Recognizing Health Care Heroes

By Southcentral Foundation Public Relations

The Alaska Public Health Association presented Southcentral Foundation directors Dr. Donna Galbreath and LaZell Hammons with public health awards as part of the virtual 2022 Alaska Health Summit held Jan. 18-20.

Galbreath praised for 30 years of relationship-based care, quality assurance

SCF Senior Medical Director of Quality Assurance Dr. Donna Galbreath.

ALPHA awarded Dr. Donna Galbreath, SCF’s senior medical director of quality assurance, the prestigious Dr. Anne P. Lanier Meritorious Health Service Award for decades of contributions to community health and wellness.

Galbreath has worked for Tribal organizations in Alaska since completing her medical training more than 30 years ago. She comes from a line of traditional healers and uses both traditional Ahtna healing knowledge and Western medical knowledge in her primary care practice. She began her career with a strong belief that primary care — especially integrated within a health care system that values relationships — can transform overall community health. Her efforts as an SCF medical director, including strategic planning and developing comprehensive quality assurance programs, have helped improve the quality of services and increase customer satisfaction. She has been instrumental in helping SCF achieve the highest levels of Patient Centered Medical Home status, in expanding Alaska Native Medical Center’s cancer screening and cancer service programs, and in the whole-system redesign of OB-GYN and the Chronic Pain Program. Most recently, she has played a key role in rapidly adjusting programs and services in response to the pandemic.

A champion of – and advocate for – customer-ownership, she recognizes that if you own something, “you have certain expectations, you’re proud of it, you’re involved in it, and you take care of it.” She has been featured in Modern Healthcare magazine, Indian Country Today, Alaska Federation of Natives, and the national NLM Native Voices (Native Peoples’ Concepts of Health and Illness) exhibit.

Hammons celebrated for outstanding contributions to pandemic response

SCF Learning Institute Director LaZell Hammons.

ALPHA recognized LaZell Hammons, SCF’s Learning Institute director, with its Alaska Health Achievement Award for her dedication during the COVID-19 pandemic. From assisting in the set-up of SCF’s initial COVID-19 pandemic response, working on-site at Benteh Nuutah Valley Native Primary Care Center to help the workforce pivot to telework and remote care, to quickly and efficiently setting up and managing the day-to-day operations of SCF’s community-wide vaccine clinic in Anchorage, she has been hands-on in both the organization and deployment of SCF’s approaches to the crisis. She also put extra care into creating a positive environment for the teams of employees contributing to the pandemic response. Along the way, she sent notes of appreciation, delivered food to those in need, and organized recognition activities.

In this time of staffing shortages and high hospitalization rates as COVID-19 cases surge, Hammons has been working with Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium to enlist the support of SCF employees to work extra shifts, temporarily, at the ANMC hospital. She has been involved with the recruitment, scheduling, training, and coaching of over 200 SCF employees to meet the current needs at the hospital.

In Hammons’ role as the director of SCF’s Learning Institute, she has also ensured SCF has been able to continue to partner with other organizations to provide support, share innovations, and continue the journey of learning from others.