President’s Update for Jan. 30, 2012

In this edition...

In this edition …

SEARHC Dental wins Alaska Community Service Award: The SEARHC Dental Program was honored with the Alaska Community Service to Health Award during the Alaska Public Health Association awards luncheon on Wednesday, Jan. 25, at the Alaska Health Summit in Anchorage. SEARHC Director of Dental Services Dr. Tom Bornstein, DDS, was not able to get to Anchorage because of the weather, so Dr. Brad Whistler, DDS, the State of Alaska Dental Director, accepted the award on SEARHC’s behalf. The Alaska Community Service Award for Health recognizes an organization, business or group making a significant contribution to improving the health of Alaskans. The Alaska Public Health Association encourages nominees from outside the public health tradition to be considered for this award. The SEARHC Dental Program was honored for its work supporting oral health using multiple clinical and community strategies. The program has been supporting oral health across Southeast Alaska by providing dental care for Alaska Native people as well as recipients of Medicaid/Denali KidCare. The program actively outreaches to new clients, from infants to the elderly, who are covered solely by Medicaid or Denali KidCare. Through its outreach to the pediatric population in Juneau, children who were without access to preventive dental care were provided pediatric dental services. The program has conducted a community needs assessment for pediatric dental access in the region and has advocated to increase access to pediatric preventive dental care in Southeast Alaska. The Dental Program is not the first SEARHC program honored. In 2009, the SEARHC Steps to a Healthier SE Alaska program shared the award with Ellen Frankenstein of Sitka (for their work on the movie “Eating Alaska”).

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LEAD group discusses tobacco disparities at Alaska Health Summit: SEARHC Gunaanastí Bill Brady Healing Center Chemical Dependency Counselor Murray Crookes joined Michael Powell of the Alaska Division of Behavioral Health and Nick Gonzales of Akeela House on the stage during a breakout session Wednesday at the Alaska Health Summit. The three represent the statewide Nicotine Addiction in Behavioral Health (NABH) group, which is part of LEAD (Leadership in Eliminating Alaska Disparities). The presentation focus highlighted the need to eliminate disparities, specifically concerning tobacco policy, which is not consistent among the behavioral health providers within the state of Alaska. Nick presented Akeela's policy, and Murray presented a practical account of the challenges faced in a treatment setting as well as the benefits of being tobacco-free. A few examples of challenges include under-diagnosis of tobacco dependence, inconsistent message of tobacco addiction (for example, staff members using tobacco or a support system, such as AA, that does not address tobacco addiction), and financial barriers such as billing that make incorporating tobacco treatment difficult in a behavioral health setting. The benefits of integrating comprehensive tobacco policy as an agency included best practices by treating all addictions, consistent approach to the mission of addiction treatment, and maintaining program values that support clients in their recovery.

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SAMHSA adds SEARHC-sponsored event to its Recovery Month site: The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) added the SEARHC-sponsored “Recovery Canoe Journey and Community Potlatch” in Sitka to its national website about National Recovery Month. The short blurb highlights different events that happened in Sitka during National Recovery Month, and it list that include some of the partners. It also showed a drum and the back of a neckerchief with the event’s logo. To view the link, click http://www.recoverymonth.gov/Community-Events/2012/Recovery-Canoe-Journey-and-Community-Potlatch-3640.aspx.

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SEARHC hosts Wear/Cook Blue Potluck in Juneau to promote cervical cancer awareness: On Monday, Jan. 23, the SEARHC WISEWOMAN Women’s Health Program hosted the inaugural Wear/Cook Blue Potluck at lunch at the Ethel Lund Medical Center conference rooms to promote cervical cancer awareness. January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. Alaska Native and American Indian women being nearly three times as likely to die from cervical cancer than all other races in the United States combined, according to 2006 data from the Indian Health Service. The event provided information about cervical and other gynecologic cancers, such as risk factors, what people can do to prevent cervical cancer, the HPV vaccine and Pap tests. To learn more about cervical cancer, contact Tia Filau of the WISEWOMAN program at 364-4450.

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SEARHC hires Michele Susie as part of Klukwan Health Center services upgrade: Nurse practitioner Michele Susie has been hired to work at the SEARHC Klukwan Health Center and Haines Health Center. Michele will work part-time in Klukwan, providing services to Chilkat Indian Village tribal members and residents of the upper Chilkat Valley (north of Mile 18 Haines Highway). Previously we had a community health aide/practitioner (CHA/P) providing services in Klukwan, so this is an upgrade in services. Michele also will work part-time at the Haines Health Center, when she isn’t scheduled to be in Klukwan, and she will provide services to Tenakee Springs. Michele previously worked for SEARHC from 2007-09, when she was a nurse practitioner and CHA/P program supervisor at the Kake Health Center (she left Alaska to tend to a family illness). Michele has a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from the University of Kentucky in Lexington, and a Master of Science degree in Nursing from Spalding University in Louisville, Ky. She is board-certified as a family nurse practitioner by the American Nurses Credentialing Center Commission on Certification, and by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Program. She has been inducted into the Iota Gamma Chapter of the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing. In addition to her time with SEARHC, Michele has worked in the Alutiiq villages of Port Graham and Nanwalek on the Kenai Peninsula, and she has worked in Kentucky and Montana.

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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