Nenana Wellness Coalition
The Nenana Wellness Coalition is an alliance of representatives from various organizations, government agencies, community groups and individuals that meets weekly to discuss, evaluate, coordinate, consolidate, celebrate and help implement plans for improving the wellness and quality of life in Nenana Alaska.
There were 19 participants this week, including: David Poppe, Kat McElroy, Bonnie Reed, Carl & Tim Horn, Donald Charlie, Audrey Roth, Virginia Young, Diane Kelly, Maryellen Robinson, Rebecca & Bill Troxel, Wes & Mary Alexander, Drew Mackey, Miles & Irene Martin, Merrily Verhagen, and Mike Smith. We enjoyed a moose/pasta casserole, mixed greens salad, home-made whole grain bread with butter, sliced cheese with Ritz crackers, Raisins & walnuts and brownies for lunch.
WELCOME followed by the READING OF MISSION STATEMENT, by this week’s chairperson: Rebecca Troxel.
PRAYER was lead by Bill Troxel, followed by the PLEDGE OF ALLEGIENCE.
PRESENTATION OF AGENDA AND CALL FOR MODIFICATIONS: There were two modifications to the agenda.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES: Minutes were posted at www.railbelt.com on the WIN link and submitted to the WIN e-list by Kat McElroy.
INTRODUCTION OF GUESTS: Kat introduced Diane Kelly. She is here from Michigan; her husband Ray works as an engineer at Clear Air Station. They are looking for a home to buy in the area.
Old Minto Family Recovery Camp: Donald Charlie began his presentation by giving some background information of the camp which is located at the site of the old village of Minto. Due to repeated flooding of the village which is on the Tanana River, the village was relocated in the 1970’s to its present site which is on the road system. The old village of Minto was then used as a Spirit Camp over the years and a Cultural Heritage Camp was created. Don handed out promotional fliers which stated in part: Our Mission of the Old Minto Family Recovery Camp (OMFRC) is to help people help themselves by healing spiritually, emotionally and mentally by drawing on the strength of the Native culture and traditional values The primary goal of OMFRC is to provide Alaska Native individuals and families with skills to help them live healthy and substance free lives within their communities. We hope to increase the percentage of Alaskan Natives committed to long-term sobriety, cultural pride and traditional Athabascan Values. OMFRC is a short-term (35 day cycle) residential care camp that has been in operation since 1989, under Indian Health Service (IHS) and State funds. OMFRC serves approximately 90 adults annually, with an overall treatment completion rate of 81%. OMFRC simulates an Interior Athabascan village environment designed to remind patients of simpler times when our people were connected to the land for survival and relied on the strength of community and family. OMFRC is located in the very remote rural setting of the Old Minto historical site. Tribal elders from Minto play a consultative role in developing and implementing services at the camp site. The most important aspect of the role is to ensure that materials and strategies are culturally appropriate and relevant. Current Program Service Components Pre-Treatment Services Designed to ensure all persons seeking service receive some level of services immediately upon request. These services include: individual sessions and case management, participation in our support groups, and development of a treatment plan for camp. The purpose is to maintain or advance the persons motivation for treatment and to ensure the client’s needs are being met prior to entering treatment. Strengthening Families Program Through our extended family, we retain, teach, and live the Athabascan way. We are responsible for the survival of our cultural spirit and the values and traditions through which it survives. Continuing Care Services Continuing Care Services (CCS) offers counseling for up to 20 active patients that include individual, group, and family counseling sessions. In addition, case management is available to assist individuals and families to become self-reliant, independent and live sober lives. For persons outside the Fairbanks area, we work collaboratively with village-based counselors and local agencies to provide support and consistency in treatment to meet individual needs. Phone and e-mail support are also provided and group sessions are available on a walk-in basis. Don said that the main office for OMFRC is on the fourth floor of the TCC building in Fairbanks. There are 11 employees currently, including: 2 primary care counselors, 2 traditional counselors, 2 camp counselors, 2 continuing care counselors, a family therapist, a clinical supervisor, and 2 laborers. They have a capacity of 16 adult clients and however many children are associated with those clients. Clients come from all over the state, as far north as Barrow, south as Ketchikan and Juneau, the Western coast and all over the Interior. Here clients have an opportunity to learn how to remain sober while living a subsistence life style. Donald said the have a generator for electric for the kitchen and two main cabins but the client’s cabins use Blazo for light. They hope to extend electric service to the entire camp in the future. Clients cut, pack and split firewood for each of the buildings. They haul water or melt ice from the river for drinking, cooking and cleaning. There is a sauna. One of the client’s chores is to prepare meals which are eaten communally. Children are home-schooled through school correspondence programs. They have two meetings per day except for Sundays, 10 A.M. thru Noon and 7 P.M. thru 9 P.M. 1:30- 4:00 P.M. clients spend time with the traditional counselors learning subsistence skills such as how to build a birch wood dog sled, hunt, fish, trap, gather and preserve food. The camp has four boats they use for chores and transportation. They have snow-machines and 4-wheelers. Access to camp is by boat during the summer and by plane or snow-go in the winter. Air service is provided by charter via Wright Air. Staff work one week on/one week off; they change out on Thursdays. In response to questions, Donald explained that clients come in as a cohort. Late clients will be accepted up to five days late. After that, they would have to wait for the next cohort. Clients can be excused for up to five days to leave cam0p for medical care but any longer than that and they would have to begin again with the next cohort. They do have the option of staying for a second 35 day episode; this decision would be made by consensus with the client, primary counselor and clinical staff, as indicated. Donald said his sense of success rate is “maybe about 15%.” He talked about some of the dynamics involved. Clients are provided access to the TCC jobs list and future planning is emphasized during treatment to support ongoing recovery. There is a waitlist. Pregnant women and IV drug abusers are given priority admit. OMFRC will provide treatment services to anyone without regard to race or ethnicity. There are plans to increase capacity by two more cabins, funding permitting. The camp closes each year during break up, from the end of April til June. During this six week period, staff receives professional development training. Clients come to OMFRC from multiple referral streams, including: Office of Children’s Services, tribal courts, adult probation and criminal justice and other treatment providers. In the case of OCS referral, every effort is made to have the children with the client(s) for at least the final two weeks of the treatment episode. Donald explained that they cannot accept sex offenders into the program and they look very closely with an eye towards safety at those with a criminal background including DV, physical abuse or assault. They can accept clients from Fairbanks Correctional Center with treatment serving in lieu of jail; time for certain offenders with alcohol-related offenses. Wes asled if they have guest speakers; Donald replied they have people who have come in to speak to the clients about HIV/AIDS, tobacco cessation, and TCC Jobs Program. They have visitors. If guests become unruly or are unable to follow rules, they are asked to leave. There have been a few instances where the troopers have had to be called. Treatment is funded through state and federal grants and they are applying to be fundable through Medicaid. The last Friday of every July, clients put on a Sobriety Potlatch which is open to anybody to attend. Clients hunt and gather and prepare foods and serve in the traditional style.Donald bragged that last year OMFRC was surveyed number one in the state and number five nationally for family recovery camps. They are number one for Best Practices. They have had people come from many other nations wanting to see how they can replicate this model of treatment in their own countries, built upon their own traditional cultural values and practices. Donald encouraged people to tell their legislators to support funding for treatment efforts such as Old Minto. Envisioning Wellness: Tim said that Tara has agreed to do another Weed Walk, tentatively scheduled for May 11, depending of course on break-up. Per Kathy Morgan’s suggestion, Mike has agreed to attend the next NNC meeting to formally request a council member to present to us on the tribes future plans and visions for wellness in Nenana. The next meeting is April 6th. Mike will call Kathy to arrange. April 13th we will have Envisioning Wellness strategic planning using the medicine wheel model. Health Fair Recap: We had 37 blood draws, up from last year. We had over 5o volunteers and exhibitors. We don’t know how many people accessed the health fair this year.
We need to do thank you cards to our primary sponsors: Coghill’s, Ice Classic, and Doyon. Anecdotally, we have heard of at least one person who was contacted directly by clinic staff and is receiving treatment due to blood test results.
Bill: Freecycle at the tribal hall April 30th. Jeannie Bennett is in charge.
Miles: has space to share in his greenhouse and lots of flats of starts. 832-5442.
Don’t forget the Easter party at the city library Saturday 1-3 P.M.
Tim: Next week at the school they have the national standard testing. April 14 – 18th is band fest in Valdez. Also on the 18th is the Secret Sister luncheon.
Mary: Good to be back.
Thursday April 1st ATV Education club meeting at 5:30 at the tribal hall.
Tim and Kat are collecting funds to help Walter and Andrea defray expenses after their hasty trip to Seattle. Walter had surgery for throat cancer and will need radiation treatment upon his return after April 1st. Kat 832-1078. Tim 832-1047.
WELLNESS THOUGHT: Each and every thought, be it of depression or happiness, irritation or calmness, anger or serenity, does actually cut subtle grooves in the brain cells and strengthen the tendencies either towards illnesses or well-being. Google that!