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Alaska needs more forensic nurses, authorities say

ANCHORAGE, Alaska—Health care workers say there’s a shortage in Alaska of forensic nurses, who prosecutors describe as crucial in bringing justice to sexual assault victims.

Studies show that between 2003 and 2007 Alaska’s reported rate of rape was more than two and a half times the national average. To make stronger cases against rapists, prosecutors say they need as much evidence as they can get—and that includes access to forensic nurses.

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Local Emergency Department Nurse Receives Award

Ketchikan, Alaska - Bev Crum, Nurse Manager for the Emergency Department of Ketchikan General Hospital in Ketchikan, Alaska, was the recipient of the Nurse Manager Award presented by the Emergency Nurses Association (ENA) at its annual conference on October 8 in Baltimore.

The award honors a nurse who has consistently demonstrated excellence in the profession of emergency nursing and who has made significant contributions to the profession through emergency nursing management. The recipient is an individual responsible for hiring, firing, corrective action, personnel evaluation, staffing and program development, who also demonstrates innovative program development, mentoring and leadership skills, and serves as a consultant on emergency nursing issues to other groups.

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IHS awards $90.5 million contract for replacement hospital in Alaska

The Indian Health Service awarded a $90.5 million construction contract for a replacement facility at 21-bed Norton Sound Regional Hospital, Nome, Alaska, using federal stimulus dollars. The contract went to Inuit-NCI JV, which is a partnership between Inuit Services and Neeser Construction of Anchorage.

The funds were provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The new 150,000-square-foot Norton Sound hospital, scheduled to be completed in 2012, replaces a 61-year-old facility serving about 10,000 patients annually. The hospital is owned by Norton Sound Health Corp., a tribal not-for-profit group representing the Bering Strait region. “These funds will help improve healthcare, create jobs and make our native communities stronger,” said IHS Director Yvette Roubideaux, in a news release.

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Barrow Replacement Hospital

The city of Barrow, Alaska, is one of the northernmost cities in the world. The population, at the time of the 2000 census, was about 4,000. Nearby, Point Barrow is the northernmost point in the United States. The location has been home to Native Inupiat Eskimo people for more than 1,000 years.

The Indian Health Service, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Denali Commission have contributed money to pay for replacement of the current hospital located at 1296 Agvik St. in Barrow. The current hospital, which has been deemed inadequate and does not meet required building codes, is scheduled to be torn down.

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Nurses’ role increasing in schools

This isn’t your daddy’s school system. Or your mama’s. Just ask Naomi Walsworth, supervisor of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District’s Health Services. Judging by the increasing number of K-12 students with medical needs, it isn’t even the same as when Walsworth completed college.

“I’d never have imagined having someone on a respirator in a school or operating an insulin pump to give insulin or checking blood sugar levels every hour,” she said. “Now, we’re figuring out how to keep these kids in school.”

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Our view: Healthier America

Sen. Mark Begich, in a speech to a packed ballroom at the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce meeting Monday, showed that he is strong on the basic elements that health care reform must include but he is unfortunately vague on two important questions. He realizes health care reform should be designed to rein in out-of-control spending. Trying to prevent unhealthy conditions should be emphasized as part of that cost-cutting.

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State makes head way on Medicaid Services

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services says it’s making head way to put an end to the federal moratorium on Medicaid services.

Since June 26th, the feds suspended any new enrollment for Medicaid because the state had been poorly managing the program. Since then, the state has been working on a way to fix the problem before September 1st.

The state says it is doing everything it can to show the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) that it is working diligently to resolve these issues. But even if things improve by the deadline, there is no guarantee on when the moratorium will be lifted.

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Alaska health services puts hold on new applicants

(Anchorage, AK) - The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services today responded to a preliminary review of some of Alaska’s Medicaid-funded programs by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), thanking CMS for its oversight assistance, offering clarification on some points and requesting additional information.

The CMS review placed a moratorium on new applications for the state’s Medicaid waiver programs, which allow use of Medicaid funds for home and community-based care programs, and for Personal Care services. The review also raised concerns about operational and programmatic oversight of each. The department will submit a corrective action plan by Sept. 1.

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Hospital helps Alaskans’ health for long-term

One year ago, Kathy Arnold was told she had a 30 percent chance of surviving congestive heart failure, and her family began saying their goodbyes and making preparations for her death.

Last week, Arnold was one of several patients returning to St. Elias Specialty Hospital for their first annual patient family reunion, an event reconnecting patients with each other and with those who cared for them during their stay.

“It’s an amazing thing to be able to care for people and watch their progress and watch them go back home to family and friends and get back into their community,” said Beth Rhoden, a nurse liaison. “We make miracles happen here that I’m just in awe of.”

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Health reform will help heal economy, ailing Alaskans

This is the summer of health reform and great opportunity. If Congress gets it right, Americans happy with their current health insurance and medical care will keep what they have, while everyone will have access to affordable, quality care.

We can do this while addressing important priorities for Alaska.

The goal is ambitious. We need to cover about 46 million Americans who don’t have health insurance, including 115,000 in Alaska. When they aren’t covered, all of us pay more. The average American family with health insurance last year paid a hidden “health tax” of $1,000 — when uninsured people can’t pay, the cost of uncompensated care shifts to those with coverage.

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