President’s Update for May 11, 2012

In this edition...

In this edition …

SEARHC receives Tribal Management Grant from Indian Health Service: SEARHC recently was notified that it has received a three-year Tribal Management Grant from the Indian Health Service to support a health management system project. The first year of the grant will be about $150,000, with the second year about $136,000. In recent years, SEARHC has spent several million dollars on best-of-breed software tools to manage patient care, flow, billing and compliance with regulatory requirements. This grant will provide staff from all of our communities with training that will further develop and strengthen our revenue cycle process. One of the key elements of the grant is it will train employees on the initial registration of patients and obtaining sufficient information to increase our ability to bill and collect third-party payment for health care services from private insurance and government programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and VA benefits. By strengthening our patient registration process, SEARHC will be able to maintain and increase the quality of care it provides tribal members throughout the SEARHC region.

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SEARHC receives two grants from the USDA Rural Development Program: The U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Program has given SEARHC two grants (one for FFY2011, the other for FFY2012) to hire a community capacity development specialist who will provide technical training to water and wastewater system workers in the region. The FFY2011 award of $162,000 plans to serve the communities of Klawock, Craig, Hydaburg, Kasaan, Yakutat, Klukwan (Chilkat Indian Village), Hoonah, Angoon and Kake. The FFY2012 award (tentatively $147,200) extends the grant to six more communities — Pelican, Saxman, Metlakatla, Skagway, Wrangell and Haines. The work plan includes possibly extending some of the work from the first year and combining it with the second grant. The community capacity development specialist will work with communities to identify renovation or replacement schedules, maintenance tasks and funding alternatives for aging infrastructure, which are mostly buried water and sewer mains, valves, meters, pumps, cleanouts, manholes and other components. The specialist will travel to the communities to provide training, which will include electronic data recording. The grants also will be used to purchase hardware (field tablet computers) and provide software.

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Lisa Gassman introduced as new HR Director: I would like to take this opportunity to welcome the new Human Resources Director to SEARHC, Alicia “Lisa” Gassman. Lisa has been with SEARHC since September 2011, when she was hired as the professional services administrator at S’áxt’ Hít Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital. Prior to joining SEARHC, Ms. Gassman worked for the Sitka Tribe of Alaska for 12 years as the general Manager and the law and trust director. Lisa has a Bachelor of Art degree in political science from Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colo., and a Juris Doctorate degree in law from the University of Washington Law School. She is a licensed attorney in the state of Washington. Lisa will be based in Sitka and her office is located at 225 Tongass Drive (the small HR building across the street from the hospital).

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Bartlett Beginnings Lactation Clinic no longer charging for outpatient lactation clinic services: Due to changes in its billing rules, the Bartlett Beginnings Lactation Clinic recently notified SEARHC that it is no longer charging for outpatient lactation clinic services. SEARHC providers were informed they should feel free to refer patients regardless of their health insurance status. The Bartlett lactation clinic is staffed with nurses who have the IBCLC (Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant) credentials. This credential requires a health degree, a seven-hour exam, 80 hours of continuing education in lactation, and more than 1,000 hours of experience helping women learn how to breastfeed. In addition, several Bartlett nurses also hold a CLC (Certified Lactation Counselor) credential, as do two of the doulas as the Juneau Family Birth Center and with the SEARHC WIC (Women, Infants, Children) supplemental nutrition program. The CLC credential features a one-week course about basic breastfeeding support issues.

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Kake sets record for mobile mammograms: The mobile mammogram van set a record with 55 mammograms given during its four-day visit May 1-4 to the Kake Health Center. This broke the previous record of 48 mammograms set in 2007. Kudos to the Kake Health Center staff for all their work preparing for this visit.

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S’áxt’ Hít Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital honors its nurses of the year: The SEARHC S’áxt’ Hít Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital honored its nurses during National Nurses Week May 6-12 by naming its 2011-12 nurses of the year after a halibut dinner May 7 for the nurses. Honored were Sabrina Shell, RN, of Community Health Care Services; Hannah Nelson, LPN, of Outpatient/Urgent Care; Mindi Tysor, RN, of Emergency Room/Critical Care Services; John Ericson, RN, of Perioperative/Surgery Department; Kathleen Foster, RN, of Obstetrics Surgical Services; and Shannah Rust, RN, of Acute Medical Services. Also recognized as honorary nurses were Doug Osborne of Health Promotion and S’áxt’ Hít Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital Health Systems Specialist Supervisor Denise Hodnett. The current nurse management team of Grace Roller, Tonia Hewitt, Ed Gonzalez, Sonja Conner and TW Hull was honored with Kutx Ayanahá employee recognition certificates for “teamwork” and “going above and beyond.”

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SEARHC hosts Mother’s Day 5K Walk/Run in Sitka: The SEARHC WISEWOMAN Women’s Health Program and the U.S. Office of Women’s Health are hosting the annual Mother’s Day 5-kilometer Walk/Run event in Sitka. The event takes place at 9 a.m. on Saturday, May 12, at Harrigan Centennial Hall (registration at 8:30 a.m.). This event is free and open to all, and all mothers will receive a gift bag that includes a 10-percent-off coupon to the Bayview Restaurant Mother’s Day brunch on Sunday, May 13.

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State of Washington declares pertussis (whooping cough) epidemic: The worst outbreak of pertussis (whooping cough) in the state of Washington in decades has gotten so bad that state health officials recently declared an epidemic and sought help from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. So far in 2012, Washington has 10 times the cases it saw for 2011. California and Wisconsin also have reported a significantly higher number of cases of pertussis than normal. Pertussis is known as whooping cough because of the \"whooping\" sound people often make while gasping for air after a coughing fit. A highly contagious bacterial disease, it starts off like a cold but leads to severe coughing that can last for weeks. In rare cases, it can be fatal. Many people consider pertussis to be a child’s disease, but many adults do get it and it is recommended that adults and teens get booster shots to prevent the spread of the disease, especially if they live with infants. Since many Alaskans travel through Washington, it is advised adults get a Tdap booster (which protects against tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis) before their trip. Most children receive pertussis vaccines as part of their school shot program. But according to the Associated Press, fewer than one in 10 adults has received a Tdap booster (introduced in 2005) and many don’t know the booster shots are needed.

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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. Also, 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 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 ANMC patient advocates at 729-3990.

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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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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).

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Charles Clement SEARHC President/CEO