President’s Update for May 4, 2012

In this edition...

In this edition …

SEARHC signs agreement with VA to provide local care for veterans: SEARHC is one of 14 Alaska Native tribal health programs to sign an agreement with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that will allow Alaska veterans living in rural communities to seek health care closer to home. The Alaska VA Healthcare System has very few clinics in Alaska (Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau and Kenai). Even though many Alaska Native/American Indian veterans living in rural Alaska had access to a tribal health facility in their community, they frequently had to travel to one of the Alaska VA clinics or even Seattle, sometimes at their own expense, in order to receive care from the Veterans Health Administration. This agreement will allow eligible veterans (those who have registered for VA benefits) to receive care in their home community through SEARHC, without having to travel or take time off work. It also allows SEARHC to be reimbursed by the VA for providing that care. Under the agreement, non-Native veterans also will be able to receive care at the participating tribal health facilities. In order to be eligible to receive VA care through SEARHC, veterans need to be enrolled with the Veterans Health Administration. SEARHC has staff who are trained to help veterans get enrolled for VA health care services. There are four employees who are coordinating VA enrollment services at SEARHC — Juanita DeRose (364-4465) for SEARHC patients in Juneau, Judy Mills (966-8307) and Michael Lang (966-8488) for Sitka patients, and Nellie Kookesh (966-8814) for patients who live in our other SEARHC communities. Please contact your local SEARHC health care facility if you have any questions.

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SEARHC offers Community Transformation Grant sub-awards: The SEARHC Community Transformation Grant program is offering sub-award grants to community groups in Southeast Alaska interested in improving the health of their communities. The national Community Transformation Grant program, which includes SEARHC, is funded by the Affordable Care Act’s Prevention and Public Health Fund. The program is expected to run for five years and reach more than one in three U.S. citizens — about 120 million Americans. According to the funding objectives, projects should be policy-driven and have a well-planned strategy to address at least one of the three focus issues — tobacco-free living; active living and healthy eating; and high-impact quality clinical and other preventive services to prevent and control high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Grant amounts will vary depending on the project and the number of people served. Organizations can choose to apply for grants of $5,000, $10,000, $15,000 or $24,750. If funding allows, SEARHC expects to offer the chance to apply for sub-awards every year until 2016. Proposals for 2012 are due by June 1. Only one proposal per group will be considered. For more information and to get a copy of the Request For Proposal, contact Martha Pearson at 966-8783 or martha.pearson@searhc.org.

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SEARHC honors nurses during National Nurses Week: For their ability to save lives and maintain the health of their patients, SEARHC is pleased to honor the work of its nurses during National Nurses Week, an annual event that traditionally starts on May 6, National Nurses Day, and ends on May 12, the birthday of the founder of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale. This year’s theme, selected by the American Nurses Association, is “Nurses: Advocating, Leading, Caring.” SEARHC employs more than 120 registered nurses (RN); licensed practical nurses (LPN); advanced nurse practitioners (ANP) in family, pediatrics, women’s health and adult specialties; and certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNA). These nurses provide exceptional care to all of the Native and non-Native patients who come to SEARHC facilities throughout Southeast Alaska. More than 60 nurses are employed at S’áxt’ Hít Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital in Sitka, with the rest working at the Ethel Lund Medical Center in Juneau and most of SEARHC’s village clinics. Please join us in recognizing the nurses at SEARHC and thank a nurse for his or her dedication by letting them know “Nurses Rock.”

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SEARHC hosts health discussion and training with Darryl Tonemah: The SEARHC Diabetes program will host noted health and wellness expert Darryl Tonemah, Ph.D., M.Ed., for a panel discussion about “Storytelling as a Tool to Heal.” This free event is open to the community and takes place from 2-5 p.m. on Wednesday, May 9, at the SEARHC At Kaník Hít Community Health building first-floor conference room, 1212 Seward Ave. Dr. Tonemah also will lead an all-day training on motivational interviewing for Sitka health providers, with an emphasis on working with patients who live with diabetes, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday, May 10, at the Harrigan Centennial Hall Rousseau Room, 330 Harbor Dr. This training is being offered in partnership with Sitka Community Hospital Health Promotion. A person of Kiowa/Comanche and Tuscarora heritage, Dr. Tonemah has been a champion for better health among Native people around the country and he has dedicated his professional career to the health and wellness of all Native peoples. He currently works with the National Institutes of Health on diabetes prevention and lifestyle change research among Indian populations. He works with Native groups throughout the United States and Canada. For more information, contact Renae Mathson at 966-8797.

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Walk For Life suicide prevention and awareness events take place on May 12: The SEARHC Behavioral Health/Suicide Prevention Program is joining with 14 Southeast Alaska communities to host local “Walk For Life” suicide prevention events at 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 12. Teams in each community have organized their local events, and community members are encouraged to take part in the free walks. Nearly all of the events start at 1 p.m. on May 12 this year (with registration at 12:30 p.m.), although the Klukwan/Haines event starts at 8 a.m. to combine it with the annual Chilkat River Walk/Run/Ride breast cancer awareness event the same day between those two communities. T-shirts will be available for Walk For Life participants. The theme for the Walk For Life events is to “Live, Laugh, Love: Let’s celebrate life and say ‘No!’ to suicide.” Alaska has one of the highest suicide rates in the country (about double the national average), and the Walk For Life program hopes to help people celebrate life so they don’t think about suicide. Events will take place in Angoon, Craig, Hoonah, Hydaburg, Juneau, Kake, Kasaan, Klawock, Klukwan/Haines, Metlakatla, Sitka, Wrangell and Yakutat. For local event details and contact information, go to http://www.searhc.org/common/pages/pressreleases/detail.php?id=311.

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Chilkat River Walk/Run/Ride breast cancer awareness event from Klukwan to Haines is May 12: The sixth annual Chilkat River Walk/Run/Ride from Klukwan to Haines takes place on Saturday, May 12, to raise funds for the Chilkat Valley Cancer Travel Fund and raise awareness about breast cancer and breast health. This is the second year participants can run or bicycle the course, in addition to walking. The 23-mile walk/run/ride from Klukwan to Haines starts at 8 a.m. at the SEARHC Klukwan Health Center and ends at the Haines School. A bus departs the school at 7:15 a.m. to take participants to the start of the course, along with a trailer to haul your bicycle. There is a second start time at 10 a.m. at 10-Mile for people who want to support the cause, but want to start later and not complete the entire course. The bus departs the school at 9:30 a.m. for the second start. The bus returns to Haines from 10-Mile at noon, and it will have water and be able to pick up people who need to leave the course. This walk/run/ride event is open to all ages and genders. There is a $10 suggested donation that goes to the Chilkat Valley Cancer Travel Fund, which provides a one-time travel stipend for Haines residents diagnosed with cancer. Participants also can obtain pledge sheets for people to gather sponsors. To learn more about the Chilkat River Walk, contact SEARHC’s Kathryn Friedle at 766-6366 or Pam Sloper at 766-6367, or go to http://www.searhc.org/common/pages/pressreleases/detail.php?id=306.

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SEARHC encourages you to take a ride during National Bike Month: May is National Bike Month, and SEARHC is encouraging people to hop on their bikes and take a few rides this month. Biking is a good, healthy way to get around that improves our health and saves us money in gas bills. In addition to May being National Bike Month, there are several other bike-related celebrations this month. The inaugural National Bike to School Day is on Wednesday, May 9; National Bike to Work Week is May 14-18; and National Bike to Work Day is Friday, May 18. SEARHC employees are working with local groups in Sitka, Juneau and Haines to host additional bike events during the month. For more details on events in Sitka, go to http://sitkacycling.wordpress.com/ (scroll down for events story). For details on events in Juneau, go to http://cycleak.com/juneau-freewheelers/ (look for the calendar link). For events in Haines, go to the Haines Bikes page on Facebook. Various events include lunch-and-learn discussions about bike commuting and safety, bike rodeos for kids, a triathlon, bike races, group rides and more. Don’t forget to ride with traffic, use lights and reflectors, and wear a helmet for safety.

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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 summer internship program for Natives: Applications are available for the SEARHC Summer Internship Program, which provides work experience for Alaska Native/American Indian students pursuing careers in health care. The SEARHC Summer Internship Program provides opportunities for six Alaska Native/American Indian students who are studying at the high school, bachelor’s degree and/or master’s degree/clinical level. The program allows participants to explore career options in health care, and the interns receive valuable on-the-job training in their health care career of interest and an hourly stipend. At the end of the program, interns will receive a performance evaluation with valuable feedback from their mentor(s). The application deadline is Friday, May 11 (the application must be received or postmarked by this date), and the final selection of interns takes place on May 21. The internship program runs from June through September 2012. During the program, the interns will work a minimum of 30 hours and a maximum of 40 hours per week under the supervision of a manager at a SEARHC facility. Although an hourly stipend is provided, interns are responsible for their own housing and transportation during the internship program. SEARHC will not provide housing and/or transportation. Completed applications may be mailed to Jessika Beam (966-8903) at SEARHC, c/o Human Resources Department, 222 Tongass Drive, Sitka, AK 99835. Applications also can be faxed to 966-8527, or scanned and e-mailed to jessika.beam@searhc.org. Application packets and additional details are available at Southeast Alaska high school offices, through local tribal organizations or by going to http://searhc.org/students/college_interns.php.

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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