President’s Update for April 17, 2010

In this edition...

Board hears about changes to Quyana House: Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC) Board Chair Andy Teuber spoke with our Board of Directors during its meeting on April 8-9 in Sitka. Mr. Teuber spoke to the Board about recent progress to update the Quyana House facility (56 rooms, 108 beds) at the Alaska Native Medical Center (ANMC) and the purchase overflow hotel rooms in Anchorage. Some of the upgrades include purchasing new furniture and installing carpet, redesigning the lobby to open up the area and create a hotel-style check-in desk, uniforms for check-in staff, cleaning resident rooms three times a week instead of only at checkout, and upgrading the room reservation software. To expand capacity and access, ANMC plans to reserve six beds just for elders to improve elder access, investigate the pros and cons of building or purchasing a hotel, working with nearby hotels to contract a room block, and checking with Alaska Regional Hospital and other groups to find out their interest in joint-contracting to increase the number of rooms available. Another proposal will add 14 rooms to Quyana House. We will keep you updated as we hear improvements planned for our patients traveling to ANMC in Anchorage. SEARHC Board resolution honoring Dr. Tom Bornstein, DDS: During the SEARHC Board meeting, the Board adopted a resolution to honor longtime SEARHC Director of Dental Services Dr. Tom Bornstein. Dr. Bornstein has been with SEARHC since 1984 and Director of Dental Services since 1986. Dr. Bornstein is the person who wrote the concept paper outlining the unmet dental needs of our people and suggesting the creation of the Alaska Tribal Health System’s Dental Health Aide Therapist (DHAT) program. This system is modeled after similar programs in more than 40 other countries. Even though the DHAT program met strong resistance from the American Dental Association, Alaska Dental Society and Alaska Dental Board, the program has been a success and has helped place numerous qualified Alaska Native DHATs around the state including three in Southeast Alaska. With the resolution, the Board expressed its gratitude to Dr. Bornstein for his work and commitment to improving dental care to the Native people of Southeast Alaska. Háw’aa and Gunalchéesh for your dedication, Dr. Bornstein. SEARHC Injury Prevention featured in national TIPCAP newsletter: The SEARHC Injury Prevention program was featured in the March 2010 quarterly issue of the Indian Health Service’s Tribal Injury Prevention Cooperative Agreements Program (TIPCAP) newsletter for its Sitka Bicycle Safety Project. This is a project that grew out of the 2007 Sitka Health Summit, and many of the SEARHC Injury Prevention program’s efforts were key in Sitka in May 2008 becoming the first Alaska community to earn a Bicycle Friendly Community designation from the League of American Bicyclists. The project includes providing education to community, tribal, school, business and other groups about safe bicycling and driving practices. Staff members also perform annual surveys to chart improvement in areas such as visible front and bike lights, reducing wrong-way riding and other safety issues. SEARHC hosts diabetes training and conference in Juneau: The SEARHC Diabetes and Lifestyle Balance prediabetes programs hosted two days of training April 12-13 in Juneau, followed by a one-day diabetes conference on Wednesday, April 14, that was attended by SEARHC executives, medical providers, diabetes educators, dietitians and other diabetes care providers, tribal council officers, and people with a diagnosis or high-risk warnings for diabetes or prediabetes. The conference featured presentations on the “ABCs of Diabetes” by Dr. Julien Naylor, “Stress and Nutrition” by Brian Luke Seaward, PhD, “Emotional Freedom Technique” (for reducing stress) by David Kanosh, “Motivational Interviewing” by Dr. Seaward, and “The Future of Diabetes Care and Prevention” by Dr. Naylor. There also was time to share stories about diabetes care and prevention. In conjunction with the conference, Dr. Seaward also provided a community presentation on “A Good Night’s Sleep: Sleep and Insomnia,” and he showed his movie, “Earth Songs: Mountains, Water and the Healing Power of Nature.” Construction project at Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital gets underway: You may have noticed the scaffolding and construction equipment at Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital now that McGraw’s Custom Construction on April 6 began work on our hospital’s siding and window project. This project involves demolishing the old siding and adding new siding, window installation and new roofing over the main tower of the hospital. New roofing also will be installed over radiology and the kitchen. This year-long project will affect all four sides of the hospital’s main tower, starting at the north end of the building. Besides replacing materials that are wearing out and at the end of their useful lives, this project will make our hospital more energy efficient so we will save on future energy costs. Please watch for barricades and safety signs that might block some sidewalks and entrances. It’s not too late to participate in the 2010 U.S. Census: Even though the deadline for submitting 2010 U.S. Census forms by mail passed on Friday, April 16, it still is possible to participate in the census. Census takers will be visiting Southeast communities in April and May, and we encourage you to participate when the census workers knock on your door. The census is very important for SEARHC and other tribal organizations. We encourage everybody to participate in the census since much of our federal and state funding is tied into formulas that use census population data. American Indians and Alaska Natives historically have the highest rates of undercounting, and not being counted can mean we lose funding for tribal health, social service, education, housing and other programs. This year’s 10-question census form is the shortest since 1790, but one new feature is being able to identify your tribal enrollment. For more information about how the census matters, go to http://www.searhc.org/2010census/ or http://www.2010census.gov/. You also can call the 2010 U.S. Census toll-free hotline at 1-866-872-6868. SEARHC wins Sitka Green Business Award: On Thursday, April 15, the Sitka Global Warming Group honored SEARHC and 31 other organizations with 2010 Sitka Green Business Awards. Sitka businesses were nominated for following one or more green practices from a list of more than 30, and there were four tiers (Platinum, Gold, Silver, Bronze) depending on how many green practices the business was recognized as following. SEARHC earned a Silver Level award (4-6 green practices). In reviewing the list, SEARHC easily can move up to the Platinum Level (10 or more green practices) by the time next year’s awards are announced. We already are doing more than 10 of the listed green practices. Many of our efforts have been led by the SEARHC Green Team, which has the mission “To promote environmental sustainability and wellness in the SEARHC community through education and policy change” and the vision “As stewards of the environment, build an organizational culture to advocate, support and take responsibility for creating a more sustainable SEARHC.” The SEARHC Green Team and Employee Wellness Team are partnering to promote several Earth Week activities during April 19-23 (Earth Day is April 22), and also to sponsor the month-long Green Planet Wellness program (April 22-May 21) where employees earn points for completing healthy and green actions each day in five categories — home, exercise, nutrition, work and miscellaneous. Reminder... SEARHC launches new 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 Prevention Program Director Wilbur Brown at 966-8753. Again, the SEARHC Help Line number is 1-877-294-0074. Regards, Roald