President’s Update for September 4, 2010

In this edition...

It has been a busy week for us around the consortium. I truly have the greatest job as I get to see our staff in action serving our patients. Late Friday afternoon, I visited our staff at the Alicia Roberts Medical Center in Klawock. As we entered the clinic, our staff was caring for the second and third medevacs of the day. It was impressive to see all the staff coming together to provide emergent health services from the doctors, nurses, midlevels, clinical assistants, laboratory, and office staff to our medevac team. There were many more people working together for our patients including another medevac team, Klawock EMS, and caring family and friends. It also made me think about our Hoonah Health Center and regional behavioral health staff that dropped everything to respond to the recent community crisis. There are several Labor Day activities this weekend across our region. Please join me in thanking the wonderful staff that makes our organization a success. We hope to provide a brief update on activities and events. The report is not meant to be comprehensive of all our activities, but a snapshot of the week. If you have any questions or would like further information, please feel free to give me a call. Patient advocates at S’áxt’ Hít Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital, Ethel Lund Medical Center: Two new patient advocates were hired for S’áxt’ Hít Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital and the Ethel Lund Medical Center. The patient advocates will be customer services liaisons between our patients and our providers as they help ensure our patients receive the highest quality of care possible and improve their satisfaction with that care. Bryan Whitson, who previously worked for SEARHC Travel, is the Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital patient advocate and his office will be by the Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital Chapel on the third floor. Ashley Hunt, who recently received a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Idaho, is the Ethel Lund Medical Center patient advocate and her office will be just off the main lobby across from Travel. Bryan and Ashley both are Alaska Native. We recently approved a third patient advocate position for Prince of Wales Island and the hiring process is just starting. We also will share an Anchorage-based patient advocate with another region as this yet-to-be-hired person helps our patients when they travel to the Alaska Native Medical Center. SEARHC receives grant to expand elder case management program: We recently received a two-year grant from the Indian Health Service so we can develop a system to provide or extend case management to our elder Native patients in Hydaburg and Skagway, with a later expansion to Wrangell and Petersburg. Alicia Roberts Medical Center clinic administrator Donna Miller will supervise the work in Hydaburg, while the Haines Health Center administrator Marcia Scott will supervise the Skagway part of the grant. A part-time case manager will be hired in Hydaburg to serve as a liaison for our elder patients, helping the patients get screenings when they need them, helping them navigate the system (including finding non-SEARHC services such as Medicaid home-based services) and making sure they get the highest quality of care possible. This position is similar to what our current elder care nurse case manager is doing for Angoon and Kake. Yakutat Tlingít Tribe visit: On Monday, we met with the Tribal Council of the Yakutat Tlingít Tribe (YTT) on SEARHC services. We provided an update to the council on current activities, toured the health center and new dental operatories, and received feedback on regional service delivery. The council discussed access to dental, mental health, patient travel, radiology, patient education, and medical care as well as coordination in services with the Alaska Native Medical Center (ANMC). Sitka Tribe of Alaska Health and Social Service Committee visit: On Friday, I met with the Health and Social Service Committee of the Sitka Tribe of Alaska. The committee was conducting a retreat and I presented on the structure of the Alaska Tribal Health System. The presentation focused on the statewide compact, SEARHC’s funding agreement and appendices. The review of the appendices included a description of our non-beneficiary resolution and how it is evaluated using service delivery data each year by the Board of Directors. There was great information from the committee on recommendations for upcoming newsletter articles, needs assessment information, behavioral health services, need for detox and aftercare services, access to medical care services, and patient input. I also provided a preview of some of the FY2011 budgeted program expansions. I appreciate the opportunity to personally meet with the committee. Thanks to our staff members who regularly attend this meeting. SEARHC receives power cost equalization (PCE) adjustment for clinics: We just received word from the state’s power cost equalization (PCE) program that our 2009 application has been approved and we now will receive a retroactive and ongoing PCE adjustment for our remote/rural clinics that qualify. The state’s power cost equalization program provides economic assistance to power customers in rural communities that are not able to connect to the state’s major power networks. The PCE program pays a significant portion of the cost for water, sewer, heat and light in those communities that qualify, and that can mean a major savings in the operational costs of our remote clinics. AeHN evaluates top HIE candidates: This week the Alaska e-Health Network (AeHN) evaluated four of the top health information exchange (HIE) candidates for a statewide service. The HIE will act as an umbrella and bridge different electronic health records (EHRs) across Alaska. As a practical example, the HIE will allow us to communicate information readily with ANMC. The HIE also will be available to other public and private providers in Alaska to join, but only if there is permission and that patients can opt out of the system once implemented. HIE candidates include (in alphabetical order) Axolotl, Medicity, Microsoft, and Orion. In addition to HIE functions, the system will in the future provide secure patient electronic messaging and a personal health record. Crossett Fund grant for dental sensors: We have received $20,000 from the Crossett Fund to help us purchase dental sensors for our clinics in Kake and Angoon. We still need a matching grant to complete this purchase, which has been applied for through the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry’s Healthy Smiles, Healthy Children program. The dental sensors are used to take dental x-rays, which can be used to transmit the images back to Sitka or Juneau through our dental program’s Eaglesoft electronic dental records. Currently, our pediatric dentists have to carry dental sensors with them when they travel to these two villages, and this will allow us to keep the sensors in the clinics so the locally based dental health aides can use them. This will make our traveling dentists’ time more efficient, because the x-rays already can be taken by the DHAs before the dentist arrives in the village. Grant for SEARHC EMS to purchase patient simulators: The Murdoch Foundation has funded us with $175,000 to establish a training program using patient simulators. The simulators can be programmed to perform many human functions and critical conditions, including a patient going into cardiac arrest. The simulators help doctors, nurses, first responders and others learn how to work through different life-threatening situations without putting real patients at risk. The simulators are portable, which will allow them to be used throughout the region in team-focused classes. Once the new training center (based in Sitka) is through its start-up period, we will offer fee-based training sessions to medical teams throughout the region. SEARHC receives new five-year grant to reduce elder falls: The SEARHC Injury Prevention Program on Sept. 1 started a new five-year grant to reduce elder falls. This new grant will start in three communities — Angoon, Kake, and Sitka — and it will expand to other communities later. During this Indian Health Service-funded grant, we will develop baseline data for each community to learn where our elders are falling and why. We also will find community partners, such as senior centers, housing agencies and other groups. Our main focus areas for this program are to help elders with their strength and balance, find out if they have vision problems, check their medications (some can cause dizziness or other balance issues), see if there are environment issues (ice, clutter, loose rugs, grab bars, etc.) and provide education about how to reduce the danger of falling. We recently trained volunteer coaches for these three communities and several others who will teach the WELL-Balanced (Wise Elders Living Longer) program to help elders prevent falls and be more active. To learn more about the new reduce elder falls grant, contact Jennifer Young at 966-8866 or Doug Osborne at 966-8734. Telepharmacy expands at Alicia Roberts Medical Center: Pharmacy is happy to announce a recent upgrade to the telepharmacy at ARMC. Two new automated dispensing machines were installed in the pharmacy at ARMC. The machines were purchased through a USDA Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant. The addition of these machines doubles the medication storage capacity in the pharmacy and will result in improved pharmacy services at ARMC. The telepharmacy has been filling approximately 85-90 percent of all new prescriptions and refills through the telepharmacy at ARMC, with the remainder being filled and sent down from the Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital Pharmacy in Sitka. The addition of these machines will enable pharmacy staff to fill even more of the prescriptions on site. The extra storage capacity will also allow the pharmacy to stock a greater variety of medications and greater quantities of the fast-moving medications. This will provide a greater margin of safety for critical medications during periods when shipments are affected by weather. SEARHC joins community groups to honor National Recovery Month in September: September is National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month, and SEARHC is partnering with several community groups to offer events in Sitka, Juneau, Haines and Prince of Wales Island. The full list of events is quite extensive, but here are a few highlights (a complete list of events has been sent to local media and tribal groups). On Saturdays in Sitka, there is a potluck and talking circle on Sept. 4, a canoe journey, drumming and open mike on Sept. 11, a sobriety walk and open mike on Sept. 18, and a sobriety potlatch celebration on Sept. 25. In Juneau, there is a series of movies about recovery every Wednesday, an art show all month, a recovery poetry jam on Sept. 18 and a SoberFest party on Sept. 24. In Haines on Sept. 25 there will be a potlatch and dance. In Craig on Sept. 25 there will be a sobriety walk, basketball tournament, bicycle rodeo, children’s events and community potluck dinner. Also during the month there will be school presentations on POW. International FASD Awareness Day is Sept. 9: On Thursday, Sept. 9, SEARHC will join other organizations around the state to honor International Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) Awareness Day. In Sitka, Juneau and other communities throughout the state, several restaurants and bars are offering pregnant women non-alcoholic beverages as a way to help them realize that even one drink of alcohol while pregnant can harm their babies. The Sitka FASD Support Group will host a pizza party and dance on Sept. 9 for teens and ’tweens who live with the effects of FASD. On Wednesday, Sept. 8, Sitka behavioral health staff will be interviewed on KCAW-Raven Radio and KIFW-AM about the effects of FASD and how it is a 100-percent preventable disease. We will have an FASD informational table at the Ethel Lund Medical Center, and we have a series of radio public service announcements about FASD airing on public radio stations throughout the region. Also, Gov. Sean Parnell has issued a proclamation about International FASD Awareness Day that discusses FASD’s impacts on Alaska. Regards, Roald