President’s Update for March 19, 2011

In this edition...

In this edition … Congress passes another continuing resolution: On Friday, March 18, Congress adopted and President Obama signed another continuing resolution for the Federal Fiscal Year (FFY) 2011 budget that will keep the federal government in business through April 8. This is the sixth continuing resolution Congress has passed since FY2011 started on Oct. 1, and when this continuing resolution ends there will be only six months left in the fiscal year. This continuing resolution included an additional $6 billion in cuts agreed on by the Democrat-led Senate and White House (in addition to the $4 billion in cuts from the continuing resolution passed on March 2), but it did not include the full $60 billion in cuts the budget passed by the Republican-led House more than a month ago. While this continuing resolution gives Congress more time to hash out the budget, the mutually agreed upon cuts were the easy choices in what has become a contentious stand-off over the federal budget. With the low-hanging fruit off the table, the choices become tougher and we still could face a government shut down if an agreement is not reached by April 8. There are several cuts in the budget passed by the House that could impact some of our grant programs, mostly in Health Resource Service Administration (HRSA), Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA). So far these cuts have not appeared in the continuing resolutions. The use of continuing resolutions also means the budget this year is being funded at FY2010 levels. Continuing resolutions cause cash-flow problems for many organizations that rely on federal funding because we receive partial payments several days after the period ends instead of our usual lump-sum payments at the start of the fiscal year. It also means that some new features from the Indian Health Care Improvement Act have not been funded based on last year’s budget. We will continue to follow this situation and we hope for a quick resolution. Back to top SEARHC hosts ‘Nolan the Colon’ for Southeast tour: SEARHC will host “Nolan the Colon” for a tour of Juneau, Haines, Prince of Wales Island and Sitka during March, April and May. Nolan the Colon is an inflatable, interactive super colon, standing more than 10 feet tall and 25 feet long, designed to raise awareness about the importance of colorectal cancer screening. Nolan is big enough for people to walk through, so they can see what a healthy colon looks like and see how precancerous polyps can grow to become colorectal cancer. 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. The tour opens on Thursday through Saturday, March 24-26 (the last three days of the Gold Medal basketball tournament) when Nolan will be at the Nugget Mall in Juneau during mall hours. The SEARHC Colorectal Cancer Screening Program will hold daily drawings for door prizes, including several donated by mall merchants, while Nolan is in Juneau. The next stop on the tour is the Haines Community Health Fair from 8-11 a.m. on Saturday, April 23, at the Haines School. Nolan then goes to Prince of Wales Island for several events on Monday through Thursday, May 2-5. The Southeast Tour concludes in Sitka at a Tribal health fair from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, May 7, at Harrigan Centennial Hall. Daily door prizes are available to all at each tour stop, and those who meet certain eligibility criteria and visit one of Nolan’s events can register for a grand prize of 15,000 miles from Alaska Airlines, enough for one in-state round-trip ticket. For more information about Nolan the Colon’s Southeast tour, please call SEARHC WISEWOMAN Women’s and Colorectal Health Programs Health Systems Specialist Becky Koslovich at 966-8936. For more information about colorectal cancer and the SEARHC Colorectal Cancer Screening Program, talk to your SEARHC medical provider or call 966-8541. Owned by the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium Cancer Program and the Alaska Colorectal Cancer Partnership, Nolan the Colon travels the state to educate people about colorectal cancer and the importance of getting screened. Back to top New digital mammograms at Ethel Lund Medical Center: Our mammography service at the Ethel Lund Medical Center in Juneau will be down from April 25 through May 2 so we can upgrade our equipment. There will be limited services available on May 3-5 as we test the equipment. We should be ready to provide digital diagnostic mammograms for the first time in Juneau. Our new Hologic digital mammography unit means images immediately can be reviewed by a radiologist, instead of having to send film to Sitka for review. The image quality will be better, and digital imaging avoids some of the sensitivity problems with film that can cause an inaccurate diagnosis. Digital mammography also protects the environment because we no longer will have to stock a darkroom with chemicals and film. Back to top Kick Butts Day on March 23 is a good time to quit tobacco: Have friends been thinking about quitting tobacco? Kick Butts Day is Wednesday, March 23, and that is a good day to remind them to quit. Kick Butts Day is a national event sponsored by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids to empower youth to rise up and take action against tobacco use. Students from all over the country will hold community and school events that teach other youth about the dangers of tobacco, and encourage people to quit. If you have been thinking about quitting but need help, the SEARHC Tobacco Program provides free one-on-one counseling and nicotine replacement therapy (such as patches, gum and lozenges) to Natives living in Southeast Alaska. To learn more, call the SEARHC Tobacco Program at 1-888-966-8875 (toll-free in Alaska), or call tobacco educators Kristin Schmidt at 966-8721 in Sitka, Rowena Reeves at 364-4440 in Juneau or Sandy Demmert at 755-4925 on Prince of Wales Island. 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 28 (this is an extended deadline). 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 Sitka hosts Behavioral Health Academy on April 4-8: 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, and 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 SEARHC At Kaník Hít (1212 Seward Ave., down the hill from the 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, AK, 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 Reminder that 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 Regards, Roald