President’s Update for June 30, 2011

In this edition...

In this edition … City of Hoonah transfers land to SEARHC for new clinic: On Wednesday, June 29, the City of Hoonah officially transferred to SEARHC the land deed to a 3.96-acre parcel near the airport. This property will be used to build a new clinic to replace the Hoonah Health Center. This formality moves us closer to building the new clinic, which is a top priority construction project. When the Hoonah Indian Association and the Indian Health Service asked us to take over management of the clinic in 2009, we recognized that a new clinic was required to serve Hoonah’s health needs. The clinic design is completed, our business plan is approved, the SEARHC Board authorized matching funds, and now we have the deed. We submitted the construction application to the Denali Commission as a final step as we are getting closer to breaking ground. We are working with our funding agencies to finalize the project and we are very excited to see the deed transferred to advance the project. The new clinic addresses the long-term health needs of the community. We anticipate that the new site is large enough to expand into the future. Back to top Front Street Clinic budget item makes capital budget: A $75,000 budget item to help SEARHC plan the renovation of the Front Street Clinic escaped the veto pen and was part of the budget signed by Gov. Sean Parnell on Wednesday, June 29. The Front Street Clinic serves Juneau’s homeless residents. We are looking to move the clinic to a new space that will allow us to better integrate the behavioral health and dental services into the clinic. We are looking at a location near the downtown area that will make the clinic more accessible to our patients. This current funding only covers planning and design. Once this process is complete, we still need to secure construction money to convert potential future space into a clinic. Special thanks to our delegation for their work on this project. Back to top White House launches new web page for Native American issues: The White House recently launched a new web page to help tribes navigate the federal government and learn how the president’s agenda is helping Native American people. The page includes discussion of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s impact in Indian Country, the recent settlement in the Cobell court case, the Indian Health Care Improvement Act and other issues involving Native Americans. The link is http://www.whitehouse.gov/nativeamericans/. Back to top CDC site visit for WISEWOMAN program: The SEARHC WISEWOMAN Women’s Health Program received a site visit from its CDC WISEWOMAN project officer this week in Juneau. The project officer informed us that the SEARHC WISEWOMAN program will receive the same funding in FY2012 as it did in FY2011. This level funding is good news. We were worried some of the CDC’s budget cuts at the national level might affect our local programs. As for our re-application technical reviews, we showed continued strong program performance for our WISEWOMAN cardiovascular disease prevention and our women’s cancer screening programs. Back to top ANTHC LEAD program visits SEARHC’s Sitka campus: A group from the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC) LEAD program visited the SEARHC Sitka campus on Monday, June 27. The LEAD (Leadership and Excellence through Advancement and Determination) program is designed to help Alaska Native and Native American employees at ANTHC develop leadership excellence, knowledge and skills so they can advance professionally within the Alaska Tribal Health System. The five participants gave a quick presentation on the ANTHC LEAD program, then Dr. Marty Grasmeder provided a tour of S’áxt’ Hít Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital and Connie Goldhahn provided a tour of the At Kaník Hít Community Health building. At the request of participants, they heard presentations from billing, Yéil Jeeyáx Raven’s Way, Gunaanastí Bill Brady Healing Center, social services, environmental services/facilities and human resources. LEAD is a grow-your-own initiative that provides an opportunity for ANTHC employees to build their skills as managers or future managers. LEAD provides funding for this trip and also for participants to take courses through a college of their choice. The participants receive credit through Alaska Pacific University for participating in the LEAD program. Back to top WIC budget cuts: This week we received our Notice of Grant Award for the regional WIC (Women, Infants and Children) supplemental nutrition grant we run for the State of Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, and our funding is down $11,898 compared to the last fiscal year ($359,953 for FY2011 vs. $348,055 for FY2012). Our WIC staff still is reviewing the grant budget to see how they can minimize the impacts of the grant cuts on staffing and services. There likely will be some minor impacts to the levels we are able to provide. We probably will not know these impacts for a couple of weeks, though. According to the state, this cut anticipates a large cut to the national WIC program for FY2012. The U.S. House of Representatives in early June passed the 2012 Agriculture Appropriations Bill (HR 2112) that cut hundreds of millions of dollars from the national WIC program budget. The bill leaves WIC underfunded by at least $782 million from its budget recommendation for FY2012, and the funding is $686 million less than what WIC received in the FY2011 budget. According to the National WIC Association, these national cuts amount to more than 13 percent cut in WIC food resources and more than 10 percent cut in mission-driven nutrition services funding. This group estimates between 200,000 and 350,000 mothers and young children will be denied essential supplemental foods and other WIC benefits. The bill currently is before the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee. Typically we do not hear this kind of budget info until the end of the fiscal year in September, when the final budget bills are being passed in Congress. Back to top Sen. Begich introduces telemedicine for veterans item during budget talks: This week, Sen. Mark Begich and the other members of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee approved the Veterans Programs Improvement Act, which authorizes a waiver on the collection of co-payments for telehealth and telemedicine visits by veterans. During committee discussion, Sen. Begich said there are about 200 veterans in Alaska enrolled in the Veterans Health Administration’s (VHA) telemedicine program, with about 100 of those living in rural Alaska. These veterans currently have co-payments of up to $50 per telehealth visit. Sen. Begich said he believes waiving the fees may encourage more veterans to use the telehealth programs, which save taxpayer money by eliminating or reducing the need for travel for some services. The act also includes provisions to expand and reauthorize the Veterans Administration to end homelessness among veterans; establish centers of excellence for rural health research, education and clinical activities; and a provision to promote the VA and the Social Security Administration to streamline processes for providing survivor benefits. In addition, Sen. Begich joined a dozen other senators to introduce the Hiring Heroes Act of 2011, which will help military members find jobs when they return from service. Back to top Youth and Elder Connection luncheon is Sunday in Kake: SEARHC Community Family Service Worker Dinah Aceveda is coordinating the Youth and Elder Connection luncheon from 2-5 p.m. on Sunday, July 3, at the Kake Community Hall. This event features grilled hamburgers, hot dogs, potato salad, king salmon and halibut with rice and veggies. There will be gifts for the elders age 65 and older, and door prizes for youth ages 18 and younger. There will be random door prize drawings throughout the event, and you need to be present to win. Please bring chips, salads or desserts to share. Back to top SEARHC partners with Hydaburg Boys and Girls Club to host two safety events: Two safety events were held at the newly re-opened Hydaburg Boys & Girls Club in recent weeks. A Be Safe, Be Seen event offering iron-on reflectors for kids’ and adults’ outerwear and backpacks was held on June 21 and a free helmet give-away was held on June 28. In all, 22 helmets were fitted on youth. These events were a collaboration of the Boys & Girls Club and SEARHC Health Promotion/Injury Prevention. Back to top Wrangell Healing Heart Council hosts memorial dinner: The Wrangell Healing Heart Council will host a memorial dinner on Friday, July 1, at the Wrangell American Legion Hall to honor those community members who walked into the forest this past year. The dinner features fresh venison and other traditional foods, and participants will exchange fire dishes in the memory of those who passed away (including others from before the past year). Traditional dancing is planned after the dinner at the Shakes Island House. Back to top Nationally recognized Native diabetes consultant to speak in Sitka: Nationally recognized Native diabetes consultant Gale Marshall will be in Sitka to give a free presentation to the community at 6 p.m. at the Sheet’ká Kwáan Naa Kahídi (located at 200 Katlian St.). Gale, an Oklahoma Choctaw, is the chair of the American Diabetes Association’s Awakening the Spirit Team, which is one of the ADA’s Native American Initiatives/Programs and works with those organizations involved with the Special Diabetes Program for Indians (which includes the SEARHC Diabetes and Lifestyle Balance programs). Gale’s talk is called, “Diabetes is Only a Word,” and will discuss diabetes prevention, myths, success stories, management and positive outcomes for those living or dealing with diabetes in their families. Back to top Regards, Roald