President’s Update for Oct. 30, 2010

In this edition...

This week’s update includes info on record patient encounters, a study validates DHAT dental care, Hoonah’s one-year anniversary and more... SEARHC delivers more health: We are excited to report that preliminary numbers show FY2010 was a record year for patient encounters at SEARHC. We had 190,547 patient encounters at all of our clinics, easily breaking the previous record of 181,085 patient encounters in FY2007. We had 178,326 patient encounters in FY2009, 173,449 in FY2008, 173,526 in FY2006 and 160,596 in FY2005. This year’s numbers are preliminary, since we still have one more tabulation to do, but overall we expect the numbers to stay pretty close to what is listed. Dental Health Aide Therapist study validates care: This week RTI International released a two-year, intensive study of Dental Health Aide Therapists (DHATs) working in rural Alaska, and the finding was that DHATs are providing safe, competent and appropriate care. This is the first major independent evaluation of the Alaska dental therapist program. We are very pleased to have these researchers concur with our belief that DHATs are doing excellent work and filling a critical need for dental care in rural Alaska. SEARHC has two DHATs on staff — Brian James in Sitka and Dan Kennedy in Klawock — and the dental therapist program originated after SEARHC Director of Dental Services Dr. Tom Bornstein, DDS, wrote a 2000 white paper about an emerging dental crisis in rural Alaska and then suggested a program of dental therapists to provide basic care in rural areas that can’t support a dentist. The W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Rasmuson Foundation and the Bethel Community Services Foundation funded the study, which can be found online at http://www.wkkf.org/news/Articles/2010/10/Alaska-Dental-Therapist-Program-Study.aspx. Hoonah one-year anniversary: On Tuesday, Oct. 26, SEARHC and the Hoonah Indian Association hosted a community celebration for SEARHC’s first year of managing the Hoonah Health Center. The meeting featured an update to the community on our 4-year plan including how we have met the first year objectives. Staff presented division-specific information, with reports from Melody Price-Yonts (behavioral health), Dr. David Vastola (medical and health promotion), Dr. Reeve Newton (dental). Shawn Sorenson provided an update on a new clinic in the community. This work included the presentation of a conceptual design for community comment. Earlier on Tuesday, Dr. Vastola, Dr. Elliot Bruhl and Steve Gage led a staff retreat to discuss clinic operations. There also was a meeting with HIA, and the Mt. Fairweather Dancers provided dinner and entertainment. Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN) convention held in Fairbanks: AFN was held in Fairbanks last week, with the Elders and Youth Conference on Oct. 18-20 and the full convention from Oct. 21-23. The convention theme this year was “Village Survival!,” with key issues discussed being customary and traditional foods (aka subsistence), suicide prevention and health and wellness. Former Central Council of Tlingít and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska President Bill Martin participated in the Health and Wellness panel and provided an overview of the work he's done with the Juneau Community Suicide Prevention Task Force, SEARHC's “1 is 2 Many” team (aka the Southeast Alaska Regional Suicide Prevention Task Force), and the Tlingít and Haida Alaska Native Youth Coalition. Team members and SEARHC staff on hand were Sheryl McAllister and Libby Watanabe. Libby Watanabe discussed SEARHC's unmet financial and project needs with Sen. Mark Begich, who provided meaningful staff contacts to follow up on those issues. Dr. Robert Thomas returns to Alicia Roberts Medical Center staff: Dr. Robert C. “Bob” Thomas has been hired as a family physician at the Alicia Roberts Medical Center starting on Nov. 15. Dr. Thomas is returning to the ARMC staff, where he worked in 2007 before going to the Craig Clinic for the past three years. He also has worked in private practice in Juneau, at Sitka Community Hospital, and he was a flight surgeon in the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard. Dr. Thomas earned his medical degree from the West Virginia University School of Medicine in Morgantown, W.V., and completed a residency in family practice in Daytona Beach, Fla. While working in Daytona Beach he won the 1990 Quality Health Care Giver of the Year Award and the 1996 Most Compassionate Physician Award. He is certified by the American Board of Family Medicine. Veterans Administration ribbon-cutting ceremony in Juneau: The Veterans Administration conducted a ribbon cutting ceremony at its new Juneau VA Outreach Clinic on Saturday, Oct. 23. SEARHC was invited to this ceremony, and mentioned in the key remarks provided by Alaska VA Healthcare System Director Alex Specter. Mr. Specter expressed the goal of working with SEARHC to provide health care for tribal veterans in Southeast Alaska. Former ANB Grand President Willard Jackson also was in attendance and a participant in the ribbon-cutting portion of the ceremony. Other SEARHC attendees were President Emeritus Ethel Lund and Libby Watanabe. SEARHC is partnering with VA to register eligible veterans in Southeast Alaska. Cecilia Frank (364-4465) is coordinating VA enrollment for SEARHC patients in Juneau, Judy Mills (966-8307) is coordinating enrollment in Sitka, and Nellie Kookesh (966-8814) is coordinating enrollment for patients who live in our other SEARHC communities. Flu vaccine supply: Flu vaccine supplies ran very low this past week as our main supplier (the State of Alaska) ran out of flu vaccine and does not anticipate ordering any more. We were able to find more vaccine from secondary suppliers, and we had enough on hand to host a special seasonal flu vaccination clinic on Oct. 28-29 at S’áxt’ Hít Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital for patients considered high risk for flu-related complications by the CDC. We have more vaccine on order, with some earmarked for the village clinics, and that should be in within the next week or two. With the use of other suppliers due to the lack of State supply, we have to charge fees of $42.59 for our non-Native patients (this includes vaccine cost and administration fee). Also, as of Jan. 1, 2011, the State of Alaska will no longer supply clinics with adult vaccines. We will have to develop some secondary suppliers to make sure we have vaccine in future years. Native American Heritage Month takes place in November: November is Native American Heritage Month, and several tribes and communities have celebrations planned. The Sealaska Heritage Institute will host weekly Native culture lectures during November in Juneau. There will be dance performances and a Native artist market on Friday, Nov. 5, at Juneau-Douglas High School (go to http://www.sealaskaheritage.org/news/news_article_nov_lecture_series_2010.htm for details). Sitka Tribe of Alaska also has a full month of activities, including a film festival, food drives, scholarship contests, radio interviews, dancing, drumming and more. The schedule includes the annual parade on Saturday, Nov. 20. The SEARHC Health Promotion and Diabetes Prevention programs will host a diabetes screening Nov. 20 at the Sheet’ka Kwáan Naa Kahídi, 200 Katlian (contact Walleen Whitson, 966-8916, for info on the diabetes screening). Sitka residents should watch for a full events calendar in the Daily Sitka Sentinel. To learn more about Native American Heritage Month, go to http://nativeamericanheritagemonth.gov/. Special diabetes clinics on Prince of Wales: November is American Diabetes Month (and National Diabetes Awareness Month). SEARHC will offer multi-specialty diabetes clinics on Prince of Wales Island in November. Dr. Peggy Englebrake from the Alicia Roberts Medical Center will team up with diabetes nurse Julie Sturtevant and dietitian Janai Meyer to offer these special diabetes clinics. The trio will be at the Alicia Roberts Medical Center on Tuesday, Nov. 16, and Thursday, Nov. 18. They also will be at the Hydaburg Health Center on Wednesday, Nov. 17. For appointments, contact the Alicia Roberts Medical Center at 755-4800 or the Hydaburg Health Center at 285-3462. Watch for information at your local clinic because there will be other diabetes-related events scheduled in November, including World Diabetes Day on Sunday, Nov. 14. Great American Smokeout is Nov. 18: The American Cancer Society’s 35th annual Great American Smokeout is Thursday, Nov. 18, making it the perfect time for smokers who want to quit tobacco to try quitting. The 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 to host a couple of tables at Sea Mart. 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. Regards, Roald