International FASD Awareness Day on Sept. 9: SEARHC honored International Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) Awareness Day on Friday, Sept. 9, by hosting informational displays at the Ethel Lund Medical Center in Juneau and helping host a FASD awareness and support reception at Sitka’s Harrigan Centennial Hall. Alaska has the nation’s highest rate of children being born with FASD, and all of these FASD births are entirely preventable. FASD is the term used for more than 240 different conditions that can occur to the unborn child of a mother who drinks alcohol while pregnant, such as fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), fetal alcohol effects (FAE), alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder (ARND) and alcohol-related birth defects (ARBD). Children born with FASD can experience life-long physical, mental, behavioral, and learning disabilities. It is common for children born with FASD to later experience school difficulties, juvenile delinquency, unemployment, and crime. For information about FASD prevention, screening, and treatment, please contact Haa Toowóo Náakw Hít Outpatient Behavioral Health Clinic at (907) 966-8815.
Suicide Prevention Week on Sept. 4-10 and World Suicide Prevention Day on Sept. 10: Governor Sean Parnell has declared Sept. 4-10 as Suicide Prevention Week in Alaska, and Work Suicide Prevention Day is Saturday, Sept. 10. The SEARHC Behavioral Health/Suicide Prevention Program honored these two events by hosting information tables at the AC/Lakeside Grocery in Sitka during the week and helping sponsor National Recovery Month walks on Saturday in Juneau and Sitka. The rate of suicide in Alaska is twice the rest of the country, and the rates are highest in the Alaska Native people. At SEARHC, we help sponsor the “1 is 2 Many” regional suicide prevention task force for Southeast Alaska and we offer the free 24/7 SEARHC Help Line (1-877-294-0074) to people in Southeast Alaska going through a period of crisis. For more information on suicide prevention, contact Wilbur Brown at (907) 966–8753.
Performance Improvement Director selected: We are pleased to announce Maria Marra, RN, BSN, CPHQ, accepted the Performance Improvement (PI) Director position effective next week. She will oversee the PI division and coordinate a consortium-wide approach to quality improvement. The division includes performance improvement managers, patient advocates, infection control/safety officers, employee health nurse and data specialist. Maria has been with SEARHC for more than 18 years and has been integral in the planning and development of the new PI division. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from the St. Louis campus of Chamberlain College of Nursing (an Addison, Ill.-based school with satellite campuses in Illinois, Florida, Arizona, Missouri, Ohio, Texas, and Virginia). She is a Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality. Her many years of experience include work in quality, accreditation, patient safety, risk management, administration, infection control, customer satisfaction, and critical care and emergency services. We are thrilled to have her leading the PI team. Please help me in welcoming Maria to her new position.
Alaska State Hospital and Nursing Home Association meets: This week the Alaska State Hospital and Nursing Home Association (ASHNHA) held its meeting in Ketchikan. ASHNHA membership includes nearly all of the hospitals across Alaska. The meeting included continuing education for health executives, delivering quality services, patient safety, updates from the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, physician-executive partnerships, and several panel topics on current trends in health delivery. During the business meeting, the Board adopted the recommendation of the Alaska Native Health Board to appoint me as the Tribal Delegate member on the ASHNHA Executive Committee. This seat was vacant after Frank Sutton retired. SEARHC joined a panel discussion on the challenges and opportunities ahead in federal, state, and market reform. There were also presentations made on quality initiatives, physician recruiting, and reflections from the 2008 shooting tragedy at Central Peninsula Hospital. Our Southeast Area Health Education Center (SE AHEC) also was in attendance to share information about the program. Dr. Marty Grasmeder, Kendra Pountney, and Norma Perkins were in attendance at the conference.
SEARHC co-sponsors fifth annual Sitka Health Summit: The fifth annual Sitka Health Summit takes place on Thursday through Saturday, Sept. 29-Oct. 1, at Harrigan Centennial Hall. Sitka will honor its community wellness champions and have a keynote presentation “Health in the Long Run” from Don Lehmann, MD, of the Sitka Medical Center from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday. The celebration on Thursday features local organic desserts from Sitka Spruce Catering, with a suggested donation of $5 going toward the summit’s Health Initiates Fund. On Friday, community members will meet from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. to decide on summit priorities and then plan projects to address these issues. Past summit projects led to Sitka’s becoming Alaska’s first Bicycle Friendly Community, the start of the Sitka Farmers Market, the community wellness center created from the Hames Athletic and Wellness Center, getting more local fish into school lunches, planting fruit trees, the creation of a Choose Respect mural to promote domestic violence/sexual assault awareness and encouraging more families and children to spend time outdoors for recreation. On Saturday, the Sitka Community Health Fair takes place from 7 a.m. to noon, with Alaska Health Fairs, Inc., offering blood tests and local health and wellness groups hosting information booths. The Sitka Health Summit started when SEARHC and Sitka Community Hospital were discussing ways to bridge the gaps in health care in Sitka, and several other partners have joined together. SEARHC, Sitka Community Hospital, Silver Bay Seafoods and the University of Alaska Southeast-Sitka Campus are the four major sponsors of this year’s event. These events include financial and logistical support from more than a dozen other organizations. For more information, contact Doug Osborne at (907) 966-8734 or go to http://www.sitkahealthsummit.org/.
Fall mobile mammogram schedule continues: The Fall 2011 schedule for the mobile mammogram van program kicked off last month with a visit Aug. 22–26 in Hoonah. It continues with trips to Haines through Sept. 12, to Skagway on Sept. 13–14, to Klawock on Sept. 20–30 and Oct. 5-11, to Craig on Oct. 3-4, and to Metlakatla on Oct. 13-21. The mobile mammogram van program is operated as a partnership between Bartlett Regional Hospital and the SEARHC WISEWOMAN Women’s Health Program. Women are encouraged to contact their local clinics before the scheduled visit because they will need to have had a clinical breast exam before they can get their mammogram. The SEARHC WISEWOMAN program provides free clinical breast exams, mammograms, Pap tests and cardiovascular screenings for all women ages 40 and older who meet income and insurance guidelines. For more information, contact your local clinic, call the SEARHC WISEWOMAN Women’s Health Program at (907) 966-8782 (or 1-888-388-8782, toll-free in Alaska), or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about services available through the SEARHC WISEWOMAN Women’s Health Program, go to http://www.searhc.org/womenshealth/.