President’s Update for Aug. 6, 2011

In this edition...

In this edition … New audiologist hired at S’áxt’ Hít Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital: Somerset M. Dunn, Au.D., CCC-A, has been hired as an audiologist based at S’áxt’ Hít Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital. She is SEARHC’s first staff audiologist in about five years. She comes to SEARHC from Colorado, where she worked in a six-physician otolaryngology (ear, nose, throat) practice that included four audiologists. Somerset performed comprehensive hearing evaluations, hearing aid fittings, vestibular testing (balance tests on the inner ear) and evoked potential testing (a test for how long it takes a nerve to respond to stimulation) on primarily adult patients. Somerset holds a Doctorate of Audiology from the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, and she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with majors in psychology and speech, language and hearing sciences. Somerset holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence in Audiology (CCC-A) credential from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and she is a Fellow of the American Academy of Audiology (F-AAA). Back to top SEARHC adds Kathleen Wescott to Klawock behavioral health staff: Kathleen H. Wescott joins SEARHC as a behavioral health clinician at the Alicia Roberts Medical Center in Klawock. Kathleen holds a Master of Arts degree in marriage and family therapy from the University of San Diego. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in recreation therapy and public administration from San Diego State University. She worked as a clinical intern with the Veterans Administration Health Care Family Mental Health Clinic in La Jolla, Calif., and as a clinical intern with the Wellness and Vocational Enrichment Clinic (WAVE program) and with the Family Mental Health Clinic with VA San Diego Health Care. She also has been a volunteer coordinator with San Diego Hospice and Palliative Care, spent 15 years as community social services director with the American Red Cross in San Diego, and was director of education and family services at the Parkinson’s Association of San Diego. Kathleen won a TWIN (Tribute to Women and Industry) Women Who Mean Business Award in 2003 from the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, and she also won an American Red Cross Manager/Leadership Award. She has a particular interest in working with individuals with dual diagnosis, alcohol and substance abuse and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) veterans and couples/families. Back to top ANHB/ATHD meeting: The Alaska Native Health Board (ANHB) and the Alaska Tribal Health Directors (ATHD) met this last week in Anchorage. Each August the ANHB and ATHD hold the regular quarterly business meetings and a special meeting with federal partners on health issues of state and national interest. The meetings included congressional briefing from Sen. Lisa Murkowski and staff from the offices of Rep. Don Young and Sen. Mark Begich. There were updates on the Alaska Native Medical Center’s efforts at improving access and referrals as well as an update from the Veterans Affairs focusing on health delivery for tribal veterans across the state. Dr. Kenneth Glifort spoke for the Alaska Area Native Health Service and Susan Johnson provided the Region X Department of Health and Human Service update. The meetings began with a consultation on services from the IHS Office of Information Technology. Discussions with federal partners included the uncertainty of federal funding for IHS services. During ATHD regional reports, the Bristol Bay Area Native Health Corporation and Maniilaq Association gave updates on their recent reductions in staff due to lower federal funds and slowdowns in funding because of the numerous continuing resolutions in 2011. There was general discussion by members about how each region managed the difficult federal budget including the reductions in total funding and cash flow concerns from the continuing resolutions. The Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation reported it experienced its second best year in operations. Back to top SEARHC performs first laparoscopic assisted vaginal hysterectomy: On Friday, July 29, Dr. Donna Smith performed SEARHC’s first laparoscopic assisted vaginal hysterectomy at the S’áxt’ Hít Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital. A laparoscopic assisted vaginal hysterectomy (LAHV) is less invasive than a typical hysterectomy, which left women with big scars, required a hospital stay of 4-6 days and kept them from returning to work for about six weeks. A LAHV uses a small telescopic device called a laparoscope, which is inserted through a small incision and provides a light so the surgeon can see inside the abdomen to cut ligaments holding the uterus before it is removed through the vagina. Because an LAHV uses a smaller incision, women have short or no hospital stays, have less post-operative pain, smaller scars and a quick return to normal activity. Back to top KANA hires new patient advocate to work with KANA, SEARHC patients in Anchorage: The Kodiak Area Native Association (KANA) recently hired Pam Goodwin to be the Anchorage-based patient advocate working with KANA and SEARHC patients seeking treatment at the Alaska Native Medical Center (ANMC). Pam will be at the ANMC Customer Service department, across from the cafeteria, and her office phone number will be 729-3992 (942-5867 cell). This is a shared patient advocate for KANA and SEARHC, but Pam will be under the supervision of KANA. Pam is a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) who also has worked in the health care field as a receptionist, medical office manager and phlebotomist. She has resided in Anchorage for more than 30 years and has a positive work history of working with the public and patients. Pam joins SEARHC’s three patient advocates based in Southeast Alaska. Bryan Whitson (966-8850) is based in Sitka and helps patients from Sitka, Angoon, Kake, Pelican, Tenakee, Yakutat, Petersburg and Wrangell. Ashley Hunt (463-6656) is based in Juneau and helps patients from Juneau, Haines, Skagway, Klukwan and Hoonah. Cyndi Reeves (755-4983) is based in Klawock and helps patients in Klawock, Craig, Hydaburg, Kasaan and Thorne Bay. The patient advocates serve as customer service liaisons for patients, their families and SEARHC. The goal of the patient advocates is to ensure that every patient receives the highest quality of health care and that patients are satisfied with the services they receive. Back to top HRSA officials visit SEARHC facilities in Southeast Alaska: Last week, two officials from the U.S. Health Resource and Services Administration (HRSA) Office of Rural Health Policy visited the Frontier Extended Stay Clinic (FESC) sites in Klawock and Haines. SEARHC staff in Haines and Klawock hosted the visits. The project officer from our HRSA 330 (community health center) grant also visited Southeast Alaska, joining the others in Haines, visiting Front Street Clinic in Juneau and spending a day in Sitka. The purpose of the visits was to learn more about the depth and breadth of SEARHC services in those communities. Annually the two programs contribute about $5.5 million to SEARHC to help fund the FESC program in Haines and Klawock, and to supplement operational funds and the sliding fee discount in the 11 community health center sites (Klawock, Hydaburg, Thorne Bay, Kasaan, Kake, Angoon, Tenakee Springs, Pelican, Front Street Clinic, Haines, and Klukwan). Back to top SEARHC receives youth suicide prevention grant: SEARHC recently received word that it had been awarded a three-year, $480,000-per-year grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) state and tribal youth suicide prevention grants program. With the grant, the SEARHC Tribal Youth Suicide Prevention program will implement regional prevention and early intervention strategies and culturally respectful activities through collaboration with community and tribally based organizations and oriented toward strengthening the youth, families and communities in Southeast Alaska. The program will increase awareness and discussion among youth, families and community members about the risks of suicide. It will promote the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and SEARHC Help Line through media and social marketing campaigns. It will increase the number of people in youth-serving organizations (such as schools, foster care systems, juvenile justice programs, etc.) trained to identify and refer youth at risk for suicide. It also will increase the number of SEARHC medical, behavioral health, dental, optical and substance abuse treatment divisions that are trained to assess and treat or refer youth at risk for suicide. Back to top National Health Center Week is Aug. 7-13: National Health Center Week is Aug. 7-13 and this year the theme is “Celebrating America’s Health Centers: Serving Locally, Leading Nationally.” Each year the second week in August is dedicated to recognizing the service and contributions of community, migrant, homeless and public housing health centers in providing access to affordable, high-quality, cost-effective health care to medically vulnerable and underserved people in the United States. This year’s celebration honors the 45-year record of health centers providing affordable health care to all people, regardless of their ability to pay. America’s health centers now serve more than 20 million people in 7,000 communities in all 50 states, and the “Access For All America” goal is provide a health care home for 30 million people by 2015. SEARHC operates community health centers in 11 communities, providing care to non-Natives using a sliding fee based on income. The SEARHC community health centers are located in Klawock, Hydaburg, Thorne Bay, Kasaan, Kake, Angoon, Tenakee Springs, Pelican, Haines, Klukwan and the Front Street Clinic in Juneau for the homeless. Back to top Regards, Roald