President’s Update for Oct. 29, 2011

In this edition...

In this edition …

AFN and ANB/ANS Grand Camp pass smoke-free workplace resolutions in October: This has been a very eventful month for adopting resolutions on smoke-free workplaces. On Oct. 7 at the Alaska Native Brotherhood & Alaska Native Sisterhood Grand Camp in Klawock, ANS Executive Committee Member Selina Everson of Camp 70 brought forth a resolution with support from the SEARHC Tobacco program. SEARHC Health Educator Rowena Reeves did a powerful presentation on the importance of protecting people from the dangers of secondhand smoke in workplaces, homes and cars and reducing tobacco use. Lincoln Bean, as a delegate from the Organized Village of Kake, presented the same resolution under suspended rules on Oct. 22 at the Alaska Federation of Natives convention in Anchorage. Richard Peterson from the Organized Village of Kasaan seconded the motion. The SEARHC Tobacco team also played a key role in assisting with the resolution. The resolution passed unanimously after delegates heard a poignant story from an elder in Tanana who lost his son from secondhand smoke. It was the only resolution to get applause. The title of the resolution is “Statewide Smoke-free Workplaces to Protect Tribal Citizens from the Dangers of Secondhand Smoke.”

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Statewide suicide prevention plan available for comment: The Alaska Statewide Suicide Prevention Council announced that it is accepting comments on its new five-year statewide suicide prevention plan released on Wednesday, Oct. 26. The announcement was made during the Alaska Area Action Summit for Suicide Prevention held Oct. 25-27 in Anchorage, an event sponsored by the Indian Health Service (IHS), Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Alaska’s suicide rate is twice the national average, with Alaska Native communities having a disproportionate number of suicides. The draft five-year plan is for the years 2012-17 and is titled “Casting the Net Upstream: Promoting Wellness to Prevent Suicide in Alaska.” The plan calls for setting six goals to prevent suicides and says prevention is the responsibility of individuals, communities, governments and families. The public comment period ends at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 30. People can review the draft plan and receive instructions on how to comment by going to http://hss.state.ak.us/suicideprevention/ or http://www.StopSuicideAlaska.org/. Representatives from the SEARHC Behavioral Health/Suicide Prevention Program attended the Alaska Area Action Summit for Suicide Prevention, which had the theme “Partnering with Alaska Natives to protect the circle of life.” The first day of the summit focused on suicide prevention, with the second day about intervention and postvention, and the third day focused on youth. There also were trainings on survivor support, strengthening families, assessing and managing suicide risk, and other topics.

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WELL-Balanced class graduates in Sitka: Eight students graduated from a WELL-Balanced (Wise Elders Living Longer) class Oct. 27 in Sitka. The Native elders started the eight-week, 16-session class on Sept. 6. Jennifer Young of SEARHC Injury Prevention and Renae Mathson of the SEARHC Diabetes Program taught the class. The WELL-Balanced program helps Native elders learn how to reduce their risk for falling while they have fun building their strength and working on their balance. Falling is the most common and serious risk facing Native elders. The fear of falling can cause elders to limit their activity, which can lead to a decline in health and the loss of independence. Participants receive a fall risk screening and learn ways to reduce their chance of falling. The National Resource Center on Native American Aging at the University of North Dakota created the WELL-Balanced program. To learn more about the WELL-Balanced program, which is offered in several communities, contact Jennifer Young at 966-8866 or Renae Mathson at 966-8797.

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Cal Curt joins Hoonah medical staff on Monday: Cal Curt will join the SEARHC Hoonah Health Center medical staff starting on Monday, Oct. 31. Cal has been a family nurse practitioner in rural northern New Mexico for more than 20 years. He most recently worked for the El Centro Family Health-Dunham Clinic in Chama, N.M. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree and his nurse practitioner certification from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. Cal replaces Charles “Chuck” Luck, a physician assistant who was killed in a July plane crash.

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Auriella Hughes attends palliative care training at Mayo Clinic: SEARHC Elder Care Case Manager Auriella Hughes, RN, had the special opportunity to attend the 2011 Mayo Clinic/Indian Health Service collaborative training in palliative, end-of-life care, taught Oct. 17-20 at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. This was the third joint palliative care training conference being conducted at the Mayo Clinic, and a tremendous opportunity to spend a week immersed at a world-class institution at the forefront of providing high quality end-of-life care and symptom management. As a participant, Auriella was able to go on rounds with Mayo Clinic palliative care teams, practice real life scenarios at the interactive simulation center, learn about disease and pain management, and participate in individualized training activities.

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Report says Alaska leads nation in firearm deaths: According to a study released this week by the Violence Policy Center out of Washington, D.C., Alaska leads the nation in firearms deaths and has a firearm death rate (20.64 per 100,000 people) that in nearly twice the national average (10.38 per 100,000 people). The study analyzed data from 2008 released earlier this month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There were 142 firearm-related deaths in Alaska during 2008, an increase from the 120 reported in 2007 and 116 in 2006. Since many Alaska homes have firearms in them, this is a good time to remind people about some basic safety actions that can prevent shooting injuries and/or deaths. Always unload your firearms when not hunting, and store the ammunition in a locked place separate from the firearms. Install trigger guards or remove firing pins when you store your firearms, especially if you have children. Always treat a firearm as a loaded weapon. Finally, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, National Rifle Association, Boy Scouts or 4H offer firearm safety classes.

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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 for patients and staff at SEARHC, and help patients navigate their way through our health system. SEARHC and the Kodiak Area Native Association (KANA) share an Anchorage-based patient advocate, Pamela Goodwin, who serves SEARHC and KANA patients 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 can contact Pamela Goodwin at 729-3992 (942-5867, cell).

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SEARHC has 24/7 on-call travel coordinators: Are you a SEARHC patient who needs after-hours help while traveling for a medical appointment? SEARHC now has a 24/7 on-call travel number. A staff person is on call to help you when your flight has been diverted due to weather or you need late-night help with housing. For assistance, call 1-800-916-8566 (toll-free in Alaska) or 1-907-966-8345 in Sitka and follow the prompts for assistance. To help us better help you, please call as soon as you can get to a phone after you know your flight has been changed.

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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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Regards, Roald