Hydaburg Health Center renamed to honor Alma Cook

August 01 2011

The SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) honored one of its longtime community health practitioners by renaming the Hydaburg Health Center as the Alma Cook Health Center during a ceremony on Friday, July 29. Also during Friday’s ceremony three house posts were unveiled that Hydaburg residents Clarence Peele Jr., Warren Peele and Joe Frisby carved for the clinic. “We are happy to be able to honor Alma by naming our local clinic after her,” SEARHC President/CEO Roald Helgesen said. “SEARHC has a history of naming its community clinics after our health aides as a way to honor all health aides across our region. We want to recognize the contributions these individuals and their families made to our Southeast communities.” One of Southeast Alaska’s first community health aides, Alma started in 1964-65. Alma worked for five years with no pay, usually seeing patients in her own home. She finally started making $192 a month in 1968 when Congress voted to add wages for community health aides/practitioners (CHA/Ps) to the Indian Health Service budget. Alma also was one of the attendees of the first Southeast Alaska Native Board of Health meeting, which took place in December 1968 in Sitka. She was still a member of the Southeast Alaska Native Board of Health when it voted in February 1975 to create SEARHC. Alma was the first Hydaburg Cooperative Association tribal representative to the SEARHC Board of Directors, serving on the board from 1975-76 and again from 2003-06. The week of July 25-30 featured several cultural events in Hydaburg hosted by the Hydaburg Cooperative Association. These included a three-day culture camp, a Haida festival and the raising of two larger totem poles carved as part of the Historic Haida Totem Replication Project. SEARHC held its ceremony to rename the clinic and unveil the three house posts in conjunction with this larger cultural celebration. The three house posts for the newly renovated and expanded Hydaburg clinic are each about six-feet tall. Warren carved a shaman holding a rattle and standing on a box with the SEARHC logo. Clarence (Warren’s brother) carved a raven with three watchmen on top. Joe’s pole features a beaver at the top with a man at his stomach, while underneath are an eagle and a frog by the eagle’s legs.