President’s Update for April 6, 2012

In this edition...

In this edition …

SEARHC to host mental health first aid training in four communities: The SEARHC Behavioral Health/Suicide Prevention Program and Community Family Services Program will host free two-day mental health first aid classes during May in Juneau, Sitka, Klawock/Prince of Wales Island and Kake. The Juneau class is May 8-9 at the Vocational Training and Resource Center auditorium. The Sitka class is May 10-11 at the SEARHC At Kaník Hít Community Health building first-floor conference room. The Klawock class takes place May 24-25 at the Klawock Salvation Army Church. The Kake class is May 28-29 at the Kake Salvation Army Church. Participants will learn about the potential risk factors and warning signs for a variety of mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety/trauma, psychosis and psychotic disorders, eating disorders, substance use/abuse disorders and self-injury. They will learn to appropriate professional, peer, social and self-help resources available to help someone with a mental health problem. They will learn a five-step action plan encompassing the skills; resources and knowledge to assess the situation, to select and implement appropriate interventions, and to help the individual in crisis connect with appropriate professional care. And they will gain an understanding of the prevalence of various mental health disorders in the U.S. and the need for reduced stigma in our communities. These courses are open to all members of the community, young people, families and the general public. If you work in the following fields we encourage you to take this opportunity to attend this training — health workers, state policymakers, employers, faith communities, school personnel, law enforcement, nursing home staff and mental health support staff. Participants who complete the course will earn a mental health first aid certificate from the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare. To register for the training or for more information, please call Kathryn Mathews at 1-907-966-8744 in Sitka. The registration deadline is April 20. To learn more about mental health first aid, go to http://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/.

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SEARHC dietitian to chair national nutrition education committee: SEARHC community dietitian Janai Meyer, RD, LD, CLC, has been elected to chair one of the committees from the Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior (SNEB). Janai, who is based in Ketchikan, will chair the Weight Realities committee for SNEB. In addition to this committee, other SNEB committees deal with sustainable food systems, public health nutrition, nutrition education for children, healthy aging and other topics. Janai also serves as a community dietitian and certified lactation counselor for the SEARHC WIC (Women’s, Infants, Children) supplemental nutrition program, and she works with patients in the SEARHC Diabetes and Prediabetes programs.

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SEARHC honors National Patient Advocacy Week on April 9-15: SEARHC is joining with other health care organizations around the country to honor National Patient Advocacy Week on April 9-15, an event organized by the Society for Healthcare Consumer Advocacy. Patient advocates play an important role in improving a patient’s health care experience. They serve as a liaison between patients, families, the hospital or clinic, and its medical staff. They advocate for patient rights, promote patient satisfaction, serve as a point of contact for organization-wide complaints and grievances, and provide feedback to the organization so it can improve the patient experience. Patient advocates also provide information for the patient regarding services and resources both within and outside the health care organization. SEARHC has three patient advocates in Southeast Alaska — Bryan Whitson (based in Sitka, 966-8860), Ashley Hunt (based in Juneau, 463-6656) and Cyndi Reeves (based in Klawock, 755-4983 office, 965-0040 cell) — 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 (729-3992 main office, or Tammy Philemonoff at 729-3990) who serve patients from around the state receiving care at the Alaska Native Medical Center.

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Two SEARHC employees to be recognized at Honoring Women dinner: Two of the four women who will be recognized during the 15th annual Honoring Women dinner are SEARHC employees. Being honored are SEARHC WISEWOMAN Women’s Health Program Coordinator Nancy Jo Bleier and SEARHC Village Elder Nurse Case Manager Auriella Hughes (the other honorees are Beth Cox and Grace Larsen). Nancy Jo served as Director of Social Services at S’áxt’ Hít Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital for about two decades before recently taking her new job with the WISEWOMAN program. Auriella works with elders living in Angoon and Kake, and before joining SEARHC she was director of Sitka’s Brave Heart Volunteers palliative care organization. The women will be honored by Sitkans Against Family Violence (SAFV) at 6 p.m. on Saturday, April 14, at Harrigan Centennial Hall, when there will be a dinner, silent auction, live music slide show and honoring ceremony.

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SEARHC Health Promotion to host family fun walk April 14 in Angoon: The SEARHC Health Promotion and Diabetes programs will host a short family fun walk starting at 10 a.m. on Saturday, April 14, at the Jessie Norma Jim Health Center in Angoon. The course for this event will be a 1.4-mile loop that starts and ends at the clinic. This walk is to advocate a healthy lifestyle balance to the community, reduce the risk of becoming prediabetic and to help control diabetes. Healthy treats will be available for the walkers. For more information, contact Brandon Ramos at 788-4616.

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SEARHC working to become network provider for federal employee health plans: Earlier this year, tribal health organizations became eligible to participate in the Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB) program. SEARHC will be converting its employee health insurance to the federal program starting in June. As part of this transition, SEARHC has been working with the different FEHB insurance plans to add SEARHC to their lists of preferred network providers. So far we have been accepted for the federal Blue Cross Blue Shield network (in addition to already being part of the Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield network in Alaska and Washington. We are continuing to work with the other federal plans to join their networks. Becoming a network provider not only will benefit SEARHC employees, but it will benefit the many federal employees living or seeking health care services in Southeast Alaska.

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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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Just a reminder …

Spring mobile mammogram van schedule announced: The SEARHC WISEWOMAN Women’s Health Program and Bartlett Regional Hospital have announced the Spring 2012 schedule for the mobile mammogram program. The mobile mammography van will visit Kake on May 1-4, Haines on May 9-22, Angoon on May 24-30, Skagway on June 4-7, Yakutat on June 13-18, and Gustavus on June 22 (no weekend appointments). Women are encouraged to contact their local clinics prior to the scheduled visit because they will need to receive a clinical breast exam before they can get their mammograms. The mobile mammography program is run through a partnership between Bartlett Regional Hospital and the SEARHC WISEWOMAN Women’s Health Program. It makes regular mammography screening services available to women who live in communities where they aren’t available year round. The SEARHC WISEWOMAN Women’s Health Program provides free clinical breast exams, mammograms, Pap tests and cardiovascular screenings for all women ages 40 and older who meet income and insurance guidelines. For more information, contact your local clinic, call the SEARHC WISEWOMAN Women’s Health Program in Sitka at 966-8782 (or 1-888-388-8782, toll-free in Alaska), or send e-mail to askwh@searhc.org. For more information about services available through the SEARHC WISEWOMAN Women’s Health Program, go to http://www.searhc.org/womenshealth/.

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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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Charles Clement SEARHC President/CEO