President’s Update for November 15, 2013

In this edition...

New Director of Practice Management

I am pleased to announce that Eric Gettis has accepted the offer to be our new Director of Practice Management, his official first day will be January 13, 2014. As the Director of Practice Management, Eric will be working side by side with Dr. Sheufelt, our new Primary Care Clinics Medical Director. Together they will be managing the operations of sixteen medical practices. Eric will lead improvement efforts, front end office processes, appointment scheduling, registration, health information management, provider schedule optimization, customer service, and quality monitoring.

Eric has over 20 years of healthcare leadership and has gained broad and varied experience with Lourdes Health Network during his service to the System. He has earned progressive promotions during his tenure with Lourdes Health Network and has managed outpatient mental health and adult ambulatory service as well as his current Practice Management post.  

Prior to living in Washington State’s “Tri-Cities”, Eric and his wife Mary spent seven summers in Skagway and they are both looking forward to being back in Southeast Alaska. Eric will settle into his new job in Juneau for the first six months, and upon his daughter’s graduation from high school, Mary will join him at their new home base in Sitka.

Eric looks forward to meeting everyone, and will be joining us at the Manager Retreat next week in Sitka. Please join me in welcoming Eric to our SEARHC Family.


Call ELMC for appointments on weekends

Starting on November 23, we will be moving from a weekend Walk-In Clinic model at the Ethel Lund Medical Center in Juneau to scheduling specific appointment times for patients on Saturday and Sunday.

It is our goal to provide access for patients without causing them the inconvenience of waiting to be seen on a first come, first served basis. This will make the process much smoother and provide the convenience of knowing one’s appointment time in advance, thus decreasing the long wait to be seen by a provider.

As with our recently expanded clinic hours during the week, we want patients with non emergent needs to be able to access the clinic over the weekend instead of having to go to the emergency room or wait until Monday. Our ability to be open and available at a time that is convenient to patients is of the utmost importance to the organization. Offering specific appointment times simply adds to our ability to provide excellent service. 

Patients needing an appointment are encouraged to call early in the day. The ELMC Scheduling Line is (907) 463-6608.


Great American Smokeout

SEARHC strongly encourages smokers to become former smokers. One step in that direction is to take advantage of the Great American Smokeout on the third Thursday of November. Quitting tobacco, even just for a day, moves you that much closer to a healthier life – one with reduced risk of cancer and other health problems. This year the date is Thursday, November 21, 2013. Mark it on your calendars!

Tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the US, yet nearly 1 in every 5 adults still smoke tobacco and that rate is 75% higher (1 out of 3) for Alaska Native people. The health benefits of quitting start immediately and it’s never too late. Quitting at any age can give back years of life that would be lost by continuing to smoke and it doesn’t take long for your body to notice the difference…

  • 20 minutes after quitting your heart rate and blood pressure drop.
  • 12 hours after quitting the carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal.
  • 2 weeks to 3 months after quitting your circulation improves and your lung function increases.
  • 1 to 9 months after quitting coughing and shortness of breath decrease; cilia (tiny hair-like structures that move mucus out of the lungs) start to regain normal function in the lungs, increasing the ability to handle mucus, clean the lungs, and reduce the risk of infection.
  • 1 year after quitting the excess risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a continuing smoker’s.
  • 15 years after quitting the risk of coronary heart disease is that of a non-smoker’s.

Quitting tobacco is hard. Get help from your doctor now. You can call Alaska’s Tobacco Quit Line for free help to quit tobacco. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW.


Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital staff training

Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium will provide a three and ½ hour training to MEH staff on Monday, November 18th  at the hospital. Laura Avellandedea-Cruz and Dr. Linda Chamberlain will cover the dynamics of domestic violence, sexual violence, and reproductive coercion, their effects on health care, and how to use the new patient safety card approach. All physicians, physician assistants, RN’s, CNA’s, medical assistants, human resources representatives, security department, dental/eye clinics and other direct care staff are encouraged to attend this important and informative training session to work together for effective and compassionate screening of our patients.


SEARHC staffer helping Southeast communities manage water infrastructure

Shilo Williams, a USDA Rural Development funded Technical Assistance Training provider, assisted 7 communities with implementing asset management programs for water and wastewater infrastructure across Southeast Alaska and anticipates visiting 8 more communities over the coming year. She has recently presented the program at several events, highlighting the importance of maintaining systems to deliver potable water and wastewater management. In response to Ms. Williams’ presentation to a national EPA webinar, Katie Henderson with the EPA said: 

“Shilo Williams, Community Capacity Development Specialist for the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium, was featured during the latest quarterly CUPSS Community Call hosted by U.S. EPA on October 31, 2013. Check-Up Program for Small Systems (CUPSS) is a free, downloadable asset management software program developed by EPA that water and wastewater systems can use to manage their assets, tasks, and finances. Shilo described the work she has done with community water systems in Southeastern Alaska to promote asset management using CUPSS and highlighted some useful tips for other CUPSS users and trainers. Shilo’s work will also be highlighted in a CUPSS Case Study series that will be released early 2014. For more information about CUPSS, please visit: http://water.epa.gov/infrastructure/drinkingwater/pws/cupss/ or contact cupss@epa.gov

Ms. Williams also presented at the Alaska Water and Wastewater Management Association’s regional conference held in Sitka this fall. She spoke to water and wastewater operators about the principles of asset management, how utilities can get started, and discussed the benefits of asset management programs for operators and utility managers.

If you are interested in learning more about this program, please contact Shilo at (907) 966-8647 or shilow@searhc.org

Charles Clement

Just a reminder...


Expanded ELMC Clinic Hours

Beginning Monday, November 4, we expanded our clinic hours at the Ethel Lund Medical Center in Juneau. The clinic along with the Pharmacy will be open from 8:00 AM – 8:00 PM Monday through Thursday and 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM on Friday. The weekday hours were previously 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM.

Parents and students are so busy it just made sense to be open and available whenever is most convenient. Providing access to patients that prefer to see a provider later in the day is important and we also hope that patients with non-emergent needs will be able to access the clinic instead of the emergency room during these expanded hours.


Free health screenings in Haines for National Diabetes Month

November is National Diabetes Month and in observance this year, SEARHC and our partners are working with individuals, families, and communities to take action and encourage simple, but important lifestyle changes to improve their health.

On November 19th & 20th, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., the SEARHC Haines Clinic and Health Promotion staff will be hosting free health screenings for adults 18 and older at the Haines Clinic. Contact Kathy Friedle in Haines at 766-6366 for more information or to make an appointment for a health screening.