President’s Update for Nov. 16, 2012

In this edition...

In this edition …

SEARHC lists Community Transformation Grant sub-award winners: The SEARHC Community Transformation Grant program will make seven sub-award grants worth $95,000 to community groups in Southeast Alaska interested in improving the health of their communities. A total of 15 applications from various community groups around the region were submitted by the Oct. 19 deadline. A seven-member review board comprised of SEARHC, Alaska Department of Health and Human Services and rural community representatives completed the difficult task of reviewing and scoring the applications. According to the funding objectives, projects should be population-based 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. Sub-award grants ranging from $5,000 to $24,750 were available. The applications that showed definite links to sustainable organizational practices, such as school curricula and institutional meal guidelines, were scored the highest. The SEARHC Community Transformation Grant sub-award winners for Fiscal Year 2013 are:

  • Alaska Breastfeeding Coalition will expand education for worksite breastfeeding iniatives in Juneau and the region.
  • Takshanuk Watershed Council will develop ways to increase access to local produce and seafood in Haines by developing community awareness and sourcing local foods for institutional meals.
  • The Craig School District will develop its school nutrition curricula around fruits and vegetables while strengthening the local school garden.
  • Petersburg Mental Health Services and the Sitka Local Foods Network will engage their local communities in extensive community planning around food and health needs (these are two separate projects doing similar work).
  • Brave Heart Volunteers will take the lead on connecting health- and human-service-related organizations in Sitka to most efficiently meet community needs.
  • The Wrangell School District will develop a new school nutrition practice that requires scratch-cooked, healthier meals for students.

The next round of applications for Fiscal Year 2014 will be solicited in the late summer 2013. If funding allows, SEARHC expects to offer the chance to apply for sub-awards every year until 2016. For more information, contact Martha Pearson at 966-8783 or martha.pearson@searhc.org.

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Two more tribes go tobacco-free in Southeast Alaska: Momentum for statewide tobacco-free workplaces continues to spread in Alaska. The SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) congratulates the Skagway Tribal Council and the Chilkat Indian Village (Klukwan) for recently adopting local, comprehensive tobacco-free workplace resolutions. The tribes join the growing number of 13 Southeast and 36 statewide Alaska tribes that have already passed local smoke-free and tobacco-free policies. This tribal movement for tobacco-free workplaces was sparked by the Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN) and the Alaska Native Brotherhood/Alaska Native Sisterhood Grand Camp delegates, who in 2011 unanimously supported a statewide smoke-free workplace resolution. In Southeast Alaska, 88 percent of Alaska Native people have smoke-free rules in their homes, and about 88 percent believe that smoking should never be allowed in work places. Yet, about twice as many Alaska Native adults still work at unprotected workplaces compared to non-Native adults. A significant amount of secondhand smoke exposure occurs in workplaces, bingo halls, and other public places. Secondhand smoke exposure has known immediate adverse health effects on the heart and blood vessels and contributes to preventable illness and premature death. For more information about passing local tobacco free policies, please contact SEARHC Tobacco Program Manager Andrea Thomas at 966-8883 or andrea.thomas@searhc.org, or contact SEARHC Health Educator Edy Rodewald at 364-4452 or edy.rodewald@searhc.org.

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Jessika Beam presents at Pathways Into Health conference: SEARHC Tribal Recruitment Coordinator Jessika Beam recently attended the Pathways Into Health conference in Rapid City, S.D. She also presented on health career development; challenges, barriers and successes of Natives progressing in the professional world; and on her experiences as an Alaska Native professional and student. Pathways Into Health is a grassroots collaboration dedicated to improving the health, health care, and healthcare education of American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN). It is combining the expertise, resources, and strength of tribes and AI/AN organizations, tribal colleges, prominent universities, the Indian Health Service, and American Indian and Alaska Native communities as they work together to solve a major problem that exists today — the shortage of AI/AN health care professionals.

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SEARHC WIC office in Juneau to cover for Ketchikan/POW WIC offices: Starting on Monday, Nov. 19 and running until further notice, all SEARHC WIC (Women, Infants, Children) supplemental nutrition program services for our Ketchikan and Prince of Wales Island clients will be handled by our SEARHC WIC office in Juneau. Please mail all completed applications with measurements (height, weight and iron hemoglobin counts) to the SEARHC WIC office in Juneau, at SEARHC WIC Program, 3245 Hospital Dr., Juneau, Alaska, 99801. For more information, the phone number is 1-907-463-4099 or (toll-free) 1-800-330-2229. The fax number is 1-907-463-6672.

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Kake hosts community walk Friday for a variety of causes: Two of our Kake Health Center programs (Health Promotion and Behavioral Health/Suicide Prevention) teamed up with the Kake City School District to host a short community walk for a variety of causes. The short walk in the rain on Friday, Nov. 16, featured 76 extra tough walkers (students, teachers, veterans and community members). This was Kake’s annual “Just Move It” walk for Honoring Our Veterans and for diabetes awareness (November is National Diabetes Awareness Month). This year we also called it a Walk for Life, since International Survivors of Suicide Day is Saturday, Nov. 17. The “Just Move It” program is a national diabetes prevention program geared toward Alaska Natives and American Indians.

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SEARHC Front Street Clinic seeks gloves, hats for homeless patients: Front Street Clinic is accepting donations of warm socks, insulated thick gloves, winter hats, Thermacare heat wraps and other items to help out the homeless patients served by the clinic. The clinic also will accept gift cards to stores where these winter items can be purchased. Due to limited storage space, Front Street Clinic can't accept winter coats at this time, but donations of clean coats, parkas and sleeping bags can be taken to the Glory Hole homeless shelter. Janna Brewster, a nurse practitioner who manages the Front Street Clinic, said the change of season and Juneau’s colder weather prompted the request. She said the Thermacare heat wraps last a long time, and they can be used to keep people warm and prevent hypothermia. She said gift cards to Wal-Mart, Costco or Fred Meyer will help the clinic purchase extra socks, gloves and hats. The clinic also accepts toiletry items (soap, combs, toothbrushes, toothpaste, feminine products, etc.), reading glasses and other small items. Front Street Clinic was founded in 2003 and is funded by a federal grant with the mission to provide Juneau’s homeless population with needed medical, dental and behavioral health care. The clinic treats those who live in the streets, at the Glory Hole, are couch-surfing, living in tents, or living in transitional housing provided by groups such as St. Vincent de Paul, AWARE, Gastineau Human Services, etc. Front Street Clinic is located in the Suite 202 of the Miner’s Mercantile Building, 225 Front St., in downtown Juneau. The clinic’s phone number is 463-4201.

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Kake completes another 10-week WELL-Balanced class to prevent elder falls: We recently finished another 10-week WELL-Balanced class in Kake. WELL-Balanced (WELL stands for Wise Elders Living Longer) is a national program from the National Resource Center on Native American Aging (at the University of North Dakota) designed to help Native elders learn how to prevent falls by providing strength and balance training, education on how to find and remove fall hazards, and more. These classes, which ended in October, took place at the Kake Senior Center and were led by SEARHC Health Educator Georgie Davis-Gastelum, along with community members Lori Moore and Margo Wilson. The elders learned how to work out with stretchy bands to improve their balance, strength and flexibility. They also had trained staff observe their gaits, to see if there were any corrections that can be made to improve their balance. They also learned how to go through their homes and workplaces to spot and avoid trip hazards, such as loose carpets, boxes blocking the hall, wet floors, etc. The WELL-Balanced program is operated in several Southeast communities by the SEARHC Diabetes and SEARHC Injury Prevention programs. Contact Renae Mathson at 966-8797 for more information.

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Just a reminder …

SEARHC now has a page on Facebook: If you haven’t already done so, please check out SEARHC’s new page on Facebook. This page will provide people with updates about what’s happening around the consortium. This page is new, so it will be adding more content over time. If you’re on Facebook, please like our page so you can keep up on the news at SEARHC.

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Medicare open enrollment is now through Dec. 7: Just a reminder for our patients who are enrolled in Medicare health coverage for seniors, the open enrollment period for the 2013 plan year is open from now until Dec. 7. This is the time when you can sign up for new plans, or change your existing ones. The Medicare website has lots of tools to help seniors look at the costs, levels of coverage, convenience and quality of care they can expect in the different plans so they can make the best selection. Even if you don’t plan to make any changes from your existing coverage plan, it’s always a good idea to review your options to see if there’s one better suited to what you need. The Medicare Plan Finder can help you check the health and drug plan options available in your area. If you still need help comparing plans, you can call the Medicare help line at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). SEARHC employees Judy Mills-Brown (966-8307 or toll-free at 1-888-966-8307) and Nellie Kookesh (966-8814) also can help patients with Medicare questions.

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SEARHC patient advocates serve as customer liaisons: SEARHC has three patient advocate positions in Southeast Alaska — Bryan Whitson (Sitka), Cyndi Reeves (POW), and Debra Graceland (Juneau) — 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). Patients in Juneau, Haines, Skagway, Klukwan and Hoonah should contact Debra Graceland (463-6656). 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

Charles Clement

Just a reminder...