Welcome from our new DHSS Commissioner

Dear DHSS Colleagues and DHSS News Subscribers,

Far too often, we at DHSS find ourselves involved in negative articles or media reports in regards to our department. While continuous improvement in the effectiveness of our services and the support we provide to our clients is important, sometimes our positive accomplishments go unreported or unnoticed. I’d like to address this by sharing some of the successes we’ve recently enjoyed:

  • Our agency’s earthquake response, led by the DHSS Emergency Operations Center (EOC) team, recently received high compliments at an Alaska State Hospital and Nursing Home Association (ASHNHA) meeting. ASHNHA thanked the DHSS EOC for its strong coordination, organization and clear communication with area hospitals throughout the earthquake response. Thank you to Heidi Hedberg, Section Chief for Rural and Community Health Systems within the Division of Public Health, and her team for their outstanding emergency response efforts during the earthquake. You can read more about the role of DHSS during emergencies in this newsletter. Alaska was fortunate to have ZERO fatalities associated with the earthquake!
  • We have seen a marked decrease in opioid related deaths in 2018. Thank you to Dr. Jay Butler, our former DHSS Commissioner, Director of Public Health and Chief Medical Officer, and Andy Jones, Director of the Office of Substance Misuse and Addiction Prevention, for their vigilant efforts responding to this ongoing issue and their important prevention work.
  • I personally received an email from an individual who utilized public assistance and Medicaid but as of November, no longer qualified nor needed these programs. They remarked how these services helped them to improve their life, and how proud they were to no longer need them, thereby freeing up those resources for others in need.

These are just a few examples of the benefits of the work we do in promoting the health and well-being of Alaskans. I wish you and your families the happiest of holiday seasons and best wishes for the New Year.

Adam Crum, M.S.P.H
DHSS Commissioner


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