Do you know your ABC’s? Want to learn how to help yourself or someone you love manage the ABC’s of prediabetes/diabetes, while also reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke? November is American Diabetes Awareness Month, and according to the American Diabetes Association nearly 26 million Americans have diabetes and another 79 million are at risk for getting Type 2 diabetes. The American Diabetes Association also estimates that about a third of people who have diabetes, about 7 million, don’t even know they have the disease. If untreated, diabetes can lead to serious health issues with the heart, kidneys, eyes, teeth, nerves and even result in foot amputations. Getting to know your ABC’s — A1c (a test for blood glucose levels), Blood pressure and Cholesterol — is the first step toward diagnosing and managing diabetes. Empower yourself with knowledge. The SEARHC Lifestyle Balance Program offers a series of classes for Native adults diagnosed with prediabetes or are at high risk for Type 2 diabetes, teaching the students lifestyle changes that can prevent or delay the onset of Type 2 diabetes. The SEARHC Diabetes Program offers support for people with diabetes, including medication, eye care, dental care, physical therapy, nutrition therapy and pain management. To learn more, call the SEARHC Diabetes Program at 966-8739 or go to http://www.searhc.org/programs/diabetes_program.php.
Dental program to host November clinic in Kasaan: The Alicia Roberts Medical Center Dental Clinic team led by Dr. Stephen Ericksen will host a dental clinic on Nov. 8-11 at the Kasaan Health Center, plus on Nov. 14 a dental hygienist will be in Kasaan to clean teeth. Basic services that will be available include screenings, exams, fillings, extractions, cleanings, and preventive services provided by our dental health aides. To learn more and schedule an appointment, contact the ARMC dental clinic at 755-4918.
National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month: November is National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month and this year’s theme is “Native Youth: Connecting Cultures and Wellness.” National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month is celebrated to recognize the intertribal cultures and to educate the public about the heritage, history, art, and traditions of the American Indian and Alaska Native people. While not an official U.S. recognition, several departments of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Veteran Affairs, Department of the Interior, Department of Education and other state and local groups celebrate the month. In Alaska, there will be celebrations throughout the state, including in Juneau and Sitka. In Juneau, the Sealaska Heritage Institute will host a series of free brown-bag lunches to discuss 40 years of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) at noon on Nov. 4, 14, 15, 21 and 28 at the Sealaska Plaza fourth-floor board room (contact463-4844 or go to http://www.sealaskaheritage.org/ for information). In Sitka, there will be a variety of activities hosted by the Sitka National Historical Park, including a “Fun with Formline” youth art class on Nov. 4, a community salmon bake and potluck on Nov. 20, and a series of short movies about Native American history on Nov. 12 and 26 (contact 747-0134 or go to http://www.nps.gov/sitk/ for information). Sitka Tribe of Alaska also is scheduling some events, including a parade and community dinner. Details will be announced (contact 747-3207 or http://sitkatribe.org/ for information).
SEARHC’s special BRFSS telephone survey continues into November: SEARHC Health Promotion has contracted with a company that will conduct a special Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) telephone survey of 640 Southeast Alaska residents. The survey started in September and will continue into November. The company doing the surveying is focusing on Alaska Native families. The survey involves a 15-minute telephone call where people are asked basic health questions, such as what is your level of health, what do you do to stay healthy, what do you do when you get sick and how easy is it for you to get health care. This is similar to a statewide BRFSS conducted by the State of Alaska, but it will give us better data about Southeast Alaska so SEARHC can do a better job of planning its health promotion and disease prevention programs. If you or your neighbors receive these calls, please take 15 minutes to complete the survey. The individual calls are confidential, and only the overall data will be used for planning. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Edy Rodewald at 364-4452 or Andrea Thomas at 966-8883.
Health Information and Technology Week honors workers behind the scenes: Health Information and Technology Week is Nov. 6-12, which is the perfect time to honor those workers who provide “Accurate Health Information for Care You Trust.” Health Information Management (HIM) professionals at SEARHC focus on the dissemination, analysis and security of health information. They safeguard the most confidential patient data, providing a critical link between providers, payers and patients. At the same time they manage the health information so it meets health, administrative, ethical and legal requirements. At SEARHC, HIM has three distinct areas — records room, transcription and coding. The records room staff takes care of patient charts, storing them and working with providers to keep the charts updated and organized. The transcription staff types up dictated notes from the providers so it can be added to patient charts. Coding staff translate diagnoses and procedures into numerical codes for research, billing, statistic and administration purposes.
State offers free hair testing for mercury to women of childbearing age: The state is offering free hair testing for mercury. There have been concerns that foods harvested from the sea may have elevated levels of mercury. Mercury in the environment builds up in the bodies of animals, and most people in Alaska come into contact with mercury by eating fish and sea mammals. Mercury harms the nervous system of children before and even after they are born. Hair testing for mercury is a good way to measure mercury in your body. In Alaska, confidential hair mercury testing is offered free of charge to all women of childbearing age (15-45 years old). By having their hair tested, women can know their own mercury level and learn if changes in their diet might reduce their mercury exposure. To have your hair tested for mercury, contact Frank K. Okyere, Statewide Hair Mercury Biomonitoring Program, Alaska Division of Public Health, 907-269-6560, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rebecca Howe attends Youth Residential Treatment Center meeting: The first summit of Youth Residential Treatment Center (YRTC) Directors met last week at Indian Health Services Headquarters in Rockville, Md., in order to participate in strategic planning and to review the Youth Outcome Measurement (YOM) data collection system used by the programs. Rebecca Howe, program manager for the SEARHC Yéil Jeeyáx Raven’s Way adolescent residential substance abuse treatment center in Sitka and the current chair of this group, participated in the meeting. There are 11 treatment centers throughout the nation that are striving to improve substance abuse treatment outcomes for Native youth through the YOM’s data collection project and increasing collaboration. The YOM data collection system is the forerunner in national data collection at this time for Indian Health Services.