President’s Update for May 7, 2011

In this edition...

In this edition … Cancer survivor retreat on Prince of Wales Island: SEARHC, the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium and Mayo Clinic will host a cancer care event on the weekend of May 20-22 at Shelter Cove Lodge on Prince of Wales Island. This event is for Alaska Native men who are survivors of prostate and/or testicular cancers. It will be a chance to gather with other men’s cancer survivors to share experiences and talk with health care experts. Evening discussions focusing on treatment complications, survivorship and on-going health concerns will be led by Dr. Greg Marino (oncologist with the Alaska Native Medical Center), and Dr. Simon Kim and Dr. John Tilburt of the Mayo Clinic. Wilbur Brown and Dr. David Vastola of SEARHC will facilitate the event. In addition to the group discussions and question-and-answer sessions, the retreat features recreational opportunities such as a guided hike or a day of fishing in Bucareli Bay. SEARHC hopes this event will help it increase resources and support for male cancer survivors in Southeast Alaska, since current resources are limited. Back to top Bacterial meningococcal infection: On Sunday, May 1, a person from Prince of Wales Island was hospitalized after being diagnosed and treated for a bacterial meningococcal infection. Since then, employees at the Alicia Roberts Medical Center, the Craig Public Health Center, the PeaceHealth Craig Clinic and the Alaska Section of Epidemiology notified and treated more than 35 people who had close contact with the person. They found one more possible case, and that person has been transported for further treatment. Bacterial meningococcal infections are rare, and usually are found only in people who have had close contact with someone else with the infection. Close contact means people living in the same household, or people who have share saliva or other bodily fluids through kissing or shared drinks, cigarettes, pipes, needles, etc. Casual contact at school, local businesses and other people’s homes is not considered close contact and should be safe. A bacterial meningococcal infection can be quite serious, so people should remain alert to the symptoms — fever, severe sudden headache, nausea, vomiting, stiff neck, pain in the shoulders and back, and/or a red pinpoint rash. High fever and irritability are symptoms found in very young children. Symptoms may appear within one to 10 days after exposure, and usually appear within the first three or four days. If not treated in time, bacterial meningococcal infections can lead to severe brain damage, hearing loss, the amputation of fingers and/or toes, and even death. The infections can be treated with certain antibiotics, and the earlier the infection is diagnosed the better. There also is a vaccine available through the state’s Vaccines for Children program (for those up to age 18). Anybody experiencing symptoms should seek immediate treatment at one of the three major clinics in the Craig/Klawock area — the Alicia Roberts Medical Center (755-4800), the Craig Public Health Center (826-3433) or the PeaceHealth Craig Clinic (826-3257). Back to top Ethel Lund Medical Center adds echocardiography services: The Ethel Lund Medical Center (ELMC) started offering echocardiography services for the first time in April. Ultrasonographer Nicholas Wilson, who is from the Apache Tribe of Oklahoma, joined the ELMC staff in January after previously working in Dillingham. He is a registered x-ray technician and registered to provide general, vascular and echocardiography ultrasound procedures. SEARHC currently performs approximately 225 echocardiograms annually and about 80 stress echocardiograms. We are looking forward to increasing the number of imaging tests. At this time we do not perform stress echocardiograms in Juneau, but we are looking to add the service in the near future. Back to top Annual Self Governance Conference: The 2011 Annual Self Governance Conference took place this week in California. Tribes and tribal organizations from across the country attend the conference to discuss common issues, receive updates, and communicate with federal partners about self governance. The first half of the week was dedicated to Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) programs while the later days related to the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). The health services meeting began on Wednesday, May 4, with a national tribal caucus on the Indian Health Service and strategies. Dr. Yvette Roubideaux, Indian Health Service Director, provided a keynote address during her first self governance conference since appointment as the IHS Director. Mr. Paul Dioguardi, Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, DHHS, also provided a keynote address. In general assembly, there were updates on the Indian Health Service, implementation of the Affordable Care Act and reauthorization of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act provisions, and from the Office of Personnel Management on access to federal employee health benefits by tribal organizations. Several concurrent breakout sessions occurred over two days. These sessions included:
  • Health care reform
  • IHS contract health service update
  • Contract support costs update
  • Tribal government performance report act and best practices
  • Expansion of self governance in DHHS
  • Collaborative approach to suicide prevention
  • Office of Information Technology Tribal shares update
  • Improving patient care (model used by IHS from the Institute for Healthcare Improvement)
  • Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
  • Meaningful use for electronic health records
  • Accessing federal supply sources.
Back to top Alaska co-signers meet with Dr. Roubideaux: During the annual self governance conference, co-signers to the Alaska Tribal Health Compact held a meeting with Dr. Yvette Roudideaux, IHS Director. Co-signers caucused on health issues and policies for discussion with the IHS Director prior to the meeting. Issues presented to Dr. Roubideaux included: identification of a “ratifier” in final negotiations; Affordable Care Act definitions of “Indian” to include the broadest definition; electronic health record meaningful use and CMS reimbursement; Secretary’s tribal advisory committee; and Federal Employee Health Benefits Program (FEHBP). Back to top VA offers tribal representative training: The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hosted a three-day training for tribal representatives. The training oriented members to the VA so they can assist veterans in applying for health benefits. Numerous attendees were from Southeast Alaska. Participants included staff members Michael Lang and Libby Watanabe, as well as our Juneau board member, Sue Ann Lindoff. The training included a tour of the new VA medical clinic, revealing a state-of-the-art medical facility where staff utilizes Vista-based electronic health records software. The training was described as extensive. We hope this is a continued step towards partnership with the VA to increase the enrollment of tribal veterans residing in Southeast Alaska. Last fall, the VA provided enrollment training to our SEARHC registration staff to orient them with the VA health benefits application process. Increased collaboration and access to tribal facilities for VA services to tribal veterans is a hallmark of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act reauthorization (part of the Affordable Care Act). Back to top Jilkaat Kwáan Heritage Center celebrates Culture Day events: The Jilkaat Kwáan Heritage Center invited SEARHC to attend its two-day Culture Day events held on May 5-6 in Klukwan. Libby Watanabe of the Juneau Executive Office attended the Klukwan Hospitality House dedication event, and helped coordinate the transport of the SEARHC canoe. The SEARHC canoe will be a part of the ceremonial unveiling and launch of the 37-foot dugout “Tlingít Head Canoe.” SEARHC board members Kim Strong (Chilkat Indian Village) and Mayor Jan Hill (Chilkoot Indian Association) provided leadership and participation in these cultural events. Back to top Surgery volumes jump at S’áxt’ Hít Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital: The number of surgery cases seen at S’áxt Hít Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital jumped from 126 cases in March to 149 cases in April. The March breakdown included 80 endoscopies, 10 ear/nose/throat procedures, nine obstetrics/gynecology procedures, six dental procedures and 16 general surgeries. The April breakdown was 86 endoscopies, four ENT procedures, 18 Ob/Gyn procedures, five dental procedures and 27 general surgeries. One reason for the increase in Ob/Gyn procedures is we now do uterine ablation procedures with Novasure for uterine bleeding (instead of hysterectomies), and we also started doing vaginal hysterectomies. We are fully staffed with the addition of a second general surgeon and a new obstetrics/gynecology specialist earlier this year. Our surgery team is building their practices. A new anesthesiologist should start working in August. Back to top SEARHC to host local Walk for Life events on May 14: The SEARHC Behavioral Health/Suicide Prevention Program will host Walk for Life events starting at 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 14, in Hoonah, Angoon, Kake, Klukwan, Wrangell and Juneau, with Sitka to host a similar event at a time to be announced in June and Metlakatla to host an event on July 16. This is part of a statewide movement that started in 2009 in Kotzebue to have community walks at the same time on the same date in many locations. These walks celebrate life and say “No!” to suicide. Besides SEARHC, other sponsors include the Alaska Division of Public Health; the Hoonah School District; the Hoonah Behavioral Health and Suicide Workgroup; the Jessie Jim Health Center, Wrangell and Metlakatla Health Centers; the Juneau, Klukwan, Kake and Sitka Behavioral Health Prevention Programs; and the Northwest Arctic Borough. Back to top SEARHC to host May diabetes conference in Juneau: The SEARHC Diabetes Program will host two free diabetes prevention and control training events on May 24 and 26 in Juneau. The first event is a day of policy training from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, May 24, at the Juneau Arts and Cultural Center. The policy training will be led by Joanie Fogel from the Center of Disease Control and Prevention’s Healthy Communities Program through the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services. The second event is a day-long conference called “Working Together to Prevent and Control Diabetes in Southeast Alaska,” which takes place from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Juneau’s Centennial Hall. Keynote presentations will be made by Dr. Julien Naylor with the SEARHC Diabetes Program; Meera Narayanan of the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC); Dr. Terry Raymer of ANTHC; Gary Ferguson, N.D. of ANTHC; and nationally recognized Native health educator Darryl Tonemah, Ph.D., M.Ed. A limited number of travel scholarships are available for these two free events. To learn more about how to apply for one of the travel scholarships, please contact Renae Mathson at 966-8797 or renae.mathson@searhc.org by the close of business on Monday, May 9. If you plan to attend the conference, but don’t need a travel scholarship, please RSVP with Renae Mathson by the close of business on Thursday, May 19. Back to top ANTHC hires Gary Shaw as ANMC administrator: The Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC) recently hired Gary Shaw as the administrator of the Alaska Native Medical Center (ANMC), and Mr. Shaw started work on Monday. He comes to ANMC from Bayhealth Medical Center in Dover, Del., where he had been VP of Operations since 2006. Bayview Health is a not-for-profit hospital system with 458 physicians and 2,900 total staff, and gross revenue of $900 million. Mr. Shaw started his health care career as a Navy hospital corpsman, and later served as an administrator, CEO and COO at several rural and urban hospitals. He lived in Anchorage from 1956-1969, when his father was a bush pilot in Alaska (Mr. Shaw also is a pilot and aircraft owner), and Mr. Shaw’s brother, Cordell, is a current Anchorage resident. Mr. Shaw holds a Master of Science degree in operations management from the University of Arkansas, and a Bachelor of Science degree in health care/business administration from Southern Illinois University. He is a Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives. Back to top SEARHC honors National Nurses Week: SEARHC is pleased to honor the work of our nurses as part of National Nurses Week this week. National Nurses Week is an annual event celebrated throughout the U.S. The event usually starts on May 6, National Nurses Day, and ends on May 12, the birthday of the founder of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale. SEARHC nurses extended this celebration through May 13. This year’s theme, selected by the American Nurses Association, is “Nurses: Trusted to Care.” SEARHC employs more than 120 registered nurses (RN), licensed practical nurses (LPN) and family nurse practitioners (FNP). Our nurses provide exceptional care to our patients throughout Southeast Alaska. Back to top Regards, Roald