President’s Update for July 30, 2011

In this edition...

In this edition … SEARHC, Hoonah mourn death of Chuck Luck and his wife: It is with profound sadness that the community of Hoonah and SEARHC has lost one its newest employees, Charles W. “Chuck” Luck, PA-C. The news media reported that Chuck was the pilot of an Anchorage-based Cessna 182 that crashed near Eaglecrest Ski Area on Douglas Island while en route from Hoonah to Juneau on Sunday morning, July 24. His wife, Liping “Rose” Tang-Luck, also perished in the crash. Since the crash on Sunday, search and rescue teams were hindered from getting to the crash site because of the weather and rugged terrain until Monday afternoon. The SEARHC Board of Directors and our management team would like to offer sincere condolences and prayer to the family and community of Hoonah on behalf of the SEARHC. We also hold up our Hoonah Health Center staff on the loss of their newest staff member. Additional information will be provided as soon as we get it. Back to top SEARHC renames Hydaburg Health Center to honor Alma Cook: On Friday, July 29, there was a ceremony to rename the Hydaburg clinic the Alma Cook Health Center to honor our longtime community health aide/practitioner and former board member from Hydaburg. Alma and Alicia Roberts of Klawock started working as CHA/Ps in 1964-65 (our Klawock clinic is named for Alicia). They worked for five years without pay, usually seeing patients in their own homes before Congress in 1968 voted to add a $192 a month wage for CHA/Ps in the Indian Health Service budget. Alma attended the first Southeast Alaska Native Board of Health meeting, which took place in December 1968 in Sitka, and she still was a member of group when it voted to create SEARHC in February 1975. Alma was the first Hydaburg Cooperative Association tribal representative to the SEARHC Board, serving from 1975-76 and again from 2003-06. We have a tradition of honoring our community clinics after our longtime health aides as a way to honor all health aides in the region, so we are very happy to honor Alma. Back to top House posts unveiled at Alma Cook Health Center in Hydaburg: SEARHC, working through the Hydaburg Cooperative Association, unveiled three new house poles carved for the newly renovated and expanded clinic by Hydaburg residents and master-carvers Warren Peele, Clarence Peele Jr., and Joe Frisby. Clarence’s pole features a raven with three watchmen on top; Warren’s pole features a shaman holding a rattle and standing on a box of medicine with the SEARHC logo; and Joe’s pole features a beaver at the top, a man at the beaver’s stomach, an eagle underneath and a frog by the eagle’s legs. SEARHC is honored to work with the Hydaburg Cooperative Association and the master carvers on these wonderful additions to our clinic. Back to top Chief Operating Officer Frank Sutton prepares for retirement: SEARHC Chief Operating Officer Frank Sutton will be retiring Friday, Aug. 5, after 40 years with SEARHC. He first arrived in Sitka at what was then known as the Mt. Edgecumbe Service Unit for the Indian Health Service in 1971, where he worked as a pharmacist until he became Director of Hospital Services in 1978. In 1999, he was promoted to Vice President of Hospital Services, and in October 2009 he became Chief Operating Officer. Frank holds a Bachelor of Science degree in pharmacy from Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford, Okla., and a Master of Science degree in health care administration from Trinity University of San Antonio, Texas. He is a retired Captain in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, with 28 years as an officer in the USPHS. He became a Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives in 2006, and in November 2009 Frank received the Senior-Level Healthcare Executive Regent’s Award from ACHE. Frank will join us for two celebrations of his tenure, in late August in Juneau and September in Sitka. We appreciate Frank’s many accomplishments and commitments for our organization, and SEARHC will forever be thankful for his work toward our mission. Our recruitment process for Frank’s replacement has drawn significant interest and we are holding our first set of telephone interviews in early August. Back to top SEARHC Colorectal Cancer Screening Program exceeds goals: The SEARHC Colorectal Cancer Screening Program has met and even exceeded its screening goals for Year 1 and Year 2 of its sub-award from the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC). This speaks to both the hard work of our program-funded staff and the great collaboration we have across multiple departments between S’áxt’ Hít Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital and At Kaník Hít House of Information. The work of our staff to address screening for colorectal cancer has a tangible and lasting impact on the lives of our patients and their families. Háw’aa for this success in increasing the colorectal cancer screening rates across our region. Back to top Six nurses earn CEN credential: Six Sitka-based nurses recently earned the Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN) credential after passing a strenuous exam through the Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing. The special exam took place in Sitka so employees with SEARHC, Sitka Community Hospital and Guardian Flight Medevac Services could take the CEN and CFRN (Certified Flight Registered Nurse) credential exams. Earning the CEN credential from S’áxt’ Hít Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital were Erin Combs, Cindy Thomas, Mary Watkins and Jennifer Patrick. Katie Lewis and Gale Kehres of SEARHC Air Medical Service also earned the credential. They join several other SEARHC staff members who already hold the CEN credentials. SEARHC Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital Emergency Room-Critical Care Services Manager Ed Gonzalez, RN, BS, CEN, CFRN, and SEARHC Air Medical Service Chief Flight Nurse George Burnstein, RN, MBA, CFRN, deserve special thanks for arranging for this special exam to take place in Sitka. Back to top SEARHC Tobacco Program hosts CDC site visit: The SEARHC Tobacco Program recently hosted a site visit with its CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Tribal Support Center Program Manager Susan Brown. Susan participated in numerous meetings, including an overview of all the SEARHC tobacco media in the region and planning for the future. She also attended a noon Sitka Tobacco Coalition meeting, and she met with management about the importance of smoke-free workplaces for tribal citizens, including reviewing the tribal information flyers and resolution created for local tribes. Susan attended a meeting where SEARHC discussed the mandatory grant requirement of conducting our own Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey to capture regional data. The survey will take place this fall. Susan shared that she thought the SEARHC Tobacco Program was in excellent shape and also a help to the sister Tribal Support Center located in Fairbanks. Back to top Sen. Lisa Murkowski staff person visits Klawock, Thorne Bay clinics: Ephraim Froehlich, a legislative correspondent from Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s office, recently paid a visit to Prince of Wales Island. Ephraim, who grew up in Juneau, toured the Alicia Roberts Medical Center in Klawock and also visited our Thorne Bay clinic. According to Deputy ARMC Clinic Administrator Joyce Moore, Ephraim said he planned to try to get Sen. Murkowski to visit the clinic on Aug. 6, when she is in Klawock for the totem raising ceremony. The visit was part of a U.S. Senate Delegation Alaska mobile office initiative for 2011, where Sen. Murkowski and Sen. Mark Begich both have staff members from Washington, D.C., visiting communities across the state to gather information and learn about concerns Alaskans have with the federal government. Back to top Megan Gregory wins national award: Megan Gregory, a Juneau-based community project assistant with the SEARHC Behavioral Health/Suicide Prevention Program, was notified that she won a national award. Megan has been selected as a 2011 National Indian Health Service Behavioral Health Achievement Award recipient. She is being recognized for Outstanding Youth Leadership in Suicide Prevention, and she will receive her award on Aug. 3 at the IHS/BIA/BIE/SAMHSA Action Summit for Suicide Prevention in Scottsdale, Ariz. The summit, which has the theme “Partnering With Tribes to Protect the Circle of Life,” takes place Aug. 1-4 and focuses on emerging suicide and substance abuse prevention issues. The event is held in conjunction with the Second Annual Methamphetamine and Suicide Prevention Initiative Conference. Back to top Sitka colorectal cancer presentation: SEARHC will host Dr. David Perdue of the University of Minnesota for a presentation about colorectal cancer from noon to 1 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 5, in the fourth-floor conference room at S’áxt’ Hít Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital. Dr. Perdue is the only board-certified gastroenterologist of American Indian heritage in the world. The topic of his presentation is “Colorectal cancer disparities in American Indian and Alaska Native people: What can we do about it?” Continuing education credits are available. This presentation is made possible by the SEARHC Colorectal Cancer Screening Program, the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC) Colorectal Cancer Program “Screen For Life,” Southcentral Foundation and the Alaska Native Epidemiology Center. For more information, contact Kathy Kubik at 966-8541 or kkubik@searhc.org. Back to top Rep. Don Young introduces bill to expand veteran access to health care: On July 14, Rep. Don Young introduced H.R. 2203, which will create a pilot program that will allow veterans in Alaska who receive Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits to have the choice of receiving care at non-VA facilities. This is a companion bill to S. 1146, introduced earlier by Sen. Mark Begich. This bill allows Alaska veterans to receive medical care at any facility or medical provider that currently receives payments from Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare or the Indian Health Service. The Alaska VA Healthcare System is based in Anchorage, with community-based outpatient clinics in Fairbanks, Kenai, the Mat-Su and Juneau. This means veterans living in rural Alaska lack easy access to VA-provided health care services. If either of these bills passes, then veterans will be able to receive health care from SEARHC clinics using their VA health benefits. Back to top SEARHC receives new Behavioral Health Prevention grant: The SEARHC Behavioral Health Prevention program learned it will be receiving an Alaska Division of Behavioral Health Strategic Prevention Framework/State Incentive Grant. This three-year grant is for $350,000 and it targets reducing youth underage drinking and binge drinking and the consequences of both. We will be working with our local schools to increase participation in the Youth Risk Behavioral Health Survey run by the state, and we hope to accomplish a lot in partnership with our communities. This grant replaces the behavioral health comprehensive grant, which was not renewed. Back to top W.K. Kellogg Foundation endorses dental health aide therapists: On July 14, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation released a statement of support for the findings of a new Institute of Medicine report about improving access to oral health care for vulnerable children and families. The report cites Alaska’s dental health aide/therapist (DHA/T) program as a positive example of how improved access to dental care is being provided in areas where few dentists practice. The statement notes that the DHA/T program already has been approved for use in Minnesota, while Oregon recently passed legislation for a pilot project. Communities in Kansas, New Mexico, Ohio, Vermont and Washington also are trying to add DHA/Ts to their local dental care teams. SEARHC currently has two DHTs (the top level) on staff — Brian James in Sitka and Dan Kennedy in Klawock. Two SEARHC Dental employees started DHT training in July at the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium in Anchorage (Savannah Bonorden of Sitka and Cora Roberts of Hoonah). Back to top BHA/P program leads to new behavioral health credentials: SEARHC behavioral health clinicians and community family service workers (CFSWs) now can earn new credentials as behavioral health aides/practitioners (BHA/Ps). The BHA/P program is unique to Alaska and it is a new system for providing behavioral health care services with the Alaska Tribal Health System and the nation. The statewide program is modeled after the community health aide/practitioner (CHA/P) and dental health aide/therapist (DHA/T) programs, which train local residents to provide services and offer multiple certification levels. There are three levels of behavioral health aide — BHA I, II and III, with BHA I being the entry level certification — and the behavioral health practitioner (BHP) is the top level for the program. SEARHC Community Family Services staff who earns BHA/P credentials will retain their CFSW or clinician job titles, but they will pick up the added certification for their new competencies. So far Sally Caldwell, Gary Weglarz, Lenora Walker and Jan Hotze have earned the BHP credential; ReGina Rioux, Dinah Aceveda, Anna Trudeau, Merry Armin, Ben Didrickson, Barbara Mercer, Toni Weber and Justin McDonald have earned BHA III credentials; and Elena Martin has earned a BHA II credential. To learn more about the statewide BHA/P program, go to http://www.anthc.org/chs/behavioral/. Back to top AFHCAN celebrates 100,000th telehealth visit: The Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium’s (ANTHC) AFHCAN Telehealth Solutions telemedicine program recently hit a major landmark, recording its 100,000th telehealth case within the Alaska Tribal Health System. AFHCAN (Alaska Federal Health Care Access Network) technology allows health care professionals located at the Alaska Native Medical Center (ANMC) in Anchorage to see and treat patients in Alaska’s rural communities. AFHCAN began documenting cases in 2001. AFHCAN has improved health care for Alaska Natives and Alaskans around the state and helps make patient care more efficient by cutting down on wait times to see specialists. It’s also saved Alaskans and the Tribal Health System more than $6 million annually in travel expenses and strengthened ANTHC through telehealth services reimbursements. AFHCAN was originally created to help Alaskans, but as people in remote locations around the world make use of telemedicine, AFHCAN supports their efforts with hardware, software and training, as well. Alaska and the Lower 48 Indian Health Service sites have more than 400 AFHCAN carts and 60 servers in use. Most recently, AFHCAN’s commercial distributor confirmed a sale of 35 carts to the Maldives, an island nation to the southwest of India. AFHCAN’s tConsult software is even working in outer space — it was recently used in an international space station by the Canadian Space Agency. Back to top Klawock to raise five totems on Aug. 4-6: Klawock will host totem pole raising ceremonies for five different poles on Thursday-Saturday, Aug. 4-6, at Klawock Totem Park. The poles to be raised include the raven-bullhead, raven-woodworm, flicker pole, murre bird pole and raven-whale totem poles. Details are being announced for the ceremonies, so watch for more information posted on the “Klawock Totem Raising” page on Facebook, check for fliers posted around town or contact Leslie Isaacs with the City of Klawock for more details. Donations of traditional foods for the banquets are being accepted at Klawock City Hall, but call 755-2261 first to arrange for someone to be there to put the seafood and other donations in the freezer. Back to top Free health screenings offered during Klawock totem pole raisings in August: SEARHC Health Promotion will offer free health screenings Aug. 4-5 in conjunction with the Klawock totem pole raisings. The screening measures blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels. The health screenings will be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 4, and from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 5, at the Klawock School modulars next to ANB Hall. Be on the lookout for advertising as the big event draws near, or call June May at 755-4959 to arrange an appointment. Back to top Regards, Roald