President’s Update for Oct. 26, 2012

In this edition...

In this edition …

Kids say no to drugs during National Red Ribbon Week: This year National Red Ribbon Week is Tuesday, Oct. 23, through Wednesday, Oct. 31. Red Ribbon Week is a national event, hosted by the National Family Partnership, where kids take the pledge to not use drugs. Red Ribbon Week began after the 1985 murder by torture of DEA Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena. Parents and children started wearing the red ribbon in response to the murder, and the red ribbon is a protest against the killing and destruction caused by drugs in America. The first National Red Ribbon Celebration took place in 1988, and many local schools host special events in support of Red Ribbon Week. To learn more, contact your local schools, contact Rena Wallace of the SEARHC Behavioral Health/Suicide Prevention Program at 966-8755, or go to the Red Ribbon Week website.

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November is National Diabetes Awareness Month: Did you know that Alaska Natives and American Indians have the highest occurrence of Type 2 diabetes amongst all racial and ethnic groups in the United States? Did you know that you can reduce your risk for developing diabetes by lifestyle changes? Do you know your numbers? If you don’t know your blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose numbers, you should ask your provider. If you know your current numbers, have you been told you have pre-diabetes? Did you know you can join the Lifestyle Balance team, and learn how to prevent or prolong the conversion to Type 2 diabetes? Throughout November, SEARHC will be partnering with its beneficiaries to learn about signs and symptoms of diabetes, how to prevent diabetes, and how to manage diabetes if they live with it. If you would like more information about preventing diabetes, please contact Renae Mathson, Health Educator II, at 966-8797. If you would like information on how to control your pre-diabetes, please contact Health Educator II Walleen Whitson in Sitka at 966-8916 or Health Educator II Kathy Dennis in Juneau at 364-4453. If you would like information on how to manage your diabetes, please contact Jennifer Henderson, RN, CDE, in Sitka at 966-8595, Robert Meadows, RN, in Juneau at 463-4040, Julie Sturdevant, RN, CDE, in Klawock at 755-4975, or Lisa Schwartz, RN, CDE, in Haines at 766-6328. You can also learn more information by following us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or Pinterest.

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WISEWOMAN Women’s Health Program helps host Trick or Trot run/walk in Haines: The SEARHC WISEWOMAN Women’s Health Program in Haines helped host the fun, costumed Trick or Trot 5K Run/Walk event on Friday, Oct. 26. The event took place at the Dalton City part of the Southeast Alaska State Fairgrounds in Haines. The entry fee was $10 for adults and free for ages 16 and younger. This event also was hosted by the Haines Well and Fit Community Council and the Southeast Alaska State Fair.

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Alcohol and drug abuse cost Alaska's economy $1.2 billion in 2010: Alcohol and drug abuse took a heavy toll on Alaska's economy in 2010, according to a new report from McDowell Group, funded by the Advisory Board on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, Alaska Mental Health Board, and the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority. The total estimated costs for 2010 attributable to alcohol and drug abuse was $1.2 billion. Costs by category include:

  • $673.2 million in productivity losses,
  • $50.5 million in traffic crash costs,
  • $217.7 million in criminal justice and protective services,
  • $237.3 million in health care, and
  • $13.2 million in public assistance and social services.

An estimated 21,000 Alaskans age 12 and older are dependent upon alcohol, according to the 2011 Alaska Scorecard. Of the estimated 16,951 Alaskan adults experiencing serious substance use disorders (abuse of drugs and alcohol), 42.8% are low-income. The State of Alaska spent over $35 million in 2010 to provide substance abuse treatment and recovery services to low-income Alaskans. An additional $11 million supported community substance abuse prevention programs in 2010. In 2012, $9 million in one-time capital funds was approved for substance abuse treatment and prevention services over the next three years. McDowell Group did this 2012 update of 2009 data using new data when available as well as statistical estimation techniques. The report explores the economic impact of substance abuse on businesses and employers, public safety, and social services from all populations, not just low-income populations. The report does not attempt to quantify the substantial intangible emotional costs to Alaskan families and communities caused by substance abuse. Click here to read the report in its entirety. The Alaska Scorecard is available here. Don’t forget the SEARHC Behavioral Health Division can help people dealing with substance abuse issues. We have counseling available through our behavioral health clinics, and we also offer three substance abuse treatment programs — Yéil Jeeyáx Raven’s Way for adolescents from Alaska, Gunaanastí Bill Brady Healing Center for Native adults and Déilee Hít Safe Harbor House for women.

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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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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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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...