President’s Update for Dec. 16, 2011

In this edition...

In this edition …

SEARHC waits for Congress to complete its FFY2012 federal budget: We are waiting for Congress to pass a “Megabus” spending bill that will finally fund the federal fiscal year (FFY) 2012 budget. So far, only three of the 12 FFY2012 appropriations bills have been passed, and the government has been using continuing resolutions to fund the nine appropriations bills that are left. The current continuing resolution is scheduled to expire at midnight (Eastern Time) tonight. One of the nine appropriations bills still in limbo is the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill. The Interior appropriations contains funding for the Indian Health Service (IHS). The House and Senate have been meeting to try to pass all nine appropriations bills as part of a “Megabus” spending bill before Friday (the three appropriations bills that passed in November were part of the “Minibus” spending bill, and an omnibus spending bill is one that includes all 12 appropriations bills).

FY2012 started on Oct. 1, and the federal government has been running on continuing resolutions since the fiscal year started. House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers (R-Ky.) said they are hoping to avoid any more continuing resolutions this year, but a two-month continuing resolution has been offered as a fallback plan. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), the ranking Republican on the Interior-Environment Appropriations Subcommittee, said they have an “appropriations package ready to go.” But it might get held up in political battles over issues such as continuing a payroll tax and funding of the Keystone XL Pipeline. According to a chart from the National Indian Health Board (NIHB), there are three proposed Indian Health Service budgets that are an increase over the FY2011 budget of $4.07 billion. The President’s request for FY2012 was $4.62 billion for IHS, the House proposal is $4.46 billion, and the Senate proposal is $4.28 billion. NIHB said it appears if the Megabus passes, the IHS appropriation is likely to be closer to the Senate’s version than the House or President’s request.

The continuing resolution process creates havoc on cash flows for some tribal health organizations and critical compact funding is not approved until the last minute and takes weeks for the funding to find its way to tribal facilities. As we reach the end of this current continuing resolution, our cash flows are very tight. We received a news report late last night that a compromise deal may have been made between House and Senate leadership.

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Lisa Schwartz and Julie Sturtevant earn CDE credentials: Two of our diabetes nurse case managers — Lisa Schwartz, RN, of the Haines Health Center, and Julie Sturtevant, RN, of the Alicia Roberts Medical Center in Klawock — earned their certified diabetes educator (CDE) credentials from the National Certification Board for Diabetes Educators. Lisa and Julie earned their credentials after passing a certification examination for diabetes educators offered earlier this month during the 2011 IHS Alaska Area Diabetes Conference in Anchorage. Diabetes educators must be employed in the field of diabetes self-management education and have a minimum of two years and 1,000 hours of work experience in the field before they take the credentialing examination. The credential is good for five years. Lisa and Julie join Jennifer Henderson, RN, of S’áxt’ Hít Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital in Sitka as diabetes nurse case managers with the CDE credential.

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Advanced directives information given to Kake elders: SEARHC Elder Care Nurse Case Manager Auriella Hughes, RN, was in Kake on Wednesday, Dec. 14, to host a lunchtime gathering and discussion, titled \"Planning Ahead: A Gentle Introduction to Advanced Directives,\" at the Kake Senior Center. The event was a discussion about need-to-know planning for future health care preferences. Advance directives are legal documents about end-of-life care prepared ahead of time so family and friends know your wishes. The intent of the presentation was not to complete advanced directive, but to start the dialogue, review some helpful work sheets, introduce and hand out the Alaska state form, understand the terminology, talk about the importance of the document. For more information on advance directives, contact Kake elder care resource coordinator Margo Wilson at 785-6536.

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SEARHC helps with Sitka flu shot clinic: SEARHC was one of several organizations taking part in a free flu shot clinic Saturday, Dec. 10, at the Sitka Fire Hall. The four-hour clinic vaccinated 251 Sitka residents against influenza, using both shots and nasal mist. The clinic not only had the traditional intramuscular shot, but it also had a new type of intradermal shot that barely pricks the skin of the arm instead of going deep into the muscle. According to SEARHC nurse practitioner Kathy Ingallinera, who helped with the clinic, people can’t get the flu from either shot. The virus is dead, but it triggers an immune system response that sometimes gives mild symptoms of the flu. Most people who come down with the flu after receiving a shot were exposed to the germs before receiving the vaccination (it can take a couple of days for flu symptoms to appear). Besides Kathy, other staff from SEARHC participating in the clinic were Gale Kehres, Michelle Kennedy, Kari Lundgren, Kristen Homer and Val Heritsch. The clinic was sponsored by SEARHC, Sitka Community Hospital, Mountainside Family Healthcare, Sitka Medical Center, the Sitka Public Health Center, the U.S. Coast Guard-Air Station Sitka, White’s Inc./Harry Race Pharmacy and the Sitka Fire Department.

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Kake Day centennial celebration plans include health/career fair: The City of Kake is proud to announce the celebration of 100 years of ‘Kake Day’ on Jan. 8, 2012. Historically, Kake Day represented a day for all of Kake to celebrate the day in 1912 when the community became an incorporated first-class city government in the territory of Alaska. Although the day represented a positive step concerning western civilization, it was a contentious issue within Kake regarding traditional ways of governing. These days Kake Day not only is a celebration of the accomplishments of government and school/education, but also the Alaska Native community celebrating the history of Kake Tlingít ways. Please join Kake on Jan. 6-8, as it celebrates its centennial. Friday, Jan. 6, will feature a parade at 9 a.m.; a health, career, and arts and crafts fair from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with at least 11 SEARHC programs hosting tables; and a social and silent auction at 6 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 7, is dedicated to an overview about how Kake Day has influenced local Tlingít culture and protocol. Sunday, Jan. 8, is the actual Kake Day and it starts with a church service in the morning followed by a dinner program and celebration in the evening.

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Number of young Americans with insurance goes up due to health reform: This week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that 2.5 million young people have received health insurance coverage as a result of health care reform measures that President Barack Obama signed into law last year. About 2.5 million more people, aged 19 to 25, have health insurance than before the law took effect. The law has a provision that lets young adults remain on their parents' insurance plans through age 26, the agency's National Center for Health Statistics said. Obama signed the health care reform measure into law in March 2010. Young adults have traditionally been the age group least likely to have health insurance, the Department of Health and Human Services said. The policy extending dependent coverage up to age 26 took effect for plan renewals beginning in September 2010. The new estimates show that by June 2011, the percentage of insured young people in that age group rose from 64 percent to 73 percent, HHS said. Based on census figures that percentage change equates to about 2.5 million young people the agency said.

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Just a reminder …

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 for patients and SEARHC, and help patients navigate through SEARHC’s health system. SEARHC and the Kodiak Area Native Association (KANA) share an Anchorage-based patient advocate, Pamela Goodwin, who serves SEARHC and KANA patients 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 Pamela Goodwin at 729-3992 (942-5867, cell).

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24/7 on-call travel coordinators: Are you a SEARHC patient who needs after-hours help while traveling for a medical appointment? SEARHC 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.

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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 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 is 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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Regards, Roald