5 Things Alaska: Q&A with Jared Kosin, Levels of depression, Steve Williams

I want to feature a virtual conversation we’re hosting on race and health care, which you’ll see in item 2 below. Now is a time to be reflective about our biases, the benefits or detriments of our skin color, and how we can foster conversations that will have a measurable and positive impact moving forward. So, I hope you’ll consider finding time to join that conversation next week.

Until then, here are a few things we think are worth tracking in Alaska health care and health policy for the month of June, 2020.





With help from Emily Boerger

1. Q&A: Jared Kosin, ASHNHA

Jared Kosin is the President and CEO of the Alaska State Hospital and Nursing Home Association (ASHNHA) which represents over 65 hospitals, nursing homes, and health care organizations across the state. Kosin joins us in this Q&A to discuss Alaska’s response to COVID-19, lessons learned during the pandemic, unique challenges in the state, and the steps hospitals and nursing homes are taking to prepare for a potential second wave of cases.

“The impact on revenues has been substantial and recovering from that is a challenge,” said Kosin. “The federal aid coming in has been helpful, but making sense of what this is going to look like, how people are going to finish for the year, do facilities have adequate reserves to cover this, and what does that mean for maintenance and things like that, that is all playing out right now.”

2. Virtual event: Black leadership in US health care and health policy

Next week, we host a virtual conversation with three leaders I hold in the highest esteem across our entire nine state footprint. They also happen to be Black. So, on June 19th – also known as Juneteenth – we will hold a discussion of how health care organizations can grapple with the structural racism built into American institutions. We’ll hear their thoughts, their lessons, and their counsel on how best to address the topic of race in US health care drawn from their experience as Black leaders in the sector.

The panel includes Eric Hunter of CareOregon, Demetria Malloy, MD of Anthem Medicaid in California, and Rep. Garnet Coleman, a 30-year legislator out of Houston, Texas. It’s a tremendous honor that these three folks are coming together to join in a multi-state conversation. I hope you’ll find time to listen and to be part of the conversation with us next week.

3. Acute mental health impacts on horizon

Outside of Alaska, in Washington State, the Dept. of Health there produced a chilling document about the mental health impacts from COVID. It wasn’t meant for public distribution, but I think it’s a compelling look at how this COVID pandemic is likely to impact us over time. I’ve never seen something quite like it, so I think it’s worth sharing to our Alaska readers, given the unique challenges of latitude and darkness in the winter months.

The document says we are at the height of the “honeymoon period” right now, with a long decline in well being ahead of approximately the one year anniversary. The document predicts up to 60% of the population will experience some form of depression. About “half of the individuals who experience a behavioral health diagnosis will develop a substance-related disorder.” “Behavioral health symptoms including anxiety, trouble sleeping, stomach aches, and headaches will be consistent in the general population in the summer months of 2020.”


4. Video: Steve Williams, Mental Health Trust

Steve Williams is the Chief Operating Officer of the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority. Williams recently joined us for our “5 Slides: How philanthropy is addressing COVID-19” virtual conversation where he discussed the Trust’s work during the public health crisis. This month, we’re featuring his comments from our edition of “What They’re Watching” to discuss the crisis continuum of mental health care.

“We’re really concerned about the psychiatric crisis continuum of care. Everything from trying to prevent people in psychiatric crisis from going into emergency rooms to ending up at API, our psychiatric institution, when we know that there are a plethora of services in between there that, if they were available, would avoid crisis and higher levels of cost and care.”


5. HHS awards $2.4 million to Alaska Tribes

The US Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently awarded $2.4 million to 9 different Tribes and Tribal organizations in Alaska to help respond to COVID-19 in rural tribal communities. The funding is part of $15 million in total awards to 52 Tribes, Tribal organizations, and urban Indian health organizations across 20 states.

The funding will go to the Ahtna’ T’Aene Nene, the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, the Kenaitze Indian Tribe, the Mentasta Traditional Council, the Native Village of Tatitlek, Norton Sound Health Corporation, Southcentral Foundation, the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium, and the Village Of Aniak. The complete list of awards is available here.