operations in Seward. The purpose of our visit was to see firsthand their journey and implementation of the Lean management system. The Lean system focuses on an organizational culture approach to process improvement. Patrick Anderson and the staff of Chugachmiut shared many of their improvements in patient care and support processes. Chugachmiut provided a wonderful introduction to Lean and demonstrated the opportunities, treasures, and challenges of applying this system in Alaska’s health system. Our Board and executive management will be learning more about the application of Lean from the Virginia Management Production System in early June. Back to top Chilkat Indian Village meeting: On Friday, March 11, we met with the Chilkat Indian Village Tribal Council and Health Committee in Klukwan. The purpose of our visit was to update the Council on current staffing plans and discuss health service delivery options in Klukwan and the upper Chilkat Valley. Drs. David Vastola and Noble Anderson joined Marcia Scott and I in a visit with our Council in Klukwan. Back to top Denali Commission update: We updated the Denali Commission on our funding request for the Hoonah Health Center. This is an exciting project to replace the two 1970s vintage mobile homes that make up the current clinic. The Denali Commission has funded the clinic design project that is nearly complete. The prospective facility is a strong community partnership with the Hoonah Indian Association, City of Hoonah, SEARHC and the Denali Commission. The commission approved our business plan for the clinic. With the commission’s funding, we have raised 72 percent of the construction budget. Final approval is contingent on the remainder of matching funds for the project. In addition to the funds from the Denali Commission, the City of Hoonah has gifted four acres of land for the clinic, the Hoonah Indian Association applied for an Indian Community Development Block Grant (ICDBG), and the SEARHC Board funded utility work for the clinic. We are seeking the remainder of matching funds from the State of Alaska capital budget and the Indian Health Service. We are concerned that federal funding for the IHS small ambulatory program may be impacted by the current budget discussion. We hope that the Legislature and Governor will look favorably on our request. Back to top Turtle presentations in Angoon, Kake and Sitka: Tarik Thomas and Dave Peters from the Alaska Health Care Partnership will make presentations in Angoon, Kake and Sitka about “the turtles,” a name used for home telehealth monitoring machines. The turtles are placed in the homes of elders, who use the machines each day to record their vital signs (blood pressure, glucose levels, cholesterol levels, weight and pulse) so these results can be transmitted to their medical providers. The providers can monitor the vital signs and know when to step in if they see a change in our elder’s health. Dave and Tarik will be at the Kake Senior Center at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, March 16, along with SEARHC Elder Care Nurse Case Manager Auriella Hughes and Kake Elder Care Resource Coordinator Margo Wilson. Tarik will be at the Angoon Senior Center at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, March 23, with Auriella and Angoon Elder Care Resource Coordinator Daniel Johnson. Dave and Tarik will be at the S’áxt’ Hít Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital fourth-floor conference room at noon on Friday, April 1, with Dr. Val Edwards. The presentations in Kake and Angoon are for the community, while the presentation in Sitka is to update the medical staff. Back to top Kake team earns spot in Healthy Native Communities Fellowship: The “Peace of Kake” team of Anthony Gastelum, Georgie Davis-Gastelum and Lori Moore is one of five teams in the nation selected this week for the inaugural Year 2 program of the Healthy Native Communities Fellowship. Peace of Kake originally participated in the Healthy Native Communities Fellowship in 2008, and it will join teams from Shiprock, N.M.; Cass Lake, Minn.; Plummer, Idaho; and Sells, Ariz.; in the new Year 2 program that allows teams to do follow-up work from their previous participation in the fellowship. Each team is required to have members who work for a variety of local organizations. They form coalitions that focus on issues such as substance abuse prevention, indigenous foods, homelessness, community wellness and prevention, and youth and cultural preservation. Peace of Kake is sponsored by the Kake Healing Heart Coalition. Anthony works for the Organized Village of Kake’s tribal youth program, Georgie works as a SEARHC community wellness advocate, and Lori is a village advocate for Sitkans Against Family Violence and a volunteer EMT. The Peace of Kake team will provide a variety of community and cultural projects targeting people ages 18-35, the “Hidden Voices” of the community. The team will participate in monthly coaching sessions, webinars, online tracking and blogging, plus it will travel to Scottsdale, Ariz., on April 10-15, and to Washington, D.C., on Oct. 23-28. Back to top CCTHITA’s Wellness for Caregivers conference: SEARHC staff will join those from several other Southeast Alaska organizations for the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska’s Wellness for Caregivers conference on Thursday, March 17, at Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall in Juneau. The theme for the conference is “Long-Term Care Issues,” and the target audience is unpaid tribal caregivers providing care of elders. A caregiver is the spouse, daughter, son, grandchild, friend or neighbor who is there to assist an elder with their needs. Participants will be provided information about where and how to access caregiver support services, including self-care from local and state agencies. The free workshop begins at 9 a.m. with a prayer followed by the opening welcome by Eagle and Raven clan members. The keynote speaker, Kay Branch of the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium in Anchorage, will speak on “Long-Term Care Issues,” followed by Holly Handler of the Alaska Legal Services. Handler, an attorney at law, will provide information on “Medicaid Eligibility and Benefits.” The afternoon session features small-group meetings and gives caregivers a chance to meet with various agencies. Andrea Ebona-Michel will end the workshop with “What’s in your caregiver basket?” and “What do you do to take care of yourself?” For more information, contact Andrea Ebona-Michel at 463-7168 or 463-7131. Back to top Sitka hosts Behavioral Health Academy: The Behavioral Health Academy, which takes place on April 4-8 at several locations in Sitka, will help introduce people to the wide variety of behavioral health careers available in Alaska. The academy will also let them know what training and skills are needed to fill those positions. The week-long academy is free and open to those ages 16-25. The academy takes place at the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) At Kaník Hít House of Information building (1212 Seward Ave., down the hill from SEARHC Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital), at the University of Alaska Southeast-Sitka Campus and at other locations around Sitka. The Alaska Mental Health Trust is funding the academy, and sponsoring organizations include the Southeast Area Health Education Center (SE AHEC), SEARHC, the University of Alaska Southeast-Sitka Campus, Sitka Counseling and Prevention Services (SCAPS), the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development, the Southeast Alaska Career Center (SEACC), Sitka Tribe of Alaska and Mt. Edgecumbe High School. A limited number of travel scholarships are available for students older than 18, but participants from outside Sitka will have to pay their own housing expenses. Each participant will complete a personal career interest inventory, which is used to match a person’s skills and interests to different occupations. While the academy is free, participants do have to complete a short application that is due by March 25 to the Southeast Alaska Career Center (SEACC). Applications are available at school counselors’ offices and at SEACC, 205 Baranof St., Sitka, 99835. Applications also can be downloaded at http://www.seahecak.org/ or at http://www.ssd.k12.ak.us/SEACC/index.htm, and completed applications can be faxed to (907) 966-1353. The application includes a student statement and requires one letter of recommendation. For additional information, contact event coordinator Meghan Doughty at (503) 545-7761 or by e-mail at mdoughty88@gmail.com, or contact Iva GreyWolf at (907) 966-8674 or iva.greywolf@searhc.org. Back to top ANTHC and SEARHC Injury Prevention provide gun lockers in Hoonah: The Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium and SEARHC Injury Prevention arranged to purchase and delivered 25 gun lockers to the Hoonah Community Gun Locker Project Group. Gun lockers reduce access to lethal means as a protective measure against suicide and firearms accidents. The Hoonah Community Gun Locker Project Group included the SEARHC Hoonah Health Center, Hoonah Organizers for Peace and Equity (H.O.P.E.), the City of Hoonah and the Hoonah School District. Back to top SEARHC adds 24/7 on-call travel coordinators: 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 Alaska Airlines: This last week we met with members of Alaska Airlines management about travel for our patients and staff in the region. We discussed ideas received from our patients at recent community meetings including possible route improvements within Southeast Alaska and to Anchorage. We previously met with airline representatives to discuss the changes in oxygen use by air travelers. At this meeting, we discussed rates and flexibility in the use of the airline’s EasyBiz accounts. We will update board members on the outcome of our meeting in April. Back to top 2011 Ethel Lund Village Health Occupations Program (VHOP) applications available: Each year, SEARHC selects several Southeast-area Native students interested in health careers for the Ethel Lund Village Health Occupations Program (VHOP), and the students spend a week at S’áxt’ Hít Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital in Sitka learning about different health careers and educational requirements. Health careers usually offer good pay and employee benefits, as well as the satisfaction of helping others. Also, the health field is growing, which means plenty of job opportunities for people with the right training. This year's VHOP session is scheduled for April 18-22, with travel dates being April 17 and 23. Students selected to participate in VHOP receive assistance to cover the travel costs to and from Sitka, housing, meals and some evening entertainment. The application deadline is Monday, March 21. Completed applications may be mailed to Romee McAdams at SEARHC, c/o Human Resources Department, 222 Tongass Drive, Sitka, AK 99835. Applications also can be faxed to 966-8404, or scanned and e-mailed to romee.mcadams@searhc.org. Because space is limited, interested students should apply early. Application packets are available at high school offices, at local village corporations or by going to http://www.searhc.org/vhop/. VHOP is sponsored by SEARHC and funded by the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority through the Alaska Area Health Education Center at the Alaska Center for Rural Health. Back to top National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month: March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, and everybody is encouraged to learn more about this disease. Colorectal cancer (cancer of the colon or rectum) ranks among the leading causes of death for Alaska Natives, and Natives are twice as likely to be diagnosed with colorectal cancer as non-Natives. But colorectal cancer also is one of the easiest cancers to prevent with a healthy lifestyle and appropriate screening. Colorectal cancer usually is found in people age 50 or older, but younger people also can get it. The risk for colorectal cancer is higher for people who are obese or eat diets with lots of red meat or processed foods. Heavy alcohol use, tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke also can increase the risk. The early stages of colorectal cancer have few symptoms, which makes screening more important. Precancerous polyps can be detected and removed during screening, before they become cancer. All adults age 50 or older should talk with their medical provider about screening, and so should younger adults who have a personal or family history of colorectal cancer or bowel diseases. To learn more about colorectal cancer, contact your local SEARHC medical provider or contact the SEARHC Colorectal Cancer Screening Program at 966-8541. Back to top Regards, Roald