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SEARHC Physicians, Long-Term Care Facilities to Receive ASHNHA Awards

SITKA – Two SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) physicians were announced as recipients of excellence in patient safety awards from the Alaska State Hospital and Nursing Home Association (ASHNHA).  Dr. Lynn Prysunka, Wrangell Medical Center (WMC) Medical Director, has been named the recipient of the 2020 ASHNHA Golden Stethoscope Award, and Mt. Edgecumbe Medical Center Medical Director Dr. David Vastola was recognized as a 2020 Physician Leader Hero.  Sitka Long-Term Care and WMC Long-Term Care facilities were among the 20 Alaskan nursing homes honored with the LTC Frontline Fighters Award.

The Golden Stethoscope is ASHNHA’s highest honor for excellence in patient safety for healthcare providers and will be presented to Dr. Prysunka at their Virtual Annual Conference on September 23.  WMC was able to stay weeks ahead of the ever-changing COVID-19 health mandates due to her guidance.  She was the driving force behind introducing tabletop exercises to increase pandemic preparedness, implementing personal protective equipment fit testing, modifying screening and access to protect the dual-use facility, and leading discussions and planning throughout the community.  In addition, Dr. Prysunka has continued providing Primary Care, Emergency Care, Long-Term Care, Acute Care, and Outpatient Services to residents and visitors of Wrangell.

“For over 20-years, Dr. Prysunka has been providing world-class care to the residents of Wrangell,” said SEARHC Vice President and WMC Hospital Administrator Leatha Merculieff.  “Since the onset of the pandemic, she has played a crucial role in WMC and SEARHC remaining ahead of the curve in COVID-19 response, all while providing patient care.  I could not think of any physician more deserving of the Golden Stethoscope.”

“Dr. Prysunka’s dedication to the patient and community of Wrangell is to be commended,” said ASHNHA CEO Jared Kosin.  “The evaluation committee was impressed with her forward-thinking, compassionate care, and her ability to collaborate on so many levels.”

Dr. Vastola was one of seven doctors statewide to be recognized as a 2020 Physician Leader Hero, which ASHNHA defines as “physicians leading the way to build stronger communities and prevent community spread of illness.”  Vastola has spent his entire professional career providing care for SEARHC in Sitka and, along with Dr. Prysunka, helped guide SEARHC in implementing a local and regional COVID-19 response on top of patient care responsibilities.

ASHNHA is honoring nursing home facilities across the state with the LTC Frontline Fighters Award.   SEARHC Long-Term Care facilities in Sitka and Wrangell are two of 20 skilled nursing homes recognized by ASHNHA for their extraordinary commitment to the safety of residents and co-workers during the pandemic.