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MEHS Student Health Center receives construction grant

SITKA, Dec. 12, 2011 — The SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) Mt. Edgecumbe High School Student Health Center was awarded a $233,000 grant on Dec. 8 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as part of the Affordable Care Act.

The grant was one of 45 grants worth $14 million awarded to school-based health centers around the country so they can expand their capacity and modernize their facilities. The Mt. Edgecumbe High School (MEHS) Student Health Center was the only Alaska facility to receive one of the grants. Mt. Edgecumbe High School (MEHS) is a statewide boarding school based in Sitka operated by the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development. SEARHC has been operating the MEHS Student Health Center in partnership with the state since 2007.

“This will take a good clinic space and make it a great clinic space,” said Kari Lundgren, PA-C, a physician assistant and clinic manager for the MEHS Student Health Center. “It will allow us to expand services.”

The grant will renovate and improve the MEHS Student Health Center clinic space, which is 1,000 square feet of old dormitory space. The money will be used to make the space more compliant to the American Disability Act and HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, the federal health privacy law), while other renovations to improve cleanliness, safety and clinic office flow. The money also will be used to upgrade the sick bay rooms. Half of the project will feature major renovations and the other half will be minor fixes.

The MEHS Student Health Center serves 407 students from 105 Alaska communities. Nearly 80 percent of the students are Alaska Native, so SEARHC works with the state’s other tribal health care organizations to make sure the students receive the highest quality of health care both in Sitka and their home villages. Students are able to access basic medical services at the school clinic, and they can receive advanced medical, dental, eye care, behavioral health and wellness services from the nearby SEARHC S’áxt Hít Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital and SEARHC health campus in Sitka. The MEHS Student Health Center is accredited by the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC).

The MEHS Student Health Center is open seven days a week, from 7:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. The clinic is staffed by two mid-level providers (Clinic Manager Kari Lundgren, PA-C, and Kristen Homer, ANP) and three regular school nurses (Michele Mork, RN, Jill Johnson, LPN, Kathy Eggen, LPN, and Audra Whiting, LPN). In addition, several itinerant nurses help the clinic provide seven-day-a-week coverage, with Kelly Ferguson, RN, and Nikki Stromquist, RN, being two of the more active itinerant nurses.

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