President’s Update for Feb. 3, 2012

In this edition...

In this edition …

SEARHC names Barbara Searls as CFO and Matthew Ione as CAO: This week we removed the interim tags and made Barbara Searls the Chief Financial Officer and Matthew Ione the Chief Administrative Officer. Barbara and Matthew held their respective titles on an interim basis for the past month or so, and this move puts them in the positions on a long-term basis. Many of you know Barbara from when she was SEARHC’s vice president of finance and administration from 2002-06. Matthew has been SEARHC’s human resources director since 2010. Given the very difficult times we are in and given the excellent work both have been doing, it is in SEARHC’s best interest to have a stable, cohesive executive leadership team. The entire senior executive core is committed to SEARHC’s mission and committed to working with Mr. Clement to see SEARHC succeed this year and for years to come. I know you will enjoy working with the entire team, thank you for welcoming them to their new roles.

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SEARHC Behavioral Health hosts Living Well chronic disease support group on POW: The SEARHC Behavioral Health Division on Prince of Wales Island is partnering with the primary health care providers at the Alicia Roberts Medical Center in Klawock to offer a “Living Well with Chronic Conditions” support group. The free support group will meet at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesdays, starting on Feb. 29, at the SEARHC Behavioral Health Office in Craig (located in the Thibodeaux Mall). The support group is modeled after the Living Well Alaska workshops about chronic disease self-management offered by the State of Alaska, but instead of being a set number of sessions this will be an ongoing group and participants can start and stop at any time. For more information about this group, contact SEARHC Behavioral Health Division POW Clinical Supervisor Pete Ryan, LCSW, MAC, at 755-4935. The SEARHC Behavioral Health Division on POW hopes to offer additional support groups in the near future with topics such as grief and loss support, anxiety reduction and support, parenting toddlers to adolescents, and children of divorce. To learn more about the Living Well Alaska model of chronic disease self-management, go to http://www.hss.state.ak.us/dph/chronic/smp/ to download a brochure.

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2012 Ethel Lund Village Health Occupations Program (VHOP) applications available: Each year, SEARHC selects several Southeast-area Native students interested in health careers for the Ethel Lund Village Health Occupations Program (VHOP), and the students spend a week at S’áxt’ Hít Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital in Sitka learning about different health careers and educational requirements. The health field is growing, which means plenty of job opportunities for people with the right training. Health careers usually offer good pay and employee benefits, as well as the satisfaction of helping others. This year's VHOP session is scheduled for April 24-27, with travel dates being April 23 and 28. Students selected to participate in VHOP receive assistance to cover the travel costs to and from Sitka, housing, meals and some evening entertainment. The application deadline is Friday, March 23. Completed applications may be mailed to Jessika Beam, SEARHC Tribal Recruitment Coordinator, 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. For more information, contact Jessika at 966-8903 in Sitka. Because space is limited, interested students should apply early. Application packets are available at high school offices, at local village corporations or by going to http://www.searhc.org/students/vhop.php.

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SEARHC’s Megan Gregory to receive Women of Distinction honor: Megan Gregory, a community project assistant in Juneau for the SEARHC Behavioral Health/Suicide Prevention Program, has been informed that she will be one of four women honored during the 2012 AWARE (Aiding Women in Abuse and Rape Emergencies) Women of Distinction banquet and silent auction on March 3. This annual event honors women who have made a difference for women and children living in Juneau. Megan graduated from Kake High School and attends the University of Alaska Southeast. She recently served as youth advisor to the Sealaska Corporation Board of Directors, youth representative to the Central Council of Tlingít and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, and as one of three youth board members on the Center for Native American Youth Board of Directors (a national organization). She currently is a member of the “1 is 2 Many” regional suicide prevention task force for Southeast Alaska, and leads the Youth Ambassador Program sponsored by SEARHC and 1 is 2 Many. She also is on the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention Task Force.

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Two S’áxt’ Hít Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital nurses earn credentials: Sherry Kennedy, RN, recently earned a national certification as a critical care registered nurse (CCRN). This credential is for nurses who regularly work in the intensive care unit/critical care unit of a hospital. Sherry currently is our only nurse at S’áxt’ Hít Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital who has passed the extensive tests needed to earn this credential. Aiden Kennedy, RN (Sherry’s husband), recently earned his credential as a certified emergency nurse (CEN), which is for nurses who specialize in emergency services. Aiden joins several S’áxt’ Hít Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital nurses with the CEN credential — Ed Gonzalez, Erin Combs, Jenna Patrick and Mary Watkins. Gale Kehres and Katie Dangel of the SEARHC Air Ambulance Service also have the CEN credential.

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SEARHC to host WISE At Every Size workshops in five communities: Are you tired of weight-loss diets that don't work? Do you want to learn about a fun, effective way to improve your health and wellness, without being a slave to the scale? Then the WISE At Every Size program may be for you. Several SEARHC Health Promotion programs are sponsoring a series of free WISE At Every Size classes in five communities throughout the region — Kake, Haines, Klawock, Juneau and Sitka. WISE At Every Size is a non-dieting approach to health and wellness. The classes are open to all teens and adult men and women. They focus on listening to your body's messages of hunger and fullness, finding ways to get joyful movement and having a positive body image. Research has shown that this approach can reduce blood pressure, cholesterol and blood glucose readings, while improving overall fitness. Class times vary, depending on the community. To learn more, contact Kari Natwick at 364-4460 (Juneau, Kake), Kim Meadows at 364-4451 (Juneau), Pam Sloper at 766-6367 (Haines), Georgie Davis-Gastelum at 785-6516 (Kake), June May at 755-4959 (Klawock), Janai Meyer at 617-7306 (Klawock), Martha Pearson at 966-8783 (Sitka), Lisa Sadleir-Hart at 966-8735 (Sitka) or Renae Mathson at 966-8797 (Sitka).

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Dr. Dave McCandless joins medical staff in Haines: Longtime Alaska physician Dr. Dave McCandless has joined the medical staff at the Haines Health Center. Dr. McCandless spent 20 years as a family practitioner with the Alaska Island Community Services (Tideline Clinic) in Wrangell, where he served as medical director from 2004-07. In recent years, Dr. McCandless has worked part-time for AICS, and also did locums work around the region including with the SEARHC Alicia Roberts Medical Center in Klawock. He also has been medical director with Southeast Region Emergency Medical Services (SEREMS). Dr. McCandless earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind. He earned a Master of Science degree from Pennsylvania State University in State College, Pa. He earned his Medical Doctorate from the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine in Oklahoma City, and he completed a residency in family medicine at The Washington Hospital in Washington, Pa.

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SEARHC nurses in Sitka hold summit to set initiatives for 2012: On Wednesday, Jan. 25, Sitka-based SEARHC nurses hosted a summit where they decided on three initiatives to work on during 2012. The initiatives are to make enhancements that will result in a more functional, comfortable and safe environment for staff and patients; support and make improvements in education, training and professional development; and build a stronger and more collaborative team. The nursing staff already is working toward these three goals, and nurses are sending Melissa Brooks success stories. Doug Osborne of Health Promotion helped facilitate the nurses’ summit, and the nurses are working with him on how to work on these new projects. Many of the nurses also are meeting to hike Sitka’s Cross Trail on Sunday afternoon as a team-building exercise.

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Just a reminder …

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. SEARHC and the Kodiak Area Native Association (KANA) share an Anchorage-based patient advocate, who serves SEARHC and KANA patients receiving care at the Alaska Native Medical Center (the SEARHC/KANA position currently is under recruitment and patients can call the Alaska Native Medical Center Customer Experience Department at 729-3990 until it is filled). 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 patient advocate at 729-3992 (942-5867, cell).

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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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Ken Truitt SEARHC Interim President/CEO