Entries by Maggie Wyatt

Measles – what should you do?

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) has confirmed a single case of measles in an unvaccinated teenager from the Kenai Peninsula who recently traveled out of state to Arizona via Seattle, Washington. This makes Alaska the 29th state to have a confirmed case of measles in 2019. 

If you think that you or someone in your family might have measles – call your healthcare provider.  It is important to get care quickly, but make sure you call first and don’t go directly to the hospital, your doctor’s office, clinic or school.  Providers will have specific instructions to prevent exposing others to infectious disease.

Measles in Homer is Preventable

The following editorial was written by SPH Chief of Staff  Giulia Tortora, MD and originally published in the Homer News on  June 5, 2019.

In 1989, I spent two months working in a hospital in Tanzania, Africa. While I worked in that small village, where no vaccines were available and care options were limited, I was shocked to discover that the main disease that killed children was measles. Not malaria. Not malnutrition. Measles. Watching any child die of a preventable disease is heartbreaking.

Measles vaccination rates have declined, and the outbreak in the U.S. is both serious and terrifying. The likelihood of seeing it in Alaska is very high, and we need to prepare to face the consequences of this public health nightmare.

Homer Steps Up! 2019 Community Walking Challenge Results!

The community walking challenge Homer Steps Up! 2019 has come to an end!

We not only reached our community goal of 100 million steps together in the month of May – we reached 110 million steps!

The winning teams are The City of Homer Team with a team score of 311,756 (actual total steps of 16,835,327 between 54 members!) and the M&M&M’s – a team of staff & families from Paul Banks Elementary School with a team score of 347,125 (actual total steps of 3,818,374 between 11 members).

Thank you to all the teams who participated, and everyone who participated as an individual stepper – we will see you next year!

Visit us on Facebook @homerstepsup for pictures and more!

Ryan Smith named CEO of South Peninsula Hospital

The Board of Directors of South Peninsula Hospital, Inc., announced Tuesday, May 14, their selection of Ryan Smith for the position of Chief Executive Officer. Smith currently serves as CEO of Memorial Hospital of Converse County in Douglas, Wyoming. During his nearly eight years there he successfully created a clinically integrated provider network, oversaw the addition of a 25,000 square foot freestanding medical office building, and markedly improved patient satisfaction and employee engagement.

Prior to Memorial Hospital, Smith was the CEO of Central Peninsula Hospital (CPH) in Soldotna for five years, during which time he led a $50 million dollar expansion, nearly tripled gross patient revenues, resulting in a positive operating and net income, and negotiated a 10-year hospital lease and operating agreement with the Kenai Peninsula Borough. While at CPH he was the Chair of the Alaska State Hospital and Nursing Home Association, awarded “Grassroots Champion” by the American Hospital Association in 2009, and named Soldotna Chamber of Commerce “Person of the Year” in 2010.

Smith started his healthcare administration career right at South Peninsula Hospital in Homer where he served as Chief Financial Officer from 1996-1998. From 1998 to 2002, he was Chief Financial Officer for Life Point Hospitals, Inc, and served as CFO at Salt Lake Regional Medical Center from 2004-2005.  He spent his first ten years in healthcare with the Hospital Corporation of America, working his way up through several positions to a leadership position in the finance department.

David Groesbeck, SPH Board President, says the board is excited for this opportunity for SPH and the Homer community. “Mr. Smith is a talented CEO. His references speak to extraordinary talents, his record speaks for itself, and his familiarity with Alaska and the Kenai Peninsula will prove invaluable. We are fortunate that his desire to return to Homer aligns perfectly with our organization’s needs and goals. He is a proven leader with the right experience, vision and commitment to lead us forward.”

Smith earned both a BS in Accounting and an MBA from The University of Utah in Salt Lake City. He will arrive to Homer in August to begin the position full time, but will be involved in upper level administration before then. Noel Rea, named interim CEO in April, will remain on until Smith’s arrival.

Safe Sitter 1-Day with CPR for students entering grades 6-8

The next Safe Sitter 1-Day Essentials with CPR at South Peninsula Hospital is scheduled for Friday, August 9th, 2019 from 9:00 am – 4:00 pm.  Registration, including the program fee of $50.00 (scholarships available upon request!) is required by August 5th – please contact wellness@sphosp.org or call the South Peninsula Hospital Health & Wellness Department at (907) 235-0970 to register and for more information.  Further details, including class location, will be shared with you upon registration.

Walk with a Doc! Saturday May 18th – Hal Smith, MD

Join us for our last “Walk with a Doc” until September 7th! FREE WALKING PASSES for June, July & August are available at Walk with a Doc! All are welcome Saturday, May 18th from 9:00 am-10:00 am to hear from Dr. Hal Smith, who recently retired after nearly 40 years in emergency medicine!

This is a free event, open to all ages and abilities! There is parking up at the SPARC and down below in the Homer Middle School Parking lot.

Walk with a Doc is a nationwide walking program for everyone interested in taking steps for a healthier lifestyle. What better way to start your weekend than on your feet making strides to help your heart and improving your general health to live longer! While you walk at your own pace, you’ll have the opportunity to have questions answered by local physicians.

There will be free blood pressure screenings, prizes, and refreshments!

Please bring clean indoor walking shoes.

Upcoming walk: September 7th, 2019! 

Living Well Alaska: Chronic Disease Self-Management Workshops

Living Well Alaska is a six-session weekly workshop for adults with all kinds of ongoing health conditions and their family or caregivers.  Developed by Stanford University and endorsed by the Alaska Department of Health & Social Services, Living Well workshops help you take control of your ongoing health condition, rather than letting it control you.

Put the life back in your life!

Workshops are on Wednesday from 4:30-6:30pm at Homer Medical Center, and a new series begins every two months.  The cost is $40 for the entire six-week series. Contact Living Well Alaska Instructor Michael Tupper, NCMA CPI at (907) 435-3047 for more information, upcoming course dates, and to register. 

Delayed Billing Available for Federal Employees

Federal employees affected by the government shutdown are eligible to suspend their payments on medical care at South Peninsula Hospital and hospital owned clinics for the duration of the shutdown.  To delay their payments, the employee must contact the hospital financial assistance office at 235-0218 or 235-0298 and request their billing and statement be put on hold. This offer applies to payment plan accounts, statements and billing for hospital, clinic and physician charges, and these accounts will not be subject to penalty or interest charges during the suspended time.  Questions can be directed to the financial assistance office at the numbers above.

Walk with a Doc! Seasonal Affective Disorder – what it is and ways to cope, with Bobbi Cleary, MSCP, LPC

Join South Peninsula Hospital and Homer private practice counselor Bobbi Cleary, MSCP, LPC at SPARC (600 Sterling Hwy next to Homer Middle School) for our next “Walk with a Doc”! All are welcome Saturday, January 19th from 9:00 am-10:00 am for Bobbi’s brief talk on Seasonal Affective Disorder – what it is and ways to cope with it and spend the rest of the hour walking at your own pace, chatting & asking any questions. This is a free event, open to all ages and abilities! There is parking up at the SPARC and down below in the Homer Middle School Parking lot. Find out more on Facebook or our page on the Walk with a Doc National website!

Thank you, Homer! Community Walking Challenge Results:

More than 90 million steps taken in community-wide steps challenge

Over $3,000 in cash and merchandise prizes were awarded to winners in the 1st annual community wide steps challenge at the event-wrap up party on Saturday, June 2 at the Homer Farmers Market.

The City of Homer retained team bragging rights, ending the month long challenge with 349,443 total steps taken. The City won last year’s challenge, which was an invitational among four local agencies, and took the trophy in this year’s expanded event among 18 total teams.

435 participants enrolled in the event, taking a grand total of 90,214,266 steps in the month of May.