February 04 2014
PRINCE OF WALES – The Prince of Wales Health Network is a collaborative effort between Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) Alicia Roberts Medical Center, State of Alaska Craig Public Health Center, Community Connections, Alaska Island Community Services (AICS) and PeaceHealth Medical Group Prince of Wales.
The mission of the Prince of Wales Health Network (POWHN) is to build a strong and sustainable network of healthcare organizations collaborating to strengthen the healthcare system on Prince of Wales Island and increase access to quality healthcare for all island residents far into the future.
Photo by Keturah Sadowski: OW Health Network Steering Committee. Pictured left to right: Candace Winkler, Alaska Community Foundation – CEO, Carly Allen, Alaska Island Community Services, Kara McCory, Public Health RN - POW Health Network Immunization Initiative Chair, Joyce Moore, Alicia Roberts Medical Center – Director, Abbie Blackshire, - Community Connections - Deputy Director, Gretchen M. Klein, POW Health Network - Executive Director, Dr. Janice Sheufult, SEARHC Medical Director, Michele Budd, PeaceHealth Vice President of Patient Care. Steering Committee members not pictured: Mark Walker, Alaska Island Community Services - Executive Director, Dr. Patrick Ballard, PeaceHealth Medical Group – Physician, Bess Clark, Community Connections - Executive Director, Dr. Peter Rice, PeaceHealth Medical Group – Physical, Colleen Watson, POW Public Craig Clinic -RN
Since the Network’s inception six years ago, partner agencies have collaboratively addressed several health care issues that are important to the people of POW. Last year the Network launched an immunization initiative that resulted in an improvement in immunization rates of 13 percent in just 9 months. Another successful initiative has been the creation of the POW Behavioral Health Coalition, a committed group of community members and mental health agency staff who meet regularly to discuss and address domestic violence, mental health and substance abuse issues that are facing Prince of Wales Island Communities.
Specialist clinics have increased to the island including clinics for psychiatry, orthopedics, colonoscopy, women’s health, and optometry. On average 15 patients are seen each day during these visiting clinics. So, instead of each patient traveling outside POW to see a specialist, patients may setup an appointment on the island. Not only is that an enormous cost saving measure, but there has also been a 10 to 20 percent increase in patient visits in the participating clinics.
In addition to improvements to healthcare, POW Health Network partners have been able to provide outreach and education to the communities in a number of ways including the distribution of quarterly and monthly updates on visiting clinics, events, and educational opportunities. Other examples of outreach and education by the Network include a Health Resource Guide and Youth Activities Guide, advertising, radio interviews, and increased online connections related to Behavioral Health, Veterans services, Nutrition, Immunization, Chronic Pain Management, and Domestic Violence Prevention.
“I am honored to be part of such an amazing partnership in this region of Alaska,” says Executive Director Gretchen Klein. “Sometimes we just don’t know how to access resources, and through this collaborative effort we’re seeing some extremely positive outcomes.”
Network partners have also provided support for several important health care events on the island including: an Early Education Fair, Continuing Medical Education Training opportunities for community members and providers, health fairs, a marathon, the National Get Outdoors Day Fishing Derby for Kids, the Coffman Cove Seafood Festival and Arts Event, and a Veterans’ Day Celebration.
"The Health Network has been a wonderful opportunity to identify needs and come up with solutions with a global holistic perspective. It has been a rewarding process to be able to address mental and behavioral health needs, social support systems, family wellness, acute and chronic care as well as preventive services with a united front. I am very excited about the great potential we have with this unique network of dedicated and caring health care providers and community members." says Steering Committee Member Colleen Watson RN, PHN.
For the past six years, the POW Health Network has been funded in large part through a generous grant from the Health Resources Administration. That grant will run out as of May 2014 and the Network is looking to the future.
Funding the future of the Network will come in several ways. In addition to thousands of dollars worth of in-kind donations, the five key partners in the Network have also collectively committed to $36,000 in cash funding and $71,000 of in-kind support. PeaceHealth has also agreed to be the Host Organization of the POW Health Network and has established the POW Health Network fund at the Alaska Community Foundation (ACF) to efficiently accomplish this role.
The POW Health Network is also calling on individuals, tribes, and businesses to help the Network continue this extraordinary work by helping to raise the remaining $24,000 necessary to enable the Network to become self-sustaining and continue its work for POW. This can be done with support from the community.
Tax-deductible donations can be directed to the POW Health Network fund at the Alaska Community Foundation at www.alaskacf.org or by mail to ACF, 3201 C Street, Suite 110, Anchorage, Alaska 99503.
For more information and to learn how you can help, visit www.powhealthnetwork.org, contact Gretchen Klein at 617-7635, or contact ACF directly at 907-334-6700.