President’s Update for Feb. 13, 2011

In this edition...

In this edition … SEARHC Behavioral Health offers Sitka and Angoon support groups: SEARHC Behavioral Health is offering the Yei éek kwa néix (you are going to get well) support groups to residents of Sitka and Angoon. These are culturally based evening support groups that started on Feb. 4. They will be offered three times a week and are designed to encourage individuals toward personal growth and resiliency. The weekly schedule includes sessions from 5:30-7 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The Monday and Friday groups will be facilitated by the staff of Gunaanastí (Bill Brady Healing Center), while Wednesday evenings will be facilitated by the staff of the Haa Toowóo Náakw Hít outpatient behavioral health clinic. Participants can expect a relaxed atmosphere where group interaction and discussion regarding each night’s topic is encouraged and supported. The groups are open to both tribal and non-tribal individuals. The location is 1204 Seward Ave. (the second building on the right past the SEARHC Childcare) on the lower SEARHC campus in Sitka. For more information, contact Stewart Pook at (907) 966-8640. For patients in Angoon, contact Lenora Walker at (907) 788-4632. Back to top SEARHC clinics to close in honor of Elizabeth Peratrovich Day on Feb. 16: SEARHC will honor the achievements of Alaska Native civil rights leader Elizabeth Wanamaker Peratrovich by observing Elizabeth Peratrovich Day on Wednesday, Feb. 16. Elizabeth Peratrovich Day is a special day for our patients and staff, and it is important that we honor her achievements. Our outpatient clinics will be closed on Wednesday, Feb. 16, for Elizabeth Peratrovich Day, but we will have on-call staff available to provide emergency services at those clinics that offer emergency services. We also will have staff working at S’áxt’ Hít Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital to take care of our patients who are hospitalized. Back to top ANHB meets in Juneau: The Alaska Native Health Board (ANHB) held a series of meetings Tuesday through Thursday in Juneau. ANHB is a membership organization consisting of tribal health providers from across Alaska and advocates for health at the federal and state levels. Members met with the Indian Health Service, Veterans Affairs, and the State of Alaska Department of Health and Social Services. During a meeting with federal partners, ANHB received a report from Chris Mandregan, Director of Alaska Area Native Health Service (IHS), and staff reports from Veterans Affairs. This also was the first time that members met with Bill Streur in his capacity as the newly appointed Commissioner of the Department of Health and Social Services. ANHB members sought updates and advocated for increased Medicaid funding to take advantage of federal matches for tribal members, vaccines, increased funds for targeted tobacco prevention activities, suicide prevention, and increased collaboration on health delivery. During the week, several members also visited their legislative delegations to discuss the state operating and capital budgets. Back to top Federal budgets for 2011 and 2012: I apologize in advance for the length of this topic. Even as this summary is written, the federal budget scenario changes by the day. We continue to monitor and advocate for additional budget resources as part of the Federal Fiscal Year (FFY) 2011 and 2012 budgets. Congress has not adopted a FFY 2011 budget (beginning October 2010). We have been on a series of continuing resolutions since the start of the year. The current continuing resolution ends on March 4. Leadership in the House of Representatives said it wants to reduce the budget to FFY2008 levels. On Saturday, we saw a version of HR1 that will fund the federal government for the remainder of the year. HR1 includes language to fund the Indian Health Services with approximately a 6 percent increase (mostly in Contract Support and Contract Health), while many other programs have reductions. We also are concerned for programs like the Health Resource and Services Administration (HRSA), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA). On Monday, Feb. 14, President Obama is due to release his proposed budget for FFY2012. He has recommended a five-year freeze on non-defense discretionary spending (this includes the IHS budget). While we are worried that IHS is considered a discretionary portion of the budget, we have had support in recent years from the President. We will be able to share more after the release of the proposed budget on Monday. In the meantime, we are advocating for increases in our budget and, specifically, in Contract Support Costs and Contract Health funds. We will watch and report on new developments in the federal budget for this year and the plans for next year. Back to top MEHS Student Health Center celebrates School-Based Health Centers Month: The SEARHC Mt. Edgecumbe High School (MEHS) Student Health Center is celebrating National School-Based Health Centers Awareness Month in February. The recognition reminds people of the role school clinics play in keeping students healthy and learning. SEARHC has operated the Mt. Edgecumbe High School Student Health Center since 2007, working in partnership with the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development that runs the statewide boarding school in Sitka. The MEHS Student Health Center is open seven days a week (7:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 4:30-10:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday). The clinic is staffed by two part-time mid-level providers (Clinic Manager Kari Lundgren, PA-C, and Nancy Cavanaugh, CPNP) and three regular school nurses (Michelle Mork, RN, Jill Johnson, LPN, and Kathy Eggen, LPN). In addition, several itinerant nurses help the clinic provide seven-day-a-week coverage, with Kelly Ferguson, RN, and Nikki Stronquist, RN. Clinic staff is available for classroom instruction, and they host an annual student health fair in the spring (8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 12). The clinic provides urgent care services, medication management (including over-the-counter medications) and sick-bay services for the students. In addition, the clinic works with other SEARHC programs in Sitka to provide more advanced services, including dental, optometry and behavioral health. The MEHS Student Health Center also is accredited by the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC). Back to top TCC group visits SEARHC programs in Sitka, Haines: A five-person team from the Tanana Chiefs Conference (TCC, the Fairbanks-based regional tribal health care provider for Interior Alaska) visited SEARHC facilities and programs in Sitka and Haines last week. The team included a physician, mid-level provider, pharmacist, quality manager and health administrator. The team met with SEARHC staff to learn about our policies and procedures for our rural clinics. They learned about the accreditation process with the AAAHC (Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care). They also learned how we screen for patients for income-based sliding discount provided in community health centers sponsored by the Health Resource and Services Administration (HRSA). Back to top Regards, Roald