President’s Update for Nov. 9, 2012

In this edition...

In this edition …

SEARHC hires Michael E. Douglas, JD, as general counsel: Please welcome Michael E. Douglas, JD, who started work as the SEARHC general counsel this week. Michael has been serving as interim general counsel for SEARHC since June. He joins SEARHC after spending the past five-plus years as an associate attorney with the Anchorage office of the Indian law firm of Sonosky, Chambers, Sachse, Miller & Munson, LLP, where he worked on a wide variety of tribal health issues. Prior to joining Sonosky, Chambers, et al, Michael served as a law clerk for Alaska Superior Court Judge Trevor N. Stephens in Ketchikan. He also has been a public defender intern with the University of Washington Law School Tribal Court Criminal Defense Clinic in Tulalip, Wash., a summer clerk with the Native American Rights Fund in Boulder, Colo., and a summer associate with the law firm of Williams, Kastner & Gibbs, PLLC, in Seattle. Michael earned his Juris Doctorate (JD) degree from the University of Washington Law School in Seattle, and he also holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the Law and Diversity program of the Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Wash. Michael has been admitted to the State of Washington Bar Association and the State of Alaska Bar Association, and he has been admitted to practice before the U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Michael is Haida (Eagle moiety) and he is the grandson of Georgianna and Julius Douglas from Hydaburg. Michael is a past board member and president of the Northwest Indian Bar Association, and he has been a volunteer mentor with the Alaska Court System Color of Justice Program.

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SEARHC clinics to be open on Veterans Day: All SEARHC health care facilities will be open regular business hours this year on Monday, Nov. 12, in honor of Veterans Day. Veterans Day is designated as Nov. 11 each year. But when that date falls on a Sunday, as it does this year, many organizations celebrate the holiday on Monday. Many of our SEARHC patients and employees are veterans, and SEARHC is proud to honor the sacrifice of these men and women who helped protect our great nation and the citizens of Southeast Alaska. SEARHC also reminds patients who are veterans that we now have staff who are trained to help get you enrolled for Veterans Affairs health care services. There are four employees who are coordinating VA enrollment services at SEARHC — Juanita DeRose (364-4465) for SEARHC patients in Juneau, Judy Mills-Brown (966-8307) and Michael Lang (966-8488) for Sitka patients, and Nellie Kookesh (966-8814) for patients who live in our other SEARHC communities. Please contact your local SEARHC health care facility or local SEARHC patient advocate if you have any questions.

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Alaska VA Healthcare System sending reps to POW to assist veterans: Sharon Strutz-Norton and Troy Townsend of the Alaska VA Healthcare System will be on Prince of Wales Island this weekend to help veterans enroll for Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care benefits. Sharon and Troy will host a table from 5-7 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 10, before the American Legion Bob Hope OSO Show at the Craig High School Commons. The POW Health Network also will have an informational table and a refreshment booth at the show. On Sunday, Sharon and Troy will be at the Klawock veterans breakfast from 8:30-9:30 a.m. at the Salvation Army Building, then they will travel to meet from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Thorne Bay Cafe and from 3-5 p.m. at the Hydaburg Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall. For more information, contact Gretchen Klein of the Prince of Wales Health Network at 826-2410.

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SEARHC Electronic Health Records (EHR) project starts setting dates to go live: The Electronic Health Record (EHR) implementation leadership team has outlined a schedule for go-lives at all SEARHC clinics, starting with the Alicia Roberts Medical Center in Klawock on March 1, 2013. The goal is to be using the RPMS EHR for all ambulatory care visits at all sites by Sept. 30, 2013. Inpatient, surgery and ER will follow six months later. This outline was presented to about 50 SEARHC employees by videoconference this past Wednesday (Nov. 7). There were lots of questions and project manager Peter Apathy will publish the questions and answers later in the week. Since my last update the EHR implementation team has been hard at work on many fronts — updating the RPMS radiology, pharmacy and lab packages; planning a cutover from SCI scheduling to the RPMS scheduling package; documenting nutrition visits; assessing how best to implement consults/referrals; testing templates for medical visits; and taking initial steps to implement a scanning system for clinical documentation. In addition, Libby Watanabe conducted a number of trainings for patient access representatives.

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POW Health Network trying to ‘Raise the Bar’ on immunization rates: The Prince of Wales Health Network, which includes SEARHC as a member, is trying to “Raise The Bar” by increasing the number of children who are adequately vaccinated from the current 65 percent to 90 percent. All POW health providers, including our five SEARHC clinics on the island, are participating in this initiative. Health providers are using the Alaska Immunization Information System’s Vac TrAK program to maintain vaccination records of Alaskans of all ages (this program allows providers statewide to see which shots are current and which ones are needed, and the program is helpful when families move and vaccination records are needed by new school districts). Click here to learn more about the initiative.

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SEARHC to host Juneau event Nov. 17 for International Survivors of Suicide Day: The SEARHC Behavioral Health/Suicide Prevention Program will host an event from 2:30-5:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 17, at the Hammond Room at Centennial Hall as part of the 14th Annual International Survivors of Suicide Day. This event is free and walk-ins are welcome, but people are encouraged to pre-register to help us plan for the event. The schedule includes check-in and registration from 2:30-3 p.m., watching the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s DVD broadcast from 3-4 p.m., a chance from 4-4:45 p.m. for survivors of suicide to offer stories of hope and healing, and a short walk to Marine Park for a luminary lighting ceremony and music from 5-5:30 p.m. This is an international event dedicated to people who have lost family members or friends to suicide, offering support and guidance to help cope with the grief. For more information, contact Megan Gregory at 463-6645 or megan.gregory@searhc.org. In addition, there are similar events scheduled at the Petersburg Volunteer Fire Department (contact Mark Kubo at chooselife@mktek.org) and the Annette Island Service Unit in Metlakatla (contact Sandra Wilson at swilson@aisu.org). Click here to learn more about International Survivors of Suicide Day.

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SEARHC to open new POW optometry clinic on Nov. 19: The SEARHC Prince of Wales Island Eye Care Clinic will open on Monday, Nov. 19, in its new location at the Klawock Mall (6488 Klawock-Hollis Highway, Space 4). The new clinic space is located between the credit union and the post office. SEARHC optometrist Dr. Annelle Maygren, OD, has been working out of the Alicia Roberts Medical Center since this summer, and the new location will allow her to offer a full range of eye-care services. Two new optometry assistants — Vivian Stuart and Chrissy Hayes — have been hired to help Dr. Maygren in the clinic. Once the two assistants are trained, they will be able to help eyeglass frame fitting, a service the POW optometry clinic hasn’t been able to offer in the past unless someone from the Sitka optometry clinic was in town. POW optometry patients can call the Alicia Roberts Medical Center at 755-4800 until Friday, Nov. 16, to schedule appointments. Starting on Monday, Nov. 19, optometry patients can call the new number of 755-4967 to schedule an appointment.

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SEARHC, partners to host Great American Smokeout events on Nov. 15: The Great American Smokeout is Thursday, Nov. 15, and the SEARHC Tobacco Program and some of its partners will host events that day and week to help people quit smoking. This national event encourages smokers to try to quit tobacco for the day, in the hope that if they can quit for a day then they can quit for a lifetime.

  • In Sitka, health educators from the Sitka Tobacco Quit Program and the Sitka School District “Kick It” Program will host an informational booth from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 15, at the AC/Lakeside grocery store. This booth will provide information about the tobacco cessation program, the dangers of secondhand smoke, and details about the Great American Smokeout. Former smokers are encouraged to tell their personal quitting-tobacco stories to Dan Etulain, who will air the interviews on his local television station.
  • In Juneau, the SEARHC Tobacco Program is collaborating with the State of Alaska Division of Retirement and Benefits to host an informational booth during the week of Nov. 13-16 on the eighth floor of the State Office Building. SEARHC Health Educator Rowena Reeves will be at the event from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 15, with former smoker Michael Patterson, to offer cold turkey sandwiches for those individuals quitting tobacco “cold turkey” for the day and to answer any questions. Julie Wilson from the Division of Retirement and Benefits, Carter Semple of Bartlett Regional Hospital and Edy Rodewald of SEARHC also will be available during lunches and breaks (10 a.m. and 3 p.m.) throughout the week to answer questions about the tobacco cessation program offered through the AlaskaCare Employee Health Plan for state employees.
  • In Klawock, the SEARHC Tobacco Program will host an informational display at the Alicia Roberts Medical Center with information about the Great American Smokeout.

The SEARHC Tobacco Program offers tobacco cessation and education services to tribal citizens throughout the region, with expanded services in Sitka through the Sitka Tobacco Quit Program. For more information about the Great American Smokeout and the Sitka Tobacco Quit Program, please call SEARHC Tobacco Policy Coordinator Amanda Roberts at 966-8745. To learn about the SEARHC Tobacco Program, contact Ramon Quevedo in Sitka at 966-8721, Rowena Reeves in Juneau at 364-4440, or Alexis Huot in Klawock at 755-4925. Another resource for support quitting tobacco is Alaska’s Tobacco Quit Program at 1-800-QUIT-NOW.

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Alaska VA to offer Tribal VA Representative (TVR) training Dec. 11-12 in Sitka: Are you a veteran who is interested to learn about VA benefits in order to help other veterans in your community? Are you a TVR who would like additional training? Then, this Tribal Veteran Representative training may be for you. The purpose of this knowledge-based training is to help the attendee understand VA benefits, programs, and services available to Veterans who have served this country. A TVR is an Alaska Native veteran or recognized individual appointed by an Alaska Native community, government, corporation or organization. The understanding is that the TVR is not a VA employee. The TVR is recognized solely as a representative for the Native organization who appoints them and serves as a liaison between the Alaska Native and rural veterans entity that appoints them and the Veterans Administration (VA). The VA, in turn, provides ongoing training on program eligibility requirements, assistance in initiating applications for services, and coordination of placement for direct VA services. The goal is to organize a dependable means of meeting with and communicating about VA programs that could serve the Alaska Native population and rural veterans. Please consider who in your community would be a respected local resource who can devote the necessary time within your community to explain programs and benefits available to Alaska Native veterans. We would like to include at least five new TVRs at the training, so if you know of anyone interested please let them know and have them contact their tribal organization to complete an application. For information, please contact Sharon Strutz-Norton, Rural Health Assistant to Susan Yeager, VA Rural Health Coordinator, at 907-257-5481 or sharon.strutz-norton@va.gov.

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Juneau to host special shingles vaccine clinic for seniors on Dec. 1: The Vaccinate Juneau’s Kids Coalition is holding a special shingles vaccine clinic for seniors, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 1, at the Juneau Senior Center, 895 12th Street. The vaccine is available free of charge for anyone age 60 and older who is uninsured, underinsured (has insurance but it doesn’t cover the shingles vaccine), or covered by Medicare Parts A or B only. Medicaid recipients are not eligible. Anyone interested receiving the vaccine is encouraged to pre-register at the Juneau Senior Center from 12:30-2:30 p.m. daily on Nov. 13-15. Vaccine will be given on a first-come, first-served basis while supplies last. For more information, contact Yvonne Young at 465-3353.

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Application period extended for Southeast Alaska Youth Ambassador Program: Applications for the 2012-13 Southeast Alaska Youth Ambassador Program are still being accepted. SEARHC invites one high school student from each of our 18 tribal communities in Southeast to work with the \"1 is 2 Many\" suicide prevention task force, helping find new ways to prevent suicide. The Youth Ambassador Program was created to bridge the gap between youth and adults, and to give all youth a role and a voice for positive change in their communities. For more information and program applications, go to the SEARHC Behavioral Health/Suicide Prevention program’s web page, or contact Megan Gregory at megan.gregory@searhc.org or 463-6645. Applications will be accepted until each community has youth representation.

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SEARHC Domestic Violence program featured on StopBullying.gov blog: The StopBullying.gov blog on Tuesday, Nov. 6, featured work being done by SEARHC in Haines, Klukwan and Skagway through our Indian Health Service Domestic Violence Prevention Initiative grant. Jackie Mazeikas is SEARHC's health educator with the project, and she wrote the blog item describing the program’s work. The program does regular interviews with the radio station to discuss bullying, holds yearly “Choose Respect” marches, and recently helped with the dedication of a healing pole in Haines.

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Alaska Psychology Internship Consortium earns national accreditation for seven years: SEARHC is a proud member of the Alaska Psychology Internship Consortium, which this week earned an accreditation through 2019 from the American Psychological Association (APA). The Alaska Psychology Internship Consortium receives financial support from the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority and the State of Alaska Division of Behavioral Health to help Alaska grow its own behavioral health providers. The program places psychology interns with several health agencies around the state (including SEARHC) so they have the opportunity to develop their skills while also seeing the need for behavioral health providers in Alaska. Click here to read the press release from the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services.

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Just a reminder …

SEARHC now has a page on Facebook: If you haven’t already done so, please check out SEARHC’s new page on Facebook. This page will provide people with updates about what’s happening around the consortium. This page is new, so it will be adding more content over time. If you’re on Facebook, please like our page so you can keep up on the news at SEARHC.

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Medicare open enrollment is now through Dec. 7: Just a reminder for our patients who are enrolled in Medicare health coverage for seniors, the open enrollment period for the 2013 plan year is open from now until Dec. 7. This is the time when you can sign up for new plans, or change your existing ones. The Medicare website has lots of tools to help seniors look at the costs, levels of coverage, convenience and quality of care they can expect in the different plans so they can make the best selection. Even if you don’t plan to make any changes from your existing coverage plan, it’s always a good idea to review your options to see if there’s one better suited to what you need. The Medicare Plan Finder can help you check the health and drug plan options available in your area. If you still need help comparing plans, you can call the Medicare help line at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). SEARHC employees Judy Mills-Brown (966-8307 or toll-free at 1-888-966-8307) and Nellie Kookesh (966-8814) also can help patients with Medicare questions.

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SEARHC patient advocates serve as customer liaisons: SEARHC has three patient advocate positions in Southeast Alaska — Bryan Whitson (Sitka), Cyndi Reeves (POW), and Debra Graceland (Juneau) — 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). Patients in Juneau, Haines, Skagway, Klukwan and Hoonah should contact Debra Graceland (463-6656). 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

Charles Clement

Just a reminder...