Southcentral Foundation Celebrates a Commitment to Future Generations

Southcentral Foundation conducted a needs assessment and the results show that SCF is aligned with top health priorities. As Alaska Native people took ownership of their own health care serving both Alaska Native and American Indian people — SCF conducted extensive focus groups, one-on-one interviews, meetings with Tribal leadership from all over the region, and surveys. Next, Alaska Native board of directors, SCF leadership, and customer-owners reviewed the feedback to determine what changes were desired. The priorities identified by customer-owners were drafted into a list of requirements and guiding principles. SCF uses those guiding principles with the vision, mission, and goals in everything SCF does.

Every aspect of the Nuka System of Care, from the principle of customer-ownership, to facility design, health care delivery systems, process and quality
improvement, and infrastructure, is driven by the customer-owners SCF serves. SCF is continuously listening to the voice of the customer and improving the services provided — demonstrated by the commitment of SCF leadership’s time and energy devoted to meeting with advisory councils, joint operating boards, Tribal leaders, and individuals who desire to have their voices heard. It encourages the more than 1,300 customer-owners employed by SCF to use their customer-owner perspective in the workplace as well.

In March, SCF conducted another needs assessment in partnership with Dr. Spero Manson. The goals of the 2018 assessment were to provide a more formal update of our knowledge about the top health needs of Alaska Native people, and to gather customer-owner perspectives on SCF’s current services. In eight categories ranging from family and child health to oral health, survey respondents chose their top priorities. Continuous improvement based on feedback from customers has many benefits. It underscores that SCF’s understanding of the health needs of its customer-owners are directly aligned through ongoing feedback with this more formal community perspective. SCF has invested in service expansions and program enhancements. More than
$300 million has been spent to provide markedly expanded facilities meeting the aligned identified health needs. This translates into the addition of more
than 500,000 square feet of clinical space.

The most notable new facility is the Dr. Katherine and Dr. Kevin Gottlieb building, which fully opened on October 1. In the needs assessment customer-owners asked for more services focused on oral health. In support of this, the first two floors and the full basement support a large expansion of dental services — with an emphasis on children. The basement includes state-of-the-art sterilization equipment to support expanded ability to mobilize to rural locations. The new building also supports a large expansion of orthodontics and many additional chairs for regular dental care, bringing to the total to more than 100 dental chairs across SCF locations. This facility also greatly improves the ability to train dental assistants and specialized dentists within SCF.

In 2017, SCF purchased the former Blood Bank of Alaska building located just west of the ANMC campus. Since the acquisition, SCF has completed significant upgrades and renovations to the facility to support the markedly expanded Four Directions program — SCF’s intensive outpatient treatment program for customer-owners struggling with addictions. Once the move is complete, the capacity of Four Direction will quadruple. In alignment with the needs assessment the expanded capacity will also include supporting suicide prevention.

SCF has also contributed significantly to key partnerships with federally recognized Tribes and community organizations. The C’eyiits’ Hwnax Life House community health center in Sutton is a beautiful facility that offers multiple programs collaboratively by Chickaloon and SCF. Significant renovations have occurred in the Benteh Nuutah Valley Native Primary Care Center under the oversight of Knik, Chickaloon, and SCF through a joint operating board. Exploration is currently underway to expand addiction services in the Mat-Su Valley. Past renovations to the facility have greatly expanded the wellness space for the addition of chiropractors, massage therapists and an acupuncturist. Joint efforts with Brother Francis Shelter and Covenant House have resulted in improved facilities and programs in each of those locations.

The Dr. Katherine and Dr. Kevin Gottlieb building, a new home for Four Directions, Benteh Nuutah Valley Native Primary Care Center renovations, C’eyiits’ Hwnax Life House Community Health Center in partnership with Chickaloon, adding SCF Detox and clinics at Brother Francis Shelter and Covenant House, and upgrading and remodeling various program spaces and clinics to include completely rebuilt clinics in Anchorage Native Primary Care 2 North, and Anchorage Native Primary Care 1 North are all the direct result of listening to the voice of the customer. These expansions have more than doubled the square footage of clinical space in the last few years for SCF programs at a cost of $200 million.

The top three floors of the Gottlieb building continue the theme of children and families. The fifth floor is home to a new large effort in support of high needs children and their families — creating a first-in-Alaska neurodevelopmental clinic merged with child and adolescent behavioral health. This creates a single highly capable place for all children with long term challenges — speech, activity, social skills, etc. — related to autism, fetal alcohol effects, traumatic brain injury, and other challenges. The third floor and part of the fourth floor are new, sophisticated clinical and procedure spaces that support medium and high-risk pregnancies, maternal-fetal medicine, gynecology, and gynecologic cancers. Specialized areas and technologies for early diagnosing and treating complex conditions are now available at SCF. This represents a big step forward in bringing the best and the latest services in these specialties.

Additionally, survey respondents identified a priority of supporting healthy lifestyle, such as good nutrition and staying active and building behavioral and emotional health. To support this need two new large primary care clinics are being added to the services offered by renovating 20-year-old existing spaces. Called 1North and 2North, the clinics are located in the northeast wing of the Anchorage Native Primary Care Center. SCF’s clinical spaces are designed to optimize the team approach with an emphasis of respecting cultural values and partnering with customer-owners and families.

The Needs Assessment continued a 25-year trend in the community calling for more behavioral health programs and a capability that effectively addresses trauma, addictions, suicide, and family dynamics. SCF works to ensure that all behavioral health providers and programs are trauma informed. Integrated behavioral health specialists on all primary care teams helps provide immediate access to behavioral health services during primary care visits. Learning circles, with an emphasis on peer support and learning, further improves access to behavioral health topics and services. Learning circles can also lead to immediate screening and progress can be started without the usual required paperwork and formal treatment plans for more structured behavioral health treatment and rehabilitation services.

SCF has grown exponentially over the past 30 years. Every effort is being made to ensure that with growth, SCF’s approach to care continues to remain very personal, respectful, and centered on customer-ownership and personal relationships. All spaces are designed to inspire and create pride and honor while also being comfortable and welcoming. The ability to easily be in relationship, whether among care team members or with customer-owners and families, is central to the colors, textures, and logistics of the new and renovated spaces. SCF invites all customers, partners, and employees to continue to provide feedback as we continue this journey to wellness.