SEARHC Board of Directors elects new officers: The SEARHC Board of Directors elected new officers during its quarterly board meeting last week (Oct. 11-12) in Juneau. Frederick Olsen, Jr., of the Organized Village of Kasaan was reelected to his second one-year term as board chair. Jan Hill of the Chilkoot Indian Association (Haines) was chosen as vice-chair (replacing Kimberley Strong of the Chilkat Indian Village/Klukwan). Lavina Brock of the Wrangell Cooperative Association was reelected secretary, and Harriet Silva of the Angoon Community Association was reelected treasurer. SEARHC is a consortium of 18 tribal communities in Southeast Alaska, and each of the member tribal communities has a seat on the board of directors. SEARHC’s priority is to provide high quality health care services in partnership with Native people, and our board members help us maintain strong ties to each of our member communities.
Sitka Health Summit picks three priority projects for 2012-13: Sitka residents want to revitalize the downtown core area, perform a community food assessment for food resiliency, and apply for a Walk Friendly Community award to show how walkable Sitka is as a community. Those were the three community health priorities Sitka residents chose to work on this next year when they met during the Sitka Health Summit’s community planning meeting on Friday, Oct. 12, at Sweetland Hall on the Sheldon Jackson Campus. Sitka residents chose these three projects out of dozens of brain-stormed ideas. Each project will receive assistance with facilitation and $750 of seed money from the summit’s Health Initiatives Fund to start working on meeting the health goals. The Sitka Health Summit also hosted the Sitka Community Health Fair and Neighborhood Block Party on Saturday, Oct. 6, at Sweetland Hall and around the Sheldon Jackson Campus; hosted a lunch-and-learn on “Exercise is Medicine” with Don Lehmann, MD, on Monday, Oct. 8, at Kettleson Memorial Library; and it honored Sitka’s Community Wellness Champions during an awards ceremony on Wednesday, Oct. 10, at the Sheet’ká Kwáan Naa Kahídi. For more information, go to the Sitka Health Summit website.
State, ANTHC team up to assess health needs in Alaska: The State of Alaska Department of Health and Social Services and the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium have partnered to conduct a survey of all Alaskans on their wants, needs and vision for the future of health and health care in Alaska. The project, known as Healthy Alaskans 2020, is designed to provide a framework to improve health for all Alaskans and their communities. Healthy Alaskans 2020 is part of the national Healthy People 2020 project to provide science-based, 10-year national objectives for ambitious yet achievable goals for improving the health of all Americans. The process will consist of a series of surveys to identify a short list of leading health priorities, setting targets for improvement between now and 2020, and listing some evidence-based strategies to help reach those targets. All Alaskans are welcome and encouraged to participate in the process by accessing the Healthy Alaskans 2020 website before Monday, Oct. 22, to take the initial brief 10–15 minute survey. This survey asks participants to rank the importance to them and their communities of different health related topics, such as drug and alcohol abuse, violence, immunizations or suicide prevention. Alaskans also are encouraged to register for the program’s GovDelivery email distribution list to receive updates and notice of other opportunities to stay involved throughout the process.
Safety counts during National Fire Prevention Month in October: The month of October is National Fire Prevention Month, which puts fire prevention and safety in the spotlight. Last year 11 Alaskans lost their lives due to fire, and all but one of them died in a home/residential fire (76 percent of all Alaska fires are in the home/residence, and there have been 18 deaths so far in 2012). Two of the biggest causes of home fires are unsafe heating methods and unattended cooking. As the temperature drops, many Alaskans use space heaters or other means to heat their homes, and these sometimes can lead to fires if safety rules aren’t followed, such as keeping the area around the heater clear of papers and other flammable items. Kitchen fires can happen when people don’t pay attention to their cooking or they leave spilled grease near the burners. Alaskans should make sure they have working smoke/carbon monoxide detectors in their homes with fresh batteries (change them twice a year), and they should have fire extinguishers in the kitchen and other parts of their home. Parents need to teach their children about fire safety and make sure the kids know the family’s fire evacuation plan (where their exits are, where everybody meets, etc.). To learn more about fire safety in Alaska, go to this site from the Alaska Department of Public Safety’s Division of Fire and Life Safety.
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.
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.
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.
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).
Charles Clement SEARHC President/CEO