President’s Update for November 13, 2010

In this edition...

This week's update has info on pain management planning, new x-ray equipment, a suicide prevention event and more...Pain management group meets: SEARHC is working to develop a consortium-wide process to assist patients with chronic pain so they can have an increased quality of life. Managing pain medications has become a nationwide issue due to the strength of medications, side effects, and that some medications, especially certain high-value opioids, can end up being sold on the street.  A group of providers and administrators held its second meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 10, to continue the effort at better patient information and to do our part to educate patients about the uses and cautions for such strong medications.  The group is focusing in four areas — patient/community education, staff process/education, medical standards of care, and the role of the steering and clinic committees. The outcomes of this work will be a draft of a consortium-wide pain management plan that will use national guidelines from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes for Health (NIH) as models. The plan may involve setting policy for how certain medicines are prescribed and developing pain medicine agreements with patients that detail use of some of the strong pain medicines. Back to top   New x-ray equipment up and running at Hoonah Health Center: We have a new digital x-ray machine in Hoonah. This machine can take images of most extremities and some chest x-rays. The new machine allows patients to receive x-rays in their own community without having to go to Juneau or Sitka. Back to top   SEARHC hosts planning meeting for New Year’s Eve suicide prevention event in Sitka: SEARHC Behavioral Health/Suicide Prevention program will host a community meeting at noon on Friday, Nov. 19, at the conference rooms in S’áxt’ Hít – Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital. The purpose of the meeting is to plan a New Year’s Eve event to raise awareness about the impacts suicide has on a community. One idea is to host a “hands across the bridge” event where people line up on the O’Connell Bridge and hold candles to represent family and friends lost to suicide. For more information, contact Wilbur Brown at 966-8753. Back to top   SEARHC programs make site visits to Kake: Several SEARHC programs made site visits to Kake the first week of November. Elder Nurse Case Manager Auriella Hughes went to Kake to work with home health monitors (aka “turtles”) that elders receive through the Alaska Federal Health Care Partnership.  The turtle tracks our patient’s daily vital signs and sends the data to their medical providers by computer. Auriella also checked on the feasibility of getting help or lifeline buttons in elder homes in Kake.  She will continue to pursue this project. Pharmacist Jenalyn Greenwood met with elders, especially those who receive a lot of different medications, and provided one-to-one medication counseling and reconciled all their prescriptions to make sure they would not create bad reactions or cause other problems. Health Educator Jennifer Young, who works with Injury Prevention, visited 16 elder homes with Environmental Health Director Jim Claire and Environmental Health Tech Andrew Atkinson. Jennifer checked the houses for elder fall risks and also made lists of any durable medical equipment the elders might need. Jim and Andrew checked the houses out for environmental risks, such as moisture, mold, water leaks, indoor air quality, ventilation, heating, insulation and weatherization. Jennifer, Jim and Andrew will work with the elders to find funding so they can correct any problems found during their home inspections. Back to top   CMS surveys S’áxt’ Hít – Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital: Three surveyors from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services were in Sitka this week performing a four-day unannounced validation survey of S’áxt’ Hít – Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital. The three surveyors were Ginger Beal, Angela Rick and Joan Green. While they did make a few comments about storage, expiration dates, log books, advance directives and other items, the three surveyors said that overall there was great patient care at the hospital. Thanks to all the staff that helped with this survey. Back to top   Colorectal cancer visit: This week, SEARHC Colorectal Cancer Screening Program team welcomed our funding project officers, program director Dr. Ellen Provost and program manager Diana Redwood of the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC) and the Alaska Native Epidemiology Center, to Sitka for a site visit. During the visit, Ellen and Diana met with WISEWOMAN Women’s Health/Colorectal Cancer program staff; Sitka-based medical directors Dr. David Vastola and Dr. Marty Grasmeder; the surgery clinic team and surgeon Dr. William Beutel; the referral care coordinator staff; toured the operating room, “scope room” (colonoscopy room); and the rest of the Sitka campus. We also piloted an informative community presentation on colorectal cancer, a “Reader’s Theater” script called “What’s the Big Deal?” We are in the second year of a five-year funded project and are now fully staffed, with a colorectal cancer nurse case manager, colorectal cancer patient navigator, health systems specialist, and other support through the integrated WISEWOMAN Women’s Health/Colorectal Cancer program team. Back to top   Daphne Demmert retiring at Angoon: Longtime Community Health Practitioner (CHP) Daphne Demmert of Angoon is retiring after 17 years with SEARHC. There was  a reception for her from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Jessie Norma Jim Health Center in Angoon. In addition to her long service to the people of Angoon, in May 2003 Daphne earned her CHP certification and her Associate of Applied Science degree in community health from the University of Alaska Fairbanks – Kuskokwim Campus.  We thank Daphne for many years of dedicated service to the community of Angoon and SEARHC. Back to top   Safety whistle to trigger rescue: We recently heard a lost hunter used a safety whistle obtained from the SEARHC Injury Prevention program to attract a rescue party. The hunter became disoriented and spent an unexpected night lost in the woods. He tried to use his rifle to attract help, but ran out of ammunition. He had with him one of the safety whistles SEARHC Injury Prevention is giving out to boaters (to clip onto their personal flotation devices) or hikers (for bear protection).  He used the whistle to finally attract help. Lesa Way with the SEARHC Injury Prevention program has more whistles available. Just call 966-8804 to have her send you one. Back to top   Great American Smokeout is Nov. 18: The American Cancer Society’s 35th annual Great American Smokeout is Thursday, Nov. 18th. Our SEARHC Tobacco Program, which has offices in Sitka, Juneau and Klawock, will offer a variety of activities during the Great American Smokeout to help support those tobacco users who want to quit. Our Sitka tobacco staff will partner with the Sitka School District’s “Kick It” tobacco program and Sitka Community Hospital to host a couple of tables from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at AC-Lakeside Grocery (location change from what previously was reported). Rowena Reeves from our Juneau Tobacco office will host an informational table at the Ethel Lund Medical Center. There will be additional tobacco information available at all of our clinics. To learn more about SEARHC’s Tobacco Quit services available in all SEARHC communities, call our toll-free SEARHC Tobacco Quit Line at 1-888-966-8875, or call 966-8721 in Sitka. Back to top   Regards, Roald