President’s Update for Oct. 7, 2011

In this edition...

In this edition …

Federal budget status: This week, Congress adopted and President Obama signed a continuing resolution funding federal operations through Nov. 18. With no federal budget adopted by the start of the federal fiscal year on Oct. 1, SEARHC is covering the costs of the compact until funding is made available. The continuing resolution represents the first seven weeks of the fiscal year. We were informed that Indian Health Service headquarters will be working as fast as possible to allocate the funding to the IHS area offices. The Alaska Area Office is generally quick to distribute funds to the tribes and tribal health organizations when it reaches Alaska. It appears that Congress may be moving toward an omnibus spending package sometime in November. An omnibus bill would combine all appropriation bills into a single document for the remainder of the federal fiscal year (FFY2012).

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Susan Labus hired as chief operating officer: We have hired longtime hospital executive Susan Labus as our new chief operating officer (COO), and she will move to Sitka in early November. Susan recently served as COO at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital in Bermuda (operated by the Bermuda Hospital Board, which has 1,700 employees). She also served as a senior vice president and COO at Pocono Medical Center in Pennsylvania, a 231-bed acute medical center with 1,200 employees, and she was COO with Medical Assisted Recovery, a behavioral health facility in Warwick, R.I. She also held several senior leadership roles with Caritas Christi Health Care in Boston, and leadership roles with Landmark Medical Center in Rhode Island and Catholic Health System and The Buffalo General Hospital in New York. She holds a Master of Science degree in health care administration, and Advanced Graduate Certification in integrated health care delivery systems from the Rochester Institute of Technology. Susan earned a Bachelor of Science degree in medical record administration from Daeman College in Buffalo, N.Y. She is a Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives. We thank everybody for their patience during this selection process. Please help me welcome Susan to SEARHC.

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ANB and ANS Grand Camp: Several SEARHC staff members and programs attended the Alaska Native Brotherhood (ANB) and Alaska Native Sisterhood (ANS) Grand Camp meeting held Oct. 3-8 in Klawock. Rowena Reeves of the SEARHC Tobacco Program and Health Promotion made a presentation, as did Wilbur Brown of the SEARHC Behavioral Health/Suicide Prevention Program. Jessika Beam of the SEARHC-hosted SouthEast Area Health Education Center (SE AHEC) hosted an informational booth about her program. I presented to the delegates our annual report on the operations of SEARHC.

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President and CEO recruitment: This week, the board of directors confirmed a committee to begin the recruitment of the President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) position. The position description and requirements were posted Friday on our website. The President/CEO is responsible for providing strategic leadership for the consortium by working with the board and other management to establish and carry out the goals, strategies, and policies as identified in the strategic plan. For more information on the requirements and how to apply, please go to “Job Hunt” link on our website at http://www.searhc.org/.

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John “J.R.” Myers hired as Haines behavioral health supervisor: The SEARHC Community Family Services Program recently hired John “J.R.” Myers as a licensed professional counselor and regional behavioral health supervisor in Haines. J.R. has a Master of Human Services degree and a Master of Professional Counseling degree, both from the University of Great Falls in Great Falls, Mont. J.R. has worked in Soldotna, Homer and Montana, and he is a former vice president of the Alaska Counseling Association and former president of the Kenai Peninsula Counseling Association. J.R.’s medical interests include trauma and healing, role recovery, strength-based therapy and patient advocacy. He also enjoys art, nature, learning and community involvement.

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SEARHC honors National Healthcare Resource and Materials Management Week: Oct. 2-8 is National Healthcare Resource and Materials Management Week, which honors resource and materials management professionals for their outstanding contributions to health care and the overall success of the supply chain. Each year, an entire week is dedicated to celebrating materials management staff for their contributions of the supply chain within SEARHC. This year’s theme, “Improving Patient Care through Integrated Supply Chain,” reflects the collaborative, multifaceted role of many individuals within the health care network ensuring the availability of high quality materials in a timely manner. National Healthcare Resource and Materials Management Week (MM Week) provides an opportunity for all of us to recognize the integral role supply chain professionals play in delivering high-quality patient care throughout the healthcare industry and within SEARHC. Being an integral support department, we appreciate the efforts and contributions our Material Management staff does for all of us on a daily basis.

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Injury Prevention Program has site visit from ANTHC: Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium injury prevention coordinator Jaylene Wheeler was in Sitka for a site visit Tuesday and Wednesday, Oct. 4-5, to work with the SEARHC Injury Prevention Program. Jaylene also serves as our project officer for the Indian Health Service elder fall prevention grant. On the first day of Jolene’s visit we focused on the first annual report for the elder fall prevention grant and on the second year of planned activities. Jaylene met with Jennifer Young, the elder fall prevention grant coordinator at SEARHC. On the second day, we were joined by Lorena Gray, a health advocate II from Juneau who works on the motor vehicle safety program. Lorena distributes child passenger car seats and works to increase seat belt use in Juneau and the region. We discussed the current SEARHC injury prevention program and future planning activities to reduce injuries.

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SEARHC patient advocates serve as customer liaisons: SEARHC has three patient advocates in Southeast Alaska — Bryan Whitson (Sitka), Ashley Hunt (Juneau) and Cyndi Reeves (POW) — who serve as customer service liaisons between patients and SEARHC, and help patients navigate their way through SEARHC’s health system. SEARHC and the Kodiak Area Native Association (KANA) share an Anchorage-based patient advocate, Pamela Goodwin, who serves SEARHC and KANA patients 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 Juneau, Haines, Skagway, Klukwan and Hoonah should contact Ashley Hunt at 463-6656. Patients in Klawock, Craig, Hydaburg, Kasaan, Thorne Bay and other POW communities should contact Cyndi Reeves at 755-4983 (965-0040, cell). Patients traveling to Anchorage for care should contact Pamela Goodwin at 729-3992 (942-5867, cell).

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SEARHC adds 24/7 on-call travel coordinators: Are you a SEARHC patient who needs after-hours help while traveling for a medical appointment? SEARHC now has a 24/7 on-call travel number. A staff person is on call to help you when your flight has been diverted due to weather or you need late-night help with housing. For assistance, call 1-800-916-8566 (toll-free in Alaska) or 1-907-966-8345 in Sitka and follow the prompts for assistance. To help us better help you, please call as soon as you can get to a phone after you find out your flight has been changed.

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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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Regards, Roald