What They’re Watching: Al Wall, CEO of Peninsula Community Health Services of Alaska

Al Wall, CEO of Peninsula Community Health Services of Alaska, joins us in this edition of What They’re Watching to talk about integrated health care and some of the exciting and impactful grassroots movements taking place in Alaska.

“I’m really excited about integrated health care. We’ve talked about it for years but the reality about it is that none of us really do it well. I’m the chief executive officer at Peninsula Community Health Services — primary care, behavioral health, and dental all in one spot. And on the outside of it, when you look at it, it says “integrated healthcare.” And you can walk in and see a family practice doctor and a psychiatrist in the same stop if that’s what you need. But the truth of that matter is that we’re not quite as integrated as it seems. We have separate electronic health records for the two different systems… And yet, as I said before, there is hope that that is coming closer to fruition.”

 “One of the things that I really like about Alaska, is that we have the stability, not just to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, but sometimes we get a little tired of waiting for other people to do something for us. We just decide to do it ourselves. And there are pockets around the state of Alaska right now where kind of grassroots movements are doing tremendous things. You know, the state of Alaska made the move with SB 91 and has pushed out the reentry coalitions and set a framework in place, not a detailed framework, but a framework. And there are communities like Kenai, Soldotna that have just said “ok thank you, that’s all we need from you, we’ll take it from here” and have started to draw together a coalition of unlikely partners in a lot of cases. Service providers who have traditionally been not cooperative with each other, a little territorial, who are now working together very nicely to make sure that services are effective and that we can change the social needs of people in a major way. So it’s very impactful when you get grassroots movements going.”