President’s Update for Jan. 16, 2012

In this edition...

In this edition …

SEARHC Air Medical Service upgrades level of medevac service: The State of Alaska has certified SEARHC Air Medical Service at the level of “Critical Care Air Ambulance Service,” effective Jan. 1. The state maintains three levels of certifications — 1. MedEvac; 2. Critical Care Air Ambulance Service; and 3. Specialty Aeromedical Transport Team. Since 1996, SEARHC has been certified at “MedEvac Air Medical Service.” The upgrade in our level of certification reflects a significant commitment by SEARHC over the past five years to increase the type of flight staff, training and the equipment carried by our service. At this time we are staffed with four dedicated critical care flight nurses (CCFNs). We carry a full range of Advanced Life Support (ALS) monitoring and treatment equipment. We are capable of bringing an advanced level of care to patients in our remote clinics and initiating interventions on scene that would not otherwise be available outside a hospital. Our primary aircraft is designed to carry a pilot, two flight nurses, a patient and possible patient escort. When medical transport is required from a village with no runway, we are able to configure the only FAA-certified medevac floatplane in Southeast Alaska to the same level of care. When specific patient care requirements such as need for a “pressurized” cabin or a long-distance transport out of region, SEARHC contracts with other air medical services to meet our customers’ needs. Our thanks to all those within the organization that had the vision and commitment to help grow our service to better meet our mission of providing the best possible patient care.

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Final statewide suicide prevention plan released: Alaska’s Statewide Suicide Prevention Council released its new statewide suicide prevention plan, “Casting the Net Upstream: Promoting Wellness to Prevent Suicide in Alaska,” this week. The plan is a call to action that stresses each Alaskan has a role to play in preventing suicide. It also marks a shift from intervention to prevention — not just how best to reach out to people in crisis, but how best to keep people from reaching a point of crisis. The 2012–2017 plan was developed with input from meetings held across the state. A public comment period was held Oct. 25–Nov. 30, 2011. The plan’s goals are: Alaskans accept responsibility for preventing suicide; Alaskans effectively and appropriately respond to people at risk of suicide; Alaskans communicate, cooperate and coordinate suicide prevention efforts; Alaskans have immediate access to prevention, treatment and recovery services; and Alaskans support survivors in healing. Quality data and research is available and used for planning, implementation and evaluation of suicide prevention efforts. The plan lists a set of specific strategies for accomplishing each goal. The plan is posted on the Statewide Suicide Prevention Council’s website, http://www.hss.state.ak.us/suicideprevention; and the state suicide prevention portal, http://www.StopSuicideAlaska.org/.

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Donna Millan joins medical staff in Kake: We have added nurse practitioner Donna Millan, NP-C, MSN-Ed, to the medical staff at the Kake Health Center. Donna spent many years as a nurse with the Veterans Administration, 10 years as a registered nurse in Helena, Mont., and 20 years as a licensed practical nurse in both Helena and San Diego VA hospitals. As a VA nurse she worked in acute care medical and surgical hospital wards, plus she also worked part-time in the emergency room. From 2003-07, she was a part-time nursing instructor at Carroll College in Helena while also working for the VA. Donna has a Bachelor of Arts degree in nursing and earned her RN credential from Carroll College. She earned a Master of Science in Nursing Education from Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash., where she also completed a post-MSN degree to earn her family nurse practitioner credential. She is board certified by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. As a nurse practitioner student, Donna trained at the Sand Point Clinic in Alaska for a couple of weeks.

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SEARHC goes to paperless lab reports: On Jan. 9, all SEARHC lab reports went paperless. There no longer will be printed copies put into patient charts. Providers will go into the Orchard Copia program to see all lab reports. This will improve our health care delivery because the electronic record will be current and include all lab reports from all of our facilities. There will be fewer duplicated labs because a recent lab report hadn’t made it into the chart yet, or because the test was taken in Klawock and the patient was in Sitka. We also expect to save on paper, toner and chart filing time with the conversion. This is a first step toward going paperless with a complete electronic health record.

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Yéil Jeeyáx Raven’s Way students experience Tlingít tradition: Students had the unique change to participate in a HooHaa (Tlingít for halibut fishing) during a recent course of the Yéil Jeeyáx Raven’s Way adolescent residential substance abuse treatment center. Led by teacher Ryan Hill, the students met with local culture bearers Charlie Skulka and Nancy Douglas to learn how to make halibut skates out of traditional materials. They then used the SEARHC traditional canoe (Toowú Latséen) to set the skate and harvest fish. While en route, they learned Tlingít language and songs as Nancy drummed. Nancy and Charlie both told Ryan it had been decades since they could remember people using a traditional canoe for a HooHaa.

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