President’s Update for Sept. 14, 2012

In this edition...

In this edition …

SEARHC, Alaska well-represented for NIHB awards gala in Denver: Health leaders from SEARHC and Alaska will be well-represented during the National Indian Health Board 29th Annual Consumer Conference and 40th Anniversary Celebration awards gala taking place on Wednesday, Sept. 26, at the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel in Denver, Colo. Winning Local Impact Awards are the SEARHC Traveling Clinic Program (which makes access to care easier for patients living in rural communities by bringing medical specialists to town) and Cook Inlet Regional Inc. (CIRI) Chairman Charles Anderson for his work promoting wellness in the Native community and his leadership with Southcentral Foundation’s Nuka System of Care. Alaska Native Health Board (ANHB) Chairman and SEARHC Board Member Lincoln Bean Sr., Susan Yeager from the Alaska VA Healthcare System, and SEARHC Patient Access Administrator Libby Watanabe share the Regional/Area Award for their work expanding health care to Native veterans throughout Alaska. Dr. Janice Heaton Sheufelt, who is clinic administrator/medical director at the SEARHC Ethel Lund Medical Center in Juneau, won the National Impact Award for her work on behalf of the health of Native people in her community. Congratulations, everybody.

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Dr. Matt Taintor joins S’áxt’ Hít Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital medical staff: S’áxt’ Hít Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital has added Matt Taintor, MD, to its medical staff. Dr. Taintor has specialties of internal medicine and pediatrics, and he is taking his board certification exams in both specialties this fall. He earned his medical degree from the University of Minnesota, and he completed a combined internal medicine and pediatrics residency at the University of Utah. He earned undergraduate degrees in psychology and biology from Bethel College (now Bethel University) in St. Paul, Minn. While in medical school, Dr. Taintor was inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society. Dr. Taintor is a former Juneau resident, who worked with Juneau Youth Services and was a fly-fishing guide before completing medical school. His medical interests are preventive medicine and pediatric growth and development. He also enjoys spending time with his lovely wife, cute kids and large lazy dog, and he enjoys fly-fishing, spending time on the water and all things outdoors. In addition to seeing families in Sitka, Dr. Taintor will provide itinerant care to our patients in Angoon.

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S’áxt’ Hít Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital designated a clinical teaching site by the University of Washington: The University of Washington School of Medicine recently partnered with SEARHC by designating S’áxt’ Hít Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital as a clinical teaching site. In addition, Dr Valerie Edwards and Dr. Elliot Bruhl have been named to the clinical faculty at the medical school. The cooperative program will allow third-year medical students to receive training at the hospital throughout the year. A total of eight medical students will rotate through the hospital each year, and will be learning about family medicine from our clinic staff. Additionally, several family medicine resident physicians will be training at the hospital each year. Teaching medical students and residents has always been a responsibility of our physician staff, but this is the first time that we have had a consistent and coherent program alliance with a single medical school. The benefits of this approach are numerous, and include improvement of the quality of teaching to students and residents, improvement in the continuing education of our full-time doctors on staff, and increased long-term recruitment and retention of physicians. Numerous studies also have shown that patient care is improved in hospitals where medical students and residents are trained.

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Kake brings Southeast Alaska Stand Down home for local vets: SEARHC Community Family Service Worker Dinah Aceveda of Kake and her husband, Roy, were in Juneau last week for the Southeast Alaska Stand Down event for veterans this past Friday and Saturday (Sept. 7-8). They returned to Kake with 40 duffle bags filled with army surplus gear for Kake veterans. The Kake Veterans and Widows of Kake Veterans organization held its own mini Stand Down on Sunday, Sept. 9, in Kake, with a king salmon luncheon for the honored veterans. The VA benefits forms were promoted and completed, making more Kake veterans eligible for Department of Veteran Affairs services. SEARHC board member Lincoln Bean gave a good speech about the Veterans Administration's huge Stand Down event in Juneau, and he also brought back army gear for the veterans and their families. The larger event in Juneau had about 800 veterans attend over the two days, and they learned about a variety of services including the fact they now can receive care from their local tribal health clinic instead of having to travel to Anchorage or Seattle for basic VA services. Here are links to wrap-up stories about the Southeast Alaska Stand Down from the Juneau Empire and KTOO-FM news. The Juneau Empire and KTOO-FM news also had preview stories before the event, and KTOO-FM featured the event as one of its interviews on its “A Juneau Afternoon” program.

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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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ANTHC’s Local Environmental Observer program recruits in Southeast Alaska: The Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC) is seeking more participants for the Local Environmental Observer (LEO) program, which collects observations from around the state about unusual or extreme environmental occurrences and changes. Since the program began in January, 139 tribal environmental leaders from 85 communities around the state have registered as LEOs. Mike Brubaker, ANTHC’s director for the Center for Climate and Health, said the LEOs serve as central points for collecting observations from everyone in the community. Monitoring the environment is important for understanding the risks and benefits and for adaptation. The LEOs are the eyes, ears and voice of environmental change in Alaska communities. For example, in May an LEO from Hollis reported Sitka black-tailed deer with big swaths of missing hair. That prompted a discussion between Alaska and Canadian LEOs about what parasites or environmental changes might be causing the condition. LEOs are tribal environmental professionals who apply traditional knowledge, western science and technology to document unusual plants and wildlife, extreme weather, erosion, flooding, droughts, wildfire and other events that can threaten food security, water security and community health. To learn more about the program, contact Mike Brubaker at 729-2464 or mybrubaker@anthc.org, or go to the ANTHC’s LEO program site.

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SEARHC, other tribal traditional foods programs featured: The “Wellness in Native America” blog from the American Indian Institute at the University of Oklahoma on Wednesday, Sept. 5, featured an article about traditional food programs around the country that are supported by the CDC’s Native Diabetes Wellness Program. There also were extended interviews with several of the featured programs about their specific programs, and the SEARHC article included interviews and photos with SEARHC WISEFAMILIES Through Customary and Traditional Knowledge program staff in Sitka, Kake and Wrangell.

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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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Just a reminder …

Fall 2012 mobile mammogram van schedule prepares to head to POW: The SEARHC WISEWOMAN Women’s Health Program and Bartlett Regional Hospital have announced the Fall 2012 schedule for the mobile mammogram program. The mobile mammography van will visit Klawock on Sept. 19-28 and Oct. 3-9, Craig on Oct. 1-2, and Metlakatla on Oct. 11-19 (no weekend or holiday appointments). The van already visited Hoonah, Haines and Skagway on this season’s schedule. Women are encouraged to contact their local clinics prior to the scheduled visit because they will need to receive a clinical breast exam before they can get their mammograms. The mobile mammography program is run through a partnership between Bartlett Regional Hospital and the SEARHC WISEWOMAN Women’s Health Program. It makes regular mammography screening services available to women who live in communities where they aren’t available year round. The SEARHC WISEWOMAN Women’s Health 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 in Sitka at 966-8782 (or 1-888-388-8782, toll-free in Alaska), or send e-mail to askwh@searhc.org. For more information about services available through the SEARHC WISEWOMAN Women’s Health Program.

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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...