A canoe journey to Celebration 2012: This past weekend, I was fortunate to join the SEARHC Behavioral Health/Suicide Prevention Program in the SEARHC canoe Toowú Latséen (Inner Strength) for the first part of the canoe journey from Kake to Juneau for Celebration 2012. This canoe was one of two SEARHC-sponsored canoes to take part in the journey, with the other representing the Wrangell WISEFAMILIES Through Customary and Traditional Knowledge Program. Unfortunately, I had to leave the canoe journey early, so I could travel to Anchorage to meet with the Rasmuson Foundation and then to Sitka. But it was exciting to see how the canoes (the trip started with four boats and finished with seven) were received by hundreds of people when they arrived in Auke Bay on Wednesday. The canoe journey and Celebration are great, healthy ways to keep us connected to our traditional cultures.
SEARHC summer intern program participants named: Six young Alaska Natives are learning about health care and working at SEARHC this summer as part of the SEARHC Summer Internship Program for Natives. This year’s summer interns include three college and three high school students, and two of the participants were in the program last year. The three college students are Caitlyn Way of Sitka and Fort Lewis College, who is working in physical therapy with S’áxt’ Hít Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital; Trinna Wick of Sitka and the University of Alaska Southeast-Sitka Campus, who is working in nursing with S’áxt’ Hít Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital; and Krista Bontrager of Juneau-Douglas High School and UAS-Juneau Campus, who is working in medical records/patient access with the Ethel Lund Medical Center. The three high school students are Shaenel Gamble of Angoon and Tiadola Silva of Angoon, who are both working at the Jessie Norma Jim Health Center; and Sara Carle of Klawock, who is working at the Alicia Roberts Medical Center. This is the second year of the program, and Caitlyn and Shaenel both participated last year.
SEARHC hosts Alaska Breast and Cervical Health Partnership meeting in Sitka: The Alaska Breast and Cervical Health Partnership met June 6-7 at the SEARHC At Kaník Hít Community Health building in Sitka for the group’s annual meeting and training. This is a partnership of five federally funded Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Programs in Alaska (Arctic Slope Native Association, Southcentral Foundation, SEARHC, State of Alaska Breast and Cervical Health Check, and Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corp). They are all funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to ensure women who need breast and cervical health screening services can get them. One of the highlights of the training was a presentation by David Landis, Jim Licko and Ramonna Robinson on “How to Use and Evaluate Social Media Effectively.” For more information about the partnership, go to https://www.facebook.com/alaskabreastandcervicalhealthpartnership.
SEARHC hires longtime Haines behavioral health provider: The SEARHC Community Family Services program has hired longtime Haines behavioral health clinician Emily Zimbrich, LPC, CDC II, to provide behavioral health services for our patients in Haines. Emily was born in Juneau and attended grade school and high school in Haines (her mother, Hazel Englund, age 95, was born in Haines). Emily holds a Master of Clinical Christian Counseling from Cornerstone University in Lake Charles, La. She is a licensed professional counselor (LPC) and chemical dependency counselor II (CDC II) with the State of Alaska. She also was appointed to the Alaska Board of Professional Counseling in 2006 and renewed in 2010, and has been the board’s vice-chair for the past four years. In 1996, Emily founded and served as director of Impact Counseling Services Inc. in Haines. She also has worked as a residential treatment counselor for adolescent girls in Wyoming, and worked briefly with Lynn Canal Counseling in Haines and has done contract work for other mental health agencies. Emily has vast experience working in foster care for troubled youth, residential treatment for adolescent girls and private practice. She is a member of the Haines Historical Society and is active in her church community. She also enjoys biking, fishing, camping and berry-picking.
June is National Men’s Health Month and June 11-17 is National Men’s Health Week: We hear a lot about health care for women, elders and children, but sometimes men’s health care is ignored. This is one reason men live an average of five years less than women. Men grow up with the idea that they should tough out an injury or ailment, but that can lead to bigger problems later. Men need to get regular check-ups and take care of their health, just like everybody else. In most families, the man is the main income-earner. When he can’t work due to an illness or injury, that can cause major changes for the family as the wife and/or kids have to go to work to keep food on the table and a roof over the head. Men also have certain medical conditions that women don’t have, such as prostate and testicular cancers. Please join us this month in encouraging our men to schedule their regular or semi-regular check-up. To learn more about the importance of men’s health, the Men’s Health Network has a free 70-plus-page booklet called the “Blueprint for Men’s Health” that you can download from this link, http://www.menshealthnetwork.org/blueprint/index.htm.
POW Health Network hires new executive director: Longtime Ketchikan resident Gretchen Klein has been hired as the new executive director of the Prince of Wales Health Network, a coalition of health providers on Prince of Wales Island (including SEARHC) looking to provide better health care to island residents. A lifelong Alaskan, Gretchen grew up in many rural areas in Southeast Alaska, so she is very aware with the problems of receiving health care services in a remote location. A graduate of The Pennsylvania State University (where she ran track and cross country), Gretchen holds a Bachelor of Science degree in commercial recreation, park and tourism management, with an emphasis on business. Over the past 25 years, Gretchen has worked for a variety of health care, tourism and regional development programs in Ketchikan, and she also has been active in the diabetes community. Gretchen recently moved to POW from Ketchikan, and she said she looks forward to joining the arts, running/walking club, hiking and gardening communities.
SEARHC patient advocates serve as customer liaisons: SEARHC has three patient advocate positions in Southeast Alaska — Bryan Whitson (Sitka), Cyndi Reeves (POW), and our Juneau position is temporarily vacant — who serve as customer service liaisons between patients and SEARHC, and help patients navigate their way through SEARHC’s health system. In addition, the Alaska Native Medical Center provides Anchorage-based patient advocates who serve patients from around the state receiving care at the Alaska Native Medical Center. Patients living in Sitka, Angoon, Kake, Pelican, Tenakee Springs, Yakutat, Petersburg and Wrangell should contact Bryan Whitson at 966-8860. Patients in Klawock, Craig, Hydaburg, Kasaan, Thorne Bay and other POW communities should contact Cyndi Reeves at 755-4983 (965-0040, cell). Since our Juneau position is vacant, patients in Juneau, Haines, Skagway, Klukwan and Hoonah should contact Cyndi until we can hire a new Juneau patient advocate (use Cyndi’s numbers above or the Juneau patient advocate’s number of 463-6656, which will be routed to Cyndi). Patients traveling to Anchorage for care should contact the ANMC patient advocates at 729-3990.
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.
SEARHC provides 24/7 on-call travel coordinators for patients traveling for care: SEARHC has a 24/7 on-call travel coordinator to assist patients needing after-hours help while traveling for a medical appointment. The on-call staff person helps patients find new connections when a plane is diverted by weather, or assists with late-night housing. For assistance, call 1-800-916-8566 (toll-free in Alaska) or 1-907-966-8345 in Sitka, and then follow the prompts. To help us better help you, please call as soon as you know your travel schedule has been changed. For patients needing assistance from the Community Resources Program (contract health), such as emergency health care while traveling, call 1-866-966-8316 (toll-free).
Charles Clement SEARHC President/CEO