President’s Update for April 23, 2011

In this edition...

In this edition … SEARHC to host koo.eex’ memorial ceremony: SEARHC will host a koo.eex’ memorial ceremony on Friday and Saturday, April 29-30, at SEARHC’s Sitka campus. People will gather at the Litehouse Cafeteria in S’áxt’ Hít Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital starting at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, April 29, and the activities will start at 6:30 p.m. with a blessing ceremony followed by a candlelight vigil on each floor of the hospital led by the Sitka Ministerial Association. On Saturday, April 30, there is a drum ceremony with the Haa Shagoon Drum and Drummers at 9 a.m. in the covered area outside the S’áxt’ Hít Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital emergency room entrance. After a continental breakfast, from 10:30-11:30 a.m. participants will visit the memorial site on John Brown’s Beach (transportation provided). At 11:30 a.m., everyone will gather at the Yei Éek Kwa Néix Kootéeyaa (You Are Going To Get Well Totem) in front of the At Kaník Hít (House From Where Information Is Given) [Old BOQ/Community Health Building] for an opening prayer and tribal welcome from clan leaders. The ceremony then will move inside the At Kaník Hít for prayer, clan sorrow songs, speakers and responses, a recognition of health care providers, a history of the memorial ceremony, a presentation about SEARHC at.óow (valued or sacred possessions), a recognition of those promoted to glory, and finally a joyful celebration with dance groups, dinner and gifts. The koo.eex’ happens every two years and has become a cultural tradition. Everyone is invited to attend. For more information about the koo.eex’, contact Libby Watanabe at 463-6680. Back to top Bartlett Regional Hospital to raise rates for patients: On Monday, April 18, the Bartlett Regional Hospital board of directors voted to increase the rates patients pay by 7.75 percent when the board finalized its budget for fiscal year 2012. The rate increase is expected to increase personnel, prepares the budget for some high-dollar capital projects and anticipates a decrease in the number of patients seen each day. The budget, which the board passed 7-1, was to be reviewed by the Juneau Assembly Finance Committee on Wednesday. We are monitoring this situation, because we have patients who sometimes use Bartlett facilities and this could impact our patients when using Bartlett’s services. Back to top Alaska Primary Care Association honors Dr. David Vastola: The Alaska Primary Care Association will present SEARHC Community Health Care Services Medical Director Dr. David Vastola with the 2011 Sockeye Award during the group’s annual membership meeting. The Sockeye Award is awarded to a clinician who is a resource and advocate for Alaska’s primary care safety net providers, and who, through demonstration of best practices, improves access to primary care in Alaska. Dr. Vastola has been with SEARHC since 1988, when he was hired as a pediatrician at S’áxt’ Hít Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital. In 1994, he became Community Health Care Services Medical Director, where he has supervises medical staff at our clinics outside Sitka and Juneau. He also supervises the SEARHC Air Medical Services program and has been one of the main architects for the Frontier Extended Stay Clinic (FESC) demonstration project and the WISEWOMAN Women’s Health Program. Congratulations, Dr. Vastola! Back to top Federal, state agencies say North Pacific fish not harmed by radiation: State and Federal officials believe North Pacific fish are so unlikely to be contaminated by radiation from the crippled nuclear plant in Japan that there is no reason to test them according to a Sunday article printed in the Anchorage Daily News. Even with dangerous levels of radiation just off the coast from the Fukushima reactor complex, the ocean is so huge and Alaska fisheries are so far away that there is no realistic threat, Food and Drug Administration spokesperson Siobhan DeLancey said. Ron Klein of the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, who heads the state’s food safety program, said the FDA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have demonstrated that Alaskans have no cause for worry, and based on their work he thinks no sampling or monitoring of our fish will be necessary. Back to top FDA gives S’áxt’ Hít Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital mammogram perfect score: On Thursday, April 21, an inspector from the Food and Drug Administration arrived at S’áxt’ Hít Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital to inspect our mammogram equipment as part of the Mammography Quality Standards Act. We passed with a perfect inspection score. Radiology Department Manager Karin Johnson wanted to thank staff members Beth Bradley and Chelsea McLeod for keeping perfect records and quality assurance. Also, Beth spent most of the day sitting with the inspector to answer his questions and make sure he had everything he needed. Back to top Yéil Jeeyáx Raven’s Way program receives grant for Biorka Island project: The Yéil Jeeyáx Raven’s Way adolescent substance abuse treatment program received a $25,000 grant on Thursday, April 21, from the Alaska Mental Health Trust. The grant will be used for the Raven’s Way project on Biorka Island, where the Federal Aviation Administration will be tearing down several older buildings that Raven’s Way has been using as a dining hall, classroom and caretaker’s quarters as part of its lease with the FAA. Until we can rebuild permanent structures to replace the three buildings the FAA is demolishing, we are planning to put three yurts on the island and this grant will fund the first yurt Back to top ANMC replaces MRI machine, upgrades oncology department: The Alaska Native Medical Center recently replaced the state’s oldest MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) machine with a new state-of-the-art model. ANMC also upgraded its oncology department, expanding 2,400 square feet to add six new examination rooms and more support space for staff. ANMC is involved in a massive expansion that includes renovations to its existing facilities, building a new vertical parking garage to be finished in 2013, the construction of a $25 million Healthy Communities Building to be finished in 2012, and eventually constructing a new building to house outpatient services that is the final part of the expansion and will not be finished until 2015. Back to top Wrangell Traditional Foods presents on SEA DAY: The Wrangell Traditional Foods program presented to 112 students and their helpers during SEA Day on Wednesday, April 20, at Wrangell’s Evergreen Elementary School. Since SEARHC Traditional Foods Project Assistant Tammi Meissner was ill, SEARHC Community Resource Program Services employee Virginia Oliver stepped in to make the presentations with the help from Lu Knapp of Johnson O’Malley Indian Education Program and Evergreen Elementary teacher Arlene Wilson. They had cockles (yaaloo.leit), clams (ghaatl’), seaweed (l’aakh.ask’), red seaweed (khaach’), Hudson Bay tea (s’ikshaideen), smoked fish crackers, sea gull eggs and hooligan (saak). All 112 students and their helpers were able to get a taste. The children also sang songs about their food, they told a Raven story, and Virginia had Swedish fish (gummy fish) as a parting gift. Back to top SEARHC hosts women’s health event April 18-20 in Hydaburg: The SEARHC Health Promotion program hosted a WISEWOMAN Women’s Health event on April 18-20 in Hydaburg. The event included a women’s annual screening clinic, which featured breast and cervical health, heart health screening, cholesterol and lab testing, and motivational and lifestyle counseling. The event provided an opportunity for women age 40 or older to come in early to get their annual screening, including a clinical breast exam. All women who plan to have a mobile mammogram this fall in Klawock will need to receive a clinical breast exam prior to scheduling a mammogram. Back to top A myth and fact about tribal health care: The following myth and fact about the tribal health system originally appeared in the April-June 2011 issue of the Mukluk Telegraph, the newsletter for the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium. We will be running a different myth and fact about tribal health care for the next few weeks. More details about myths and facts about tribal health care can be found in the book, “Do Alaska Native People Get Free Health Care? (and other frequently asked questions about Alaska Native issues and cultures),” which is available through the University of Alaska Press, http://www.uaa.alaska.edu/books-of-the-year/year08-09/qna.cfm.
MYTH: Facilities in the Alaska Tribal Health System are funded entirely by the Indian Health Service. FACT: Tribal health facilities receive funding through many sources, including Medicaid, Medicare, third-party payers, private insurers and Alaska Native corporations. The Indian Health Service provides only about half the funds needed for a basic level of prepaid health care.
Back to top Just a Reminder … SEARHC adds 24/7 on-call travel coordinators: Are you a SEARHC patient who needs after-hours help while traveling for a medical appointment? SEARHC now has a 24/7 on-call travel number. A staff person is on call to help you when your flight has been diverted due to weather or you need late-night help with housing. For assistance, call 1-800-916-8566 (toll-free in Alaska) or 1-907-966-8345 in Sitka and follow the prompts for assistance. To help us better help you, please call as soon as you can get to a phone after you know your flight has been changed. Back to top SEARHC hosts 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. Back to top Regards, Roald