President’s Update for June 14, 2013

In this edition...

ANTHC Fall Scholarship program and application

I wanted to let you know that ANTHC has opened the Scholarship application process for the fall term. They will be awarding 5 scholarships up to $5,000 each.

Scholarships are available for Alaska Native or American Indians who are:

  • Permanent Alaska residents
  • Interested in working in the healthcare field
  • Currently enrolled in a formal education or training program

The deadline is July 15th. Please spread the word about this wonderful opportunity. The scholarship packet can be accessed through the following link:

Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital Joint Commission Focused Life Safety Assessment

Life Safety standards for Joint Commission accreditation have a large role in how surveyors evaluate our ability to provide healthcare services. Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital recently underwent an intensive three-day Joint Commission focused Life Safety assessment in partnership with the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC). John Blankenship, MEH Facility manager, Valerie Herrera, SEARHC Safety Program Manager, Keith Cook, Institutional Environmental Health Manager, and Eric Hanssen, Senior Health Facilities Engineer, spent three days not just checking and verifying operation of the Life Safety features we can see when we enter the hospital, like automatic closing doors, paths of egress, and fire extinguishers but also those features all around us like smoke and fire barriers that are often not seen.

The intensive assessment was an internal review of MEH compliance with Life Safety standards. Importantly, the internal review also facilitated a real-time update to the Life Safety drawings needed during the Joint Commission survey scheduled this year. The updated drawings will accurately document how our building is designed to protect our occupants on every floor. ANTHC Lead Computer Aided Design (CAD) Technician, Thomas Hoellering is actively using all information collected during the assessment and consulting with all participants to ensure the drawings are the most accurate representation to date. We anticipate a formal release of the updated Life Safety drawings shortly and staff training soon to follow. If you have any questions please contact Valerie Herrera, SEARHC Safety Program Manager.

Ken Hoyt brings 'Haa Taayí' to Wrangell garden

Wednesday a story ran in the Wrangell Sentinel about “Traditional Tlingit gardening being implemented at Wrangell’s Community Garden, under the auspices of Southeast Regional Health Consortium natural foods expert Ken Hoyt”.

In the past year, Ken has introduced a variety of projects to the Natives and non-Natives of Wrangell, including a smokehouse at the Community Garden, a set of raised beds and a greenhouse. His newest program, “Haa Taayí” or “our garden,” brings back the Tlingit gardening heritage. Pre-contact Tlingit people had tobacco, potatoes, and other cultivated indigenous plants. Potatoes are being planted now, and later they will be moved to private residence gardens or greenhouses. Spuds are being grown at Old Town and Ken is working with the teenage Head Start program so they will have something to harvest.

Wrangell will host a multi-tribal gathering of traditional food experts next week. Members of Alaska Native and Lower 48 tribes will meet at the Nolan Center. The event begins Monday, June 17. For more information call Ken Hoyt at 874-2712.

State health officials confirmed a case of PSP near Ketchikan

Greg Wilkinson of the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services said that a woman was hospitalized one day after Memorial Day. She had eaten cockles and clams collected on Gravina Island and within minutes experienced numb lips, followed by tingling in the fingers and toes and numbness from feet to knees. She was treated and released at the hospital.

Early signs of paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) often include tingling of the lips and tongue. Symptoms may progress to tingling of fingers and toes, then loss of control of arms and legs, followed by difficulty breathing. Death can result in as little as two hours.

All locally harvested shellfish — including clams, mussels, oysters, geoducks and scallops — can contain paralytic shellfish poison. Crabmeat is not known to contain the PSP toxin, but crab guts can contain unsafe levels of toxin and should be discarded. There is no way to tell if a beach is safe for harvesting by looking at it. Toxins can be present in large amounts even if the water looks clear. Also, the toxin can remain in shellfish long after the algae bloom is over. PSP cannot be cooked, cleaned or frozen out of shellfish. Commercially grown shellfish is tested and considered safe.

Paralytic shellfish poisoning is considered a public health emergency. Suspected cases must be reported immediately to the Section of Epidemiology by health care providers at 907-269-8000 during work hours or 800-478-0084 after hours. For more information on PSP go to:, or

SEARHC 4th Annual Sobriety Picnic

The Fourth Annual Sobriety Picnic will be held at Sandy Beach on Wednesday July 3rd. The shelter is reserved from 12 pm to 8pm. SEARHC staff are planning on being there by 11am. They will begin cooking at 3pm and stay until whenever they finish. Hot dogs, hamburgers and snacks will be provided. There will be games, prizes for the kids and for various lengths of sobriety. Please bring your favorite dishes to share and beverages (alcohol free of course) so all will enjoy lots of food and fun.

Knowing how hard it is for people to stay sober we want to provide a safe and sober activity for the holiday. We are offering games and prizes for the children and sober fellowship for adults. Please call Toni Weber with any questions at 463-6670.

Charles Clement
Charles Clement President/CEO
3100 Channel Drive, Ste. 300
Juneau, AK 99801
(907) 463-4000

Just a reminder...