President’s Update for May 18, 2012

In this edition...

In this edition …

SEARHC hosts 100th course celebration for the Gunaanastí Bill Brady Healing Center: Please mark your calendars for 5:30 p.m. on Friday, May 25, when SEARHC will celebrate the 100th course of the Gunaanastí Bill Brady Healing Center adult residential substance abuse treatment program. This event takes place at the Sheet’ká Kwáan Naa Kahídi in Sitka, and the celebration will feature speakers, a dinner, Native dancers, a slideshow and drumming. Over the years, the program has helped more than 1,000 clients get fresh starts on their lives. SEARHC has had a drug and alcohol treatment program since 1978, when it was an outpatient program housed at S’áxt’ Hít Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital. But in 1996 we moved the program out of the hospital and completely reorganized it. The program is named for longtime SEARHC alcohol treatment program manager Bill Brady, whose Tlingít name was Gunaanastí (which means “Wanderer in a Strange Land”). Bill managed the SEARHC alcohol treatment program until he retired in 1989, and he passed away in 1995 (just before the program was reorganized into its current format, with the first course session starting Nov. 11, 1996). In addition to being a leader in the sobriety movement, Bill also was a longtime leader of the Sitka Community Association (now Sitka Tribe of Alaska) and later became the first chief judge for the Sitka Tribal Court, a position he held until his death. In addition, he was executive director of the Sitka Council on Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse, which used state and federal funding to operate inpatient, outpatient and halfway house programs. For more info about the program, call 966-8360 in Sitka or 1-800-770-8455 (toll-free nationally), or go to http://searhc.org/behavioral_health/bbhc.php.

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Lincoln Bean, AFN delegates win Alaska Tobacco Control Alliance awards: SEARHC Boardmember Lincoln Bean received a Bridge Builder Award, and the Alaska Federation of Natives Delegates and AFN President Julie Kitka received the Trail Blazer Award during the Paving the Way Awards Reception on May 3 at the Alaska Tobacco Control Alliance (ATCA) meeting in Nome. Lincoln represents the Organized Village of Kake on the SEARHC Board, and he represents SEARHC on the Alaska Native Health Board and ATCA. His reading of a resolution at the AFN Convention was moving and informative, helping delegates better understand the issues around tobacco use and smoke-free workplaces. The AFN Delegates then passed the resolution for “Statewide Smoke-free Workplaces to Protect Tribal Citizens from the Dangers of Secondhand Smoke.” The SEARHC Tobacco Program nominated these two winners. Others winning state awards were Pat Luby, Becky Hultberg, the Nome Coalition, and Fighting Against Teen Smoking (a group from Sand Point).

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Haines nurse practitioner Pornson Linson earns doctorate degree: Congratulations to Pornson Linton, a nurse practitioner at the Haines Health Center, who recently completed a Doctorate in Nursing Practice degree with Beth-El College of Nursing and Health Sciences at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs. Pornson has been with SEARHC for about eight years, spending three years as a nurse practitioner and clinic director at the Kake Health Center before moving to the Haines Health Center. She holds a Master of Science in Nursing degree from Texas-Pan American University in Edinburg, Texas, and she is certified as a family nurse practitioner by the American Nurses Credentialing Center Commission on Certification.

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SEARHC nurses complete preceptorship at ANMC: SEARHC nurses Jennie Phillips, RN, and Jolene Jacinsky, RN, who both work at S’áxt’ Hít Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital in Sitka, recently completed an eight-week medical-surgical nursing preceptorship with the Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage. Jennie and Jolene worked with ANMC’s fifth-floor adult inpatient units to develop new skills as medical-surgical nurses. ANMC usually mentors nursing students, not registered nurses, so the program provided benefits to the nurses and mentors. Jennie noted that some of the skills they learned in nursing school aren’t ones they do every day, but during the preceptorship they had to use the skills. ANMC’s Kirsten Gamradt, RN, said Jennie and Jolene brought an additional perspective to the program as working nurses, noting things a regular nursing student might not see.

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Clara Gray and June May complete UAF Rural Nutrition program: Congratulations to Clara Gray and June May for completing the University of Alaska Fairbanks Rural Nutrition Services program. Clara works for the SEARHC WIC (Women, Infants, Children) supplemental nutrition program at S’áxt’ Hít Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital in Sitka, and June is a health educator for the SEARHC Alicia Roberts Medical Center in Klawock. They each earned 12 credits over the past two semesters through UAF. This program will help both women in their current positions at SEARHC, as well as be a benefit for any future aspirations they have in their professional lives.

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Governor declares May 19-26 is Safe Boating Week in Alaska: Gov. Sean Parnell recently proclaimed May 19-26 as Safe Boating Week in Alaska, and 290 SEARHC employees from around the consortium kicked off the week by wearing life jackets at work on Friday, May 18. The promotion also served to honor long-time SEARHC Facilities Department employee Gil Kitka’s birthday on May 18 (Gil passed away in a drowning incident in 2001). The purpose of Safe Boating Week is to emphasize the importance of wearing life jackets when out on Alaska’s cold water, especially since Alaska has the nation’s highest rate of drowning deaths with more than 100 over the past decade. Many of these deaths were in young men, who tend not to wear life jackets even as they make their kids wear them. The promotion also brought attention to the wide variety of new styles of life jackets, which are more comfortable and functional than older styles. Three employees — Lisa Schwartz of Haines Nursing, Terry Littlefield of Sitka Materiel Management and Kari Natwick of Juneau Health Promotion — won a new Stearn’s float coat from the SEARHC Safety Shops in the Wear Your Life Jacket to Work promotion. The employee promotion was sponsored by the SEARHC Injury Prevention and SEARHC Facilities programs.

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Kake graduates eight from WELL-Balanced course: Eight elders in Kake recently completed a 16-session, eight-week WELL-Balanced (WELL is Wise Elders Living Longer) course to help them learn how to prevent elder falls. The course taught the elders how to prevent falls, gave them some exercises they could do to improve their balance, and provided them with home safety checks so they can remove hazards. WELL-Balanced is a community intervention program from the National Resource Center on Native American Aging at the University of North Dakota. SEARHC has trained WELL-Balanced trainers in several communities on how to teach the program. To learn more, contact Jennifer Young at 966-8866 or Renae Mathson at 966-8797.

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Just a reminder …

SEARHC patient advocates serve as customer liaisons: SEARHC has three patient advocate positions in Southeast Alaska — Bryan Whitson (Sitka), Cyndi Reeves (POW), and our Juneau position is temporarily vacant — who serve as customer service liaisons between patients and SEARHC, and help patients navigate their way through SEARHC’s health system. In addition, the Alaska Native Medical Center provides Anchorage-based patient advocates who serve patients from around the state receiving care at the Alaska Native Medical Center. Patients living in Sitka, Angoon, Kake, Pelican, Tenakee Springs, Yakutat, Petersburg and Wrangell should contact Bryan Whitson at 966-8860. Patients in Klawock, Craig, Hydaburg, Kasaan, Thorne Bay and other POW communities should contact Cyndi Reeves at 755-4983 (965-0040, cell). Since our Juneau position is vacant, patients in Juneau, Haines, Skagway, Klukwan and Hoonah should contact Cyndi until we can hire a new Juneau patient advocate (use Cyndi’s numbers above or the Juneau patient advocate’s number of 463-6656, which will be routed to Cyndi). Patients traveling to Anchorage for care should contact the ANMC patient advocates at 729-3990.

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SEARHC hosts 24/7 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/Suicide Prevention Program Manager Wilbur Brown at 966-8753.

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SEARHC provides 24/7 on-call travel coordinators for patients traveling for care: SEARHC has a 24/7 on-call travel coordinator to assist patients needing after-hours help while traveling for a medical appointment. The on-call staff person helps patients find new connections when a plane is diverted by weather, or assists with late-night housing. For assistance, call 1-800-916-8566 (toll-free in Alaska) or 1-907-966-8345 in Sitka, and then follow the prompts. To help us better help you, please call as soon as you know your travel schedule has been changed. For patients needing assistance from the Community Resources Program (contract health), such as emergency health care while traveling, call 1-866-966-8316 (toll-free).

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Charles Clement SEARHC President/CEO