President’s Update for April 27, 2012

In this edition...

In this edition …

An addendum to our announcement last week on the passing of Isabella Brady: Last week when we noted the passing of Sitka elder Isabella Brady, we forgot to mention that she served on the SEARHC Board of Directors in 1986. In addition to being the current ANS Camp No. 4 president, Isabella held the office for decades (so many years she couldn’t count when someone asked her last year). She also was twice recognized in the Honoring Women dinner hosted by Sitkans Against Family Violence (in 1999 and 2010).

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Juneau services are Saturday for former SEARHC executive director Niles Cesar: Juneau services for former SEARHC executive director Niles Cesar, who briefly served as SEARHC president from 1989-90, will be from 1-3:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 28, at St. Paul's Catholic Church, 9055 Atlin Dr. A reception will follow the services at the Tlingít and Haida Community Center, 3235 Hospital Dr. Food donations will be gladly accepted for the reception. Niles served as SEARHC executive director from 1979-89, during SEARHC’s formative years, and later served 19 years as the Alaska Director for the Bureau of Indian Affairs. He passed away on March 17 in Anchorage.

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SEARHC hosts Community Transformation Grant Conference in Juneau: On April 24-26, the SEARHC Community Transformation Grant program hosted an educational conference at Centennial Hall in Juneau that brought together community, school, tribal and region-wide non-profit leaders. The conference will help community groups prepare applications for the Community Transformation Grant sub-awards funds that SEARHC will award to region-wide organizations poised to implement health policies. Focus areas for the grants include tobacco-free living, nutrition and physical activity, and high quality clinical care for hypertension and high cholesterol. In addition to working with people on the sub-award grant-writing process, the conference also included a day of training on the fundamentals of the policy change process, a half-day of special topic training on tobacco policy and nutrition/physical activity, and a day of training on Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnerships (MAPP). To learn more about the sub-awards process and to request a proposal form (due by June 1), contact Martha Pearson at 966-8783 or martha.pearson@searhc.org.

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Sitka hosts multi-agency mass-casualty disaster drill: On Monday night, April 23, a jetliner with 87 passengers and crew crashed at the Rocky Gutierrez Airport in Sitka, and the city’s emergency and health personnel sprang into action during a multi-agency mass-casualty disaster drill. SEARHC medical staff responded at S’áxt’ Hít Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital and at the airport during the drill, while other staff served on ambulance crews. The scenario featured about half of the victims, played by Mt. Edgecumbe High School students, being scattered about the tarmac with a variety of injuries. The rest of the victims were represented by 40 floating dummies that were dropped into the water off the end of the runway. Medical staff triaged the victims and got them to the airport terminal, where they were stabilized before being transported to the city’s two hospitals. The disaster drill was a joint exercise for the City and Borough of Sitka, Sitka Volunteer Fire Department, Sitka Police Department, U.S. Coast Guard, Sitka Mountain Rescue, Rocky Gutierrez Airport, Transportation Security Agency, Alaska Airlines, Allen Marine, SEARHC and Sitka Community Hospital. Sitka hosts large multi-agency mass-casualty drills about every two years.

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SEARHC behavioral health clinician Beverly Rivard offers Sitka grief support group: SEARHC’s Beverly Rivard, LCSW, MAC, is working with Brave Heart Volunteers to offer a free, confidential grief education and support group from 6-8 p.m. on Mondays at the Sitka Pioneer Home manager’s house. Beverly is a behavioral health clinician with the SEARHC Gunaanastí Bill Brady Healing Center and Déilee Hít Safe Harbor House adult residential substance abuse treatment programs in Sitka. The weekly support group is open to newcomers at any time. For more information, contact Brave Heart Volunteers at 747-4600.

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Save the date for the 100th course celebration for the Gunaanastí Bill Brady Healing Center: Please mark your calendars for 5:30 p.m. on Friday, May 25, when SEARHC will celebrate the 100th course of the Gunaanastí Bill Brady Healing Center adult residential substance abuse treatment program. This event takes place at the Sheet’ká Kwáan Naa Kahídi in Sitka, and the celebration will feature speakers, a dinner, Native dancers, a slideshow and drumming. Over the years, the program has helped more than 1,000 clients get fresh starts on their lives. SEARHC has had a drug and alcohol treatment program since 1978, when it was an outpatient program housed at S’áxt’ Hít Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital. But in 1996 we moved the program out of the hospital and completely reorganized it. The program is named for Bill Brady, whose Tlingít name was Gunaanastí (which means “Wanderer in a Strange Land”) and the man who managed the alcohol treatment program for SEARHC until he retired in 1989 (Bill passed away in 1995). In addition to being a leader in the sobriety movement, Bill also was a longtime leader of the Sitka Cooperative Association (now Sitka Tribe of Alaska) and later became the first chief judge for the Sitka Tribal Court.

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Ethel Lund Village Health Occupations Program (VHOP) completes 2012 session: About a dozen high school students were in Sitka this week, April 24-27, for the annual Ethel Lund Village Health Occupations Program (VHOP). Each year, the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium selects several Southeast-area Native students interested in health careers for VHOP, and the students spend a week at S’áxt’ Hít Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital in Sitka learning about different health careers and educational opportunities. The experience enables students to evaluate their own strengths and decide which jobs might best suit them. This year’s program included job shadowing with local health providers, a Store Outside Your Door presentation from Gary Ferguson of the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, sessions on dental, nursing, a ropes challenge course, True Colors training, yoga and life balance training, and career preparedness.

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SEARHC Behavioral Health Division hosts annual spring training: SEARHC Behavioral Health Division workers from around the region gathered in Sitka this week for their annual spring training. Sessions this year included Gatekeeper suicide prevention/intervention training, an introduction to counseling with Native ways of knowing, seminars on cultural considerations, infusing culture into treatment planning, and a seminar on documentation requirements from the state. This training was for all levels, from community family service worker on up to psychiatrist and psychologist.

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U.S. Supreme Court hears Salazar v. Ramah Navajo case: The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday, April 18, heard arguments on the case Salazar v. Ramah Navajo case. In this case, the federal government hopes to overturn a lower court decision that found in favor of tribes (260 around the country, including 75 in Alaska) and said the Bureau of Indian Affairs didn’t fully fund law enforcement contracts. SEARHC and other tribal health organizations are interested in this case because it also applies to contract support costs from the Indian Health Service. According to SCOTUSBlog.com, this is the plain English issue of the case: “When Congress has authorized Native American tribes to take over federal programs from the government and receive reimbursement, but it has also capped the amount of money that can be spent for costs to administer and support the contracts for those federal programs, must a tribe still be fully reimbursed for its costs, or should the federal government instead divide the available funds among the tribes, even if that means that the tribes will receive less than their full costs?” The Chamber of Commerce of the United States and the National Defense Industrial Association both filed amicus briefs in support of the tribes seeking full funding of these contracts.

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Just a reminder …

SEARHC patient advocates serve as customer liaisons: SEARHC has three patient advocates in Southeast Alaska — Bryan Whitson (Sitka), Ashley Hunt (Juneau) and Cyndi Reeves (POW) — who serve as customer service liaisons between patients and SEARHC, and help patients navigate their way through SEARHC’s health system. Also, the Alaska Native Medical Center provides Anchorage-based patient advocates who serve patients from around the state receiving care at the Alaska Native Medical Center. Patients living in Sitka, Angoon, Kake, Pelican, Tenakee Springs, Yakutat, Petersburg and Wrangell should contact Bryan Whitson at 966-8860. Patients in Juneau, Haines, Skagway, Klukwan and Hoonah should contact Ashley Hunt at 463-6656. Patients in Klawock, Craig, Hydaburg, Kasaan, Thorne Bay and other POW communities should contact Cyndi Reeves at 755-4983 (965-0040, cell). Patients traveling to Anchorage for care should contact the ANMC patient advocates at 729-3990.

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SEARHC hosts summer internship program for Natives: Applications are available for the SEARHC Summer Internship Program, which provides work experience for Alaska Native/American Indian students pursuing careers in health care. The SEARHC Summer Internship Program provides opportunities for six Alaska Native/American Indian students who are studying at the high school, bachelor’s degree and/or master’s degree/clinical level. The program allows participants to explore career options in health care, and the interns receive valuable on-the-job training in their health care career of interest and an hourly stipend. At the end of the program, interns will receive a performance evaluation with valuable feedback from their mentor(s). The application deadline is Friday, May 11 (the application must be received or postmarked by this date), and the final selection of interns takes place on May 21. The internship program runs from June through September 2012. During the program, the interns will work a minimum of 30 hours and a maximum of 40 hours per week under the supervision of a manager at a SEARHC facility. Although an hourly stipend is provided, interns are responsible for their own housing and transportation during the internship program. SEARHC will not provide housing and/or transportation. Completed applications may be mailed to Jessika Beam (966-8903) at SEARHC, c/o Human Resources Department, 222 Tongass Drive, Sitka, AK 99835. Applications also can be faxed to 966-8527, or scanned and e-mailed to jessika.beam@searhc.org. Application packets and additional details are available at Southeast Alaska high school offices, through local tribal organizations or by going to http://searhc.org/students/college_interns.php.

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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/Suicide Prevention Program Manager Wilbur Brown at 966-8753.

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SEARHC provides 24/7 on-call travel coordinators for patients traveling for care: SEARHC has a 24/7 on-call travel coordinator to assist patients needing after-hours help while traveling for a medical appointment. The on-call staff person helps patients find new connections when a plane is diverted by weather, or assists with late-night housing. For assistance, call 1-800-916-8566 (toll-free in Alaska) or 1-907-966-8345 in Sitka, and then follow the prompts. To help us better help you, please call as soon as you know your travel schedule has been changed. For patients needing assistance from the Community Resources Program (contract health), such as emergency health care while traveling, call 1-866-966-8316 (toll-free).

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Charles Clement SEARHC President/CEO