President’s Update for Jan. 6, 2012

In this edition...

In this edition …

Interim leadership appointments: I wanted to let everyone know of two new interim appointments within our management team. Barbara Searls has agreed to be our Interim Chief Financial Officer and Vice President of Finance. Barbara has many years of finance experience — including being a past SEARHC CFO/VP of Finance — and she is a great addition for us here at SEARHC. She started on Wednesday, Jan. 4. Human Resources Director Matt Ione has agreed to be the Interim VP of Administration/Chief Administrative Officer. Matt will have oversight over ISD (Information Services), Facilities, HR, Planning and Development, and Corporate Communications. These interim appointments will last until these VP positions are filled permanently. Until then, both Matt and Barb have the full vice-president authority. Please welcome them, thank them for their willingness to step up during this time and please extend to them every courtesy.

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SEARHC and LEAD make tobacco prevention video available: The SEARHC Tobacco Prevention team and Leadership for Eliminating Alaskan Disparities (LEAD) Workgroup are pleased to provide you with an exciting new video that can be used to compliment tobacco prevention work in the Alaska Native community. The video titled, “Tribal Leaders: Taking a Stand for Health” documents the role tribal leadership plays in protecting Alaska Native people from the harms of secondhand smoke, and preventing Alaska Native youth from ever starting to use tobacco. Included in the video is commentary from tribal leaders such as Gloria O'Neill, President/CEO of Cook Inlet Tribal Council, and Lincoln Bean, Chair of the Alaska Native Health Board, among others. The video may be used to build support for tobacco prevention and control initiatives in your community. If you have any questions about the video or would like more information about SEARHC or LEAD, please contact Edy Rodewald (edy.rodewald@searhc.org) or Dana Diehl (dana.diehl@alaska.gov).

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Dr. David Vastola returns to clinical practice: Longtime SEARHC Community Health Care Services Medical Director Dr. David Vastola, MD, left the position in December so he could return to clinical practice. Dr. Vastola remains with SEARHC and now is a full-time pediatrician with the S’áxt’ Hít Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital in Sitka. Dr. Vastola has been with SEARHC since 1988, when he first was hired as a pediatrician at S’áxt’ Hít Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital in Sitka.

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SEARHC offers food discussions in Angoon: SEARHC will offer a pair of free discussions about food and healthy cooking at lunch on Tuesday and Wednesday, Jan. 17-18, at the Angoon Senior Center. SEARHC Community Dietitian II Kari Natwick, RD, LD, CLEC, will be in Angoon for medical nutrition therapy appointments at the Jessie Norma Jim Health Center. While she is in Angoon, Kari will stop by the Angoon Senior Center to offer a lunchtime discussion on Tuesday about cooking with your slow cooker. On Wednesday, she will lead a game of food bingo. In Tuesday’s presentation about slow cookers, Kari will provide tips on how to use slow cookers to make easy and healthy meals. She also will provide ideas and recipes for the whole family. Wednesday’s food bingo game will provide a fun way to learn about traditional foods. Van rides home will be provided to elders attending the discussion, and refreshments will be served. For more information about the presentations, contact SEARHC Angoon Elder Care Resource Coordinator Dan Johnson at 788-4637 or contact Kari in Juneau at 364-4460.

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State releases studies about the impact of falls and fall-related injuries: Two studies published this week by the Alaska Section of Epidemiology show fall-related injuries as a frequent reason Alaskans are hospitalized. Close to 9,000 Alaskans were hospitalized with fall-related injuries between 2005 and 2009. Highest rates were recorded for people over the age of 65, Alaska Native people, and those living in the Northern region of the state. Falls occurred most commonly in the home, and were most frequently due to a slip, trip or stumble. Among seniors, more than half of the hospitalizations were classified as serious or severe, and 5 percent of those hospitalized died during their hospital stay. Deborah Hull-Jilly, the lead author of the studies, said, “Costs for treatment over the five years studied totaled more than $193 million, so obviously preventing fall-related injury is an important mission for public health.” We already are working on preventing falls at SEARHC, and in recent years we have trained several volunteer coaches to teach the WELL-Balanced (Wise Elders Living Longer) program in Southeast Alaska communities. WELL-Balanced is a community intervention program from the National Resource Center on Native American Aging. It is designed to help Native elders improve movement, encourage exercise and help them reduce their risk of falling. WELL-Balanced volunteer coaches learn how to teach the course, how to observe elders’ gaits, train elders how to walk in a safer manner, teach them how to remove tripping hazard from their environment and lead elders in an exercise program with balance training. To learn more about WELL-Balanced and how to be a volunteer coach, contact SEARHC Community Injury Prevention Coordinator Jennifer Young at 966-8866 or SEARHC Diabetes Health Educator Renae Mathson at 966-8797. To learn more about the WELL-Balanced training, go to http://ruralhealth.und.edu/projects/nrcnaa/wellbalanced.php.

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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