President’s Update for August 22, 2014

In this edition...

SEARHC Makes National News

Earlier this week, The Washington Post featured SEARHC in an excellent article they published about the challenges of getting Alaska Native people to sign up for health insurance since the Affordable Care Act was passed. The article explained why signing up for insurance is actually quite beneficial – especially when considering the many challenges we face in Southeast Alaska, such as access to specialists and geographic obstacles. We're extremely pleased they made the trip to actually visit some of our facilities and see our staff in action. Not only did they write a really informative article, but they had their videographer along and produced a great video as well.

Thanks to Andrea Thomas, SEARHC’s Outreach and Enrollment Manager, Kristina Randolph, Ethel Lund Medical Center’s Clinic Administrator, and Eric Gettis, SEARHC Director of Practice Management for coordinating the visit and participating in the interviews. Additional appreciation goes to the other SEARHC staff members and patients that provided access to The Washington Post crew and agreed to appear in the video. 

I encourage you, when you have a few minutes, to read the article and watch the six and a half minute video: Article with video.


Anyone interested in being screened for health insurance coverage should call Andrea Thomas at (907) 966-8883 or email email Andrea.

New Digital Retinal Cameras - Check out my eye!

I am happy to report that a Diabetes Grant recently covered the cost to purchase two new digital retinal cameras. This is especially good news for our patients with diabetes as it is important for everyone with the disease to be monitored on a yearly basis. The exams include baseline photography followed by repeat annual photo documentation. The new cameras are located in the Juneau and Sitka SEARHC Eye Clinics and are being used on a daily basis. The Klawock Eye Clinic also has a retinal camera.

The new systems are also compatible with our electronic health record (EHR). Therefore, high resolution photos can be uploaded into the EHR at the time of the visit allowing our eye care providers from different locations at SEARHC to view the images. Juneau based Optometric Assistants, Karen Rose and Marilyn James, were also quick to note that ‘the new camera shows more detail’ and find the camera ‘really easy to operate.’

We are really grateful to have this new equipment and the ability to expand the level of care for our patients.

And for those of you that want to know what it’s like, I had images taken of my eyes recently and it couldn’t have been easier. I’m pleased to report that my eyes are healthy, and the SEARHC Eye Clinic now has a baseline image that can be compared to future images. What you see below is a comparison of my healthy eye to an unhealthy one.

Eye images

My healthy eye (left) and an unhealthy eye (right).

Telebehavioral Health Program Offers Treatment for Vets with PTSD

The clinic is a collaborative project operated by the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Rural Health, Alaska VA Healthcare System in Anchorage, and University of Colorado in partnership with Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC). These services are provided by a tele-behavioral health connection between the SEARHC Behavioral Health clinic and the Alaska VA in Anchorage to help veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Telebehavioral Health allows people in different locations to not only speak to one another, but see each other in real time, using televisions and video cameras. This gives veterans more opportunities to access care and more choices in how they receive that care.

The program has already been in operation in Sitka for a year and beginning September 9th, veterans in Angoon will have also the opportunity to be seen in their home community by a psychologist at the VA in Anchorage the same way. The Community Family Service Worker (CFSW) in Angoon will help to coordinate the clinic, provide technical support and ensure the patient is comfortable with the equipment. Currently veterans are being seen by SEARHC’s tele-behavioral health clinician Vivian Fleming, LPC who is also a veteran. The addition of the VA psychologist will not replace their current provider but augment services to our veterans in the areas of specialization such as PTSD for our patients who have served in the military.

Wise Families Traditional Food Project Seal Butchering Workshop in Hoonah

In an effort to help educate and pass down the cultural traditions, our Wise Families Traditional Food program hosted a 3-day seal butchering and fat rendering workshop in Hoonah from August 19th – 21st. Roby Littlefield traveled from Sitka to Hoonah to give a demonstration on seal butchering and fat rendering. On the first day, Owen James (from Hoonah) demonstrated how to cut the seal meat and remove the fat from the seal, and the meat was then given to the participants. On the second day, the fat was rendered and put in jars, and the attendees participated in a discussion on the many ways to use seal oil. The final day involved a traditional food potluck and the seal fat that was rendered was distributed to participants.

Special thanks to Aaron St Clair (from Hoonah) who donated a seal for this event.

Charles Clement
Charles Clement President/CEO
3100 Channel Drive, Ste. 300
Juneau, AK 99801
(907) 463-4000

Just a reminder...

Group Medical Visits for Diabetes Patients in Juneau

Beginning on September 16th, SEARHC will be offering the option of Group Medical Visits at the Ethel Lund Medical Center in Juneau to our patients living with diabetes.

Group Medical visits are shared medical appointments with about 10-15 others who have the same health condition and include the participation of a medical provider and diabetes educator. During the visit, patients have time to talk with others who have diabetes, learn more about related health issues, and explore skills that might help them better manage their diabetes. Patients will also meet with their provider privately.

For more information, patients in Juneau are encouraged to speak to their medical provider, local Diabetes Educator or call the Ethel Lund Medical Center at 463-6664 to schedule participation in a group visit. Patients may also contact Maybelle Filler, Diabetes Grants Program Manager at (907) 966-8739 or email Maybelle.

Healthcare App from SEARHC

SEARHC has a web-based Nurse Triage Smartphone application (or app) for your Smartphone called “Healthcare on the Hip.” It contains an extensive library which can help you assess health concerns whenever & wherever your mobile device can get service. It is a convenient tool to help you decide whether you should contact your provider or can treat something at home. To download the web-based Smartphone app, you can visit the Nurse Triage Line page to learn how.

Summer Mobile Mammogram Schedule

The mobile mammography van will visit Haines on 8/20-8/25. For more information contact your local clinic, the SEARHC WISEWOMAN Women’s Health Program in Sitka at 966-8782 (1-888-388-8782, toll-free in Alaska), or e-mail the WISEWOMAN Health Program.

Sitka Senior Walking Group

The Injury Prevention Falls Prevention Program kicked off the “Sitka Senior Walking Group” at the Sitka Memorial National Park in June, and there will be weekly walks for the rest of the summer. Walkers of all ages and activity levels are welcome to meet outside the National Park Visitor’s center on Tuesdays at 10:15AM. For more information contact SEARHC’s Injury Prevention program at (907) 966-8866

Free Health Insurance for Alaska Natives/American Indians

Alaska Natives and American Indians may be eligible for free additional health insurance coverage through a trial program known as Tribally Sponsored Health Insurance Program (T-SHIP). Anyone interested in being screened for health insurance coverage should call Andrea Thomas at (907) 966-8883 or email email Andrea.