President’s Update for May 14, 2011

In this edition...

In this edition … Ethel Lund Medical Center has its busiest month: The Ethel Lund Medical Center had a record-breaking March. The clinic set monthly records for patient visits, lab tests, prescriptions, Bartlett Regional Hospital discharges and more. We had 3,819 total patient encounters in March (up from 2,914 in February and 3,051 in January), even though we were down in specialty clinic visits. Other departments with significantly higher encounters this fiscal year include optometry, physical therapy, nutrition, radiology, laboratory and pharmacy. Please join me in expressing our gratitude for our excellent staff members that work hard toward our mission each month. Back to top SEARHC Consortium Directory posted online: This week the SEARHC Consortium Directory was posted on our website, http://www.searhc.org/. The directory is designed to help patients learn more about the services and providers available in their communities. The directory will be a living document, constantly changing as we add more information about our services and make updates to our provider list and programs. We also plan to add links to other sites that provide reputable information about health and wellness topics that influence our region and Alaska. This is the first phase in a longer-term project that will make our website more user-friendly for a patients and customers. Back to top Alaska Native Health Board and Alaska Tribal Health Directors meet: The Alaska Native Health Board (ANHB) and Alaska Tribal Health Directors (ATHD) met last week in Fairbanks as guests of the Tanana Chiefs Conference (TCC). Reports were provided from several sub-committees, including the Alaska Native Tobacco Advisory Committee, CHAP Directors, EpiCenter Advisory group, Government Performance Results Act (GPRA) / Improving Patient Care (IPC), Health Information Technology, Medicaid Task Force, Rural Alaska Sanitation Coalition (RASC) and Tribal Behavioral Health Directors. In addition to committee reports, members reviewed the strategic plan outcomes for the past years and discussed plans to finalize the next strategic plan. ANHB passed a motion to work collaboratively on upcoming regulations for the Affordable Care Act. The Board adopted a motion requesting the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium to dramatically increase housing for patients, improve referral systems, and develop assurances on service levels at ANMC and specialty care that travels from ANMC to our regions. Back to top Alicia Roberts Medical Center recruitment update: The Alicia Roberts Medical Center is recruiting for provider vacancies. We want to assure our patients that they will receive their usual high quality of care at the clinic. While SEARHC recruits to fill the vacancies, temporary providers will fill in until the permanent providers are hired. We will make every effort to use temporary providers with previous experience at ARMC that are already familiar with the patients and community. We also hope to have the temporary providers stay as long as possible for continuity of care. Temporary providers will focus on acute or sudden onset care so our permanent providers can offer appointments for ongoing or chronic care. Also, we also are recruiting for our first POW-based optometrist. We had two behavioral health clinician vacancies at ARMC and we have been using temporary clinicians (including staff from other SEARHC clinics) to fill in. We hired a behavioral health clinician who starts May 30 and will serve as the behavioral health supervisor on POW. We are recruiting for the other clinician position. Again, we hope this transition period is short and we remain committed to providing the highest quality of health care possible. Back to top Contract Support Cost litigation update: As you know, SEARHC is in litigation for the IHS’s continual nonpayment of contract support costs (CSC) owed to SEARHC under the Indian Self Determination and Education Assistance Act (ISDEAA). SEARHC’s cases continue to be stayed while other national test cases proceed forward. Last December one of the test cases received a tremendous setback when the U.S. Court of Appeals for Federal Circuit ruled against the Arctic Slope Native Association. At the time, this decision seemed certain to be a setback for SEARHC’s claims. However, today that setback does not seem quite as dire. Another test case in a different circuit court of appeals ruled in favor of tribes. In the Ramah Navajo litigation, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the tribes. This split between U.S. Courts of Appeals makes it more likely that the U.S. Supreme Court will resolve the issues. Supreme Court review is far from certain, but the victory in the Ramah case makes the possibility of Supreme Court review more favorable. Should the Supreme Court grant review, the possibility exists that the setback dealt to the Arctic Slope Native Association could be reversed. SEARHC’s claims sit in a far better posture as a result of this victory even though none of our claims are directly related to the Ramah litigation. SEARHC’s litigation counsel, Lloyd Miller, is also handling the Ramah litigation. Back to top Nurses at S’áxt’ Hít Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital select nurses of the year: The nursing staff at S’áxt’ Hít Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital voted and six nurses (one from each department) were honored Wednesday, May 11, with Nurse of the Year honors. The awards were part of the hospital’s National Nurses Week celebration. The winners were Rosario Gutierrez, RN-C, of Obstetrical Surgical Services; Florimel Raquel, LPN, of Acute Medical Services; Laura Buehler, RN, of Perioperative Services/Operating Room; Jennifer Patrick, RN, of Critical Care Services; Lisa Brooks, RN, Outpatient Department/Nurses Clinic; and Mary Watkins, RN, Emergency Room. The nurses also presented Hospital Administrator Norma Perkins with a Honorary Director of Nursing award. National Nurses Week (May 6-12) events in Sitka included a free barbecue lunch, four lunch-and-learns about various health care topics, massages, a scavenger hunt and drawings for prizes. The nurses at the SEARHC Ethel Lund Medical Center in Juneau and at the SEARHC Health Center were treated to a special luncheon, while the nurses at the SEARHC Alicia Roberts Medical Center had a special dessert with their co-workers. Back to top POW Health Network receives network development grant: The Prince of Wales Health Network, which includes SEARHC among its members, recently was awarded a Rural Health Network Development Grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Office of Rural Health Policy. The grant is for $180,000 per year for up to three years, totaling $540,000, and runs from May 1, 2011, to April 30, 2014. This funding will allow the Prince of Wales Health Network to continue facilitating collaboration in health care on Prince of Wales Island. The Prince of Wales Health Network is a collaborative effort between the SEARHC Alicia Roberts Medical Center, PeaceHealth Medical Group Prince of Wales, State of Alaska Craig Public Health Center and Alaska Island Community Services Tideline Clinic. There were 125 health networks that applied for this funding, but only 20 grants were awarded. Back to top SEARHC earns 2011 Sitka Green Business Award at platinum level: This week, the SEARHC Sitka campus was honored with a 2011 Sitka Green Business Award at the platinum level by the Sitka Global Warming Group and Sustainable Sitka. This is the second year SEARHC has been honored with a Sitka Green Business Award. Last year we were at the bronze level. The Sitka Global Warming Group and Sustainable Sitka developed a list of 30-40 green practices, such as recycling, providing covered bike parking, energy conservation, composting, supporting local foods, having a Green Team, etc. Businesses were honored at the bronze level (1-3 green practices), silver (4-6), gold (7-9) and platinum levels (10 or more green practices). Back to top Regards, Roald