Norton Sound Health Corporation

News & Events

Medical Provider Under Investigation for Opioid Diversion


NSHC Press Release

Monday, June 5, 2017

During the later days of July 2016, Alaska State Troopers notified the Administration of Norton Sound Health Corporation (NSHC) that an opioid diversion investigation involving several patients of a NSHC medical provider had begun. NSHC immediately began to cooperate with this investigation. In addition, NSHC began its own internal investigation regarding possible diversion of opioid prescription drugs being prescribed by a NSHC medical provider. As the internal investigation progressed, it became very clear that an excessive amount of opioid narcotics were being prescribed to a group of NSHC patients. NSHC requested that the provider voluntarily surrender their DEA controlled substance prescribing ability, and an agreement was reached that the provider would comply with the surrender. The Alaska State Medical Board was immediately notified of the surrender. NSHC was notified by the Alaska State Medical Board that it had begun an investigation into the prescribing habits of the provider. NSHC to-date has not been advised by the medical board that it has completed its investigation.

Alaska State Troopers referred its investigation to the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit of the Alaska Attorney General’s office for criminal investigation. The Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services joined this investigation and issued administrative subpoenas for documents regarding the prescribing practices of the NSHC provider. These investigations are still underway. The DEA deferred investigation to the Alaska state agencies and NSHC has fully cooperated with all investigations.

NSHC’s internal investigation was conducted by an outside entity so as to ensure a fair and impartial investigation would take place. The internal investigation spanned over a period of months and many witnesses were questioned including the provider who was given a full opportunity to give their side of the story. The NSHC investigation was presented in-full to the NSHC Board of Directors who fully supported the decision of NSHC Administration to no longer contract with the provider, thereby ending years of over-prescribing narcotics to a group of NSHC patients.

It is important to note that the NSHC Board of Directors is directly responsible for the health needs and safety of the Alaska Native people it serves. This responsibility is taken with utmost seriousness by each and every Board member. To have taken no action in this situation would be a violation of that trust to the citizens it serves. The Board of Directors would like to thank the current medical staff at NSHC for its courageous effort to identify and treat the many patients that were cast into addiction by this provider and for the tireless work in establishing a Pain Management Committee to ensure these patients were treated and properly taken care of.

NSHC will continue to cooperate with the above referenced investigations but wish to point out that the decision that each Board member supported to not renew the contract of the provider in question was not predicated on any external investigation. This decision was based on the NSHC internal investigation and the overwhelming evidence contained therein.

NSHC Board of Directors

NSHC Community Health Needs Assessment


NSHC Community Health Needs Assessment

Is a report based on Community Health Needs surveys completed in NSHC's 16 communities.

Nome Hospital Named Among Nation's Top 20 Most Beautiful


Norton Sound Regional Hospital voted as #6 on beauty list

Brought to by Soliant Health

Nome, Alaska – Norton Sound Health Corporation is proud to receive a spot among the Top 20 Most Beautiful Hospitals in the U.S. The distinction comes from Soliant Health, a leading specialty healthcare staffing provider and part of the Adecco Group.

For its eighth year, Soliant Health opened up an 11-month long nomination period to hospitals across America to see which hospitals reign supreme in beauty and community support. The nomination period collected more than 70 entries, the most diverse set to date. Only four states this year, including Alaska, had multiple hospital nominations, while the rest of the hospitals were the sole representatives of their states.

Norton Sound Regional Hospital received 10,899 votes in the month-long voting period. With support from employees, friends, community members and the healthcare industry workers, NSHC's Nome hospital jumped up five spots from its 2013 11th place ranking.

The new Norton Sound Regional Hospital opened in 2013, replacing a facility that was one-third the size and 60 years old. It features plenty of natural light on each of its three floors, with views of the Bering Sea and tundra landscape. Artwork, including traditional apparel, paintings, ivory carvings and beadwork, is displayed throughout the hospital. As the largest building in Nome, the hospital sticks out as a beautiful tribute to the meshing of regional culture and modern health care.

Soliant Health's Top 20 Most Beautiful Hospitals of 2016:

1. Doctors Memorial Hospital

2. Elmhurst Hospital
3. McKay-Dee Hospital
4. Bear River Valley Hospital
5. Riverview Medical Center
6. Norton Sound Regional Hospital
7. Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC
8. White Plains Hospital
9. Summit Pacific Medical Center
10. Sioux Center Health
11. Flagler Hospital
12. Logan Regional Hospital
13. Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital
14. PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center at Riverbend
15. Intermountain LDS Hospital
16. Franklin Woods Community Hospital
17. Soin Medical Center
18. HealthPark Medical Center
19. Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital
20. Pinnacle Health – West Shore

Apply: National Native Youth Initiative Program


Norton Sound Health Corporation would like to highlight a learning opportunity for Alaska Native high school students who are interested in pursuing a health career.

If you’re between the ages of 16 and 18, you can apply for the National Native American Youth Initiative program. Students will travel to Washington, D.C. from July 1st to July 10th to learn about various health professions, college and medical school admission processes, financial aid resources, and health care issues affecting American Indian and Alaska Native communities.

Scholarships are available to cover airfare, lodging, and most meals.

You must apply by May 13th.

NSHC Implements Team Approach to Health Care


Patient-Centered Medical Home model arrives in Norton Sound

Nome, Alaska – A new era of care is beginning at the Norton Sound Health Corporation. After moving into a state-of-the-art facility in Nome in 2013 and implementing a fully integrated electronic health record in 2014, the corporation is poised to enhance health care in a new way.

NSHC is taking a team approach in order to help patients navigate the healthcare system. The Patient-Centered Medical Home is a model that has been implemented in health organizations nationwide, and it now has taken root in the Bering Strait region. At its core, the system is focused on Population Health Management, which allows practices to identify prevalent health needs and determine how to prevent or meet those needs.

For starters, patients will be connected to a medical team, consisting of healthcare providers and case managers.

Patients in Unalakleet, Saint Michael, Stebbins, Shaktoolik, and Koyuk belong to the "River Team." The "Tundra Team" consists of patients in Elim, Golovin, White Mountain, Savoonga, Shishmaref and half of Nome. The other half of Nome, Gambell, Wales, Teller, Diomede and Brevig Mission patients are on the "Mountain Team."

With a team of people working on your care, your providers will be more up-to-speed on your medical history, and they'll be able to suggest treatment options that make sense for you. Case managers will play a proactive role in the team, working with you and your doctors for preventive health screenings, disease management and providing outreach for total wellness. The goal of this approach is to improve wellness and prevention, as well as travel efficiency and medication services. With the Cerner electronic health record in place, there will be an easy transition for patients throughout the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium.

Implementation is underway, and you may notice the next time you have an appointment that you've been assigned to a team. Ask your provider to learn more about your team and who your point of contact should be.

With this new approach, NSHC patients can count on access, prevention and consistency for years to come.

Media Contact: Reba Lean, Public Relations Specialist, at (907) 443-9674

NSHC Recognizes Work of Village-Based Counselors this BHA Celebration Month


Governor: Celebrate Behavioral Health Aides Statewide

NSHC recognizes work of village-based counselors this BHA Celebration Month

Nome, Alaska – The tireless work of first responders to mental health in rural communities is being recognized this month.

Gov. Bill Walker signed a proclamation declaring November 2015 as Behavioral Health Aide Celebration Month. Valerie Davidson, commissioner of the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, read the proclamation at the seventh-annual Behavioral Health Aide Forum at the beginning of the month.

Davidson gave the keynote address at the forum, speaking to the support behavioral health aides provide to their communities and to each other.

"Some days are really, really tough – and you know that more than anybody – but we're going to make it because we're all in this together," Davidson said.

As part of the forum, which included hours of training for certification requirements, BHAs from across the state were honored for their outstanding service.

Emma Olanna, a recently retired NSHC village-based counselor from Brevig Mission, received the "In Appreciation" award. Olanna, who has a bachelor's degree in social work, worked for six years and achieved a training level of Behavioral Health Aide-Practitioner. She was also a chemical dependency counselor and the co-chair of the Liitfik Cultural Committee, a group tasked with planning for a wellness and treatment center for the Norton Sound.

Teresa Perry, a NSHC village-based counselor who unexpectedly passed away this summer, was honored with the "In Memoriam" award. Perry's family received the award, presented by fellow NSHC BHAs who said Perry was a mentor known for supporting and motivating her colleagues. Perry worked for NSHC for more than 18 years.

Gov. Walker's proclamation noted the work behavioral health aides do as counselors, educators and advocates to help address substance abuse and mental health challenges. He encouraged Alaskans to celebrate BHAs, whose work promotes health and healing across the state.

"We are so pleased to see Governor Walker recognize the hard work of behavioral health aides," said Lucy Apatiki, vice president of NSHC's Community Health Services. "NSHC's Village-Based Counselors work behind the scenes as the first responders of their communities' behavioral health and truly are unsung heroes."

Apatiki said NSHC's village-based counselors demonstrate a commitment to community health with their longevity of service and integrity.

NSHC Scholarship


Education is Expensive
We Can Help!

Norton Sound Health Corporation offers scholarships/internships for eligible students who are pursuing higher education.

Depending on the needs of the corporation, students pursuing the medical field (such as physicians, nursing, pharmacy, and physician assistants) may have priority.

NSHC may fund students pursuing a non-medical related degree if the degree will help further the vision and mission of the organization.

Tribal Members from the Bering Straits Region, who commit to returning to the region and possible employment with NSHC, will have priority.

Fulfill the requirements, fill out an application, and you can earn financial aid to assist you toward your education goal!

Scholarship Deadlines:
• Graduating Senior Due Date: April 30
• Fall Term Due Date: June 30
• Spring Term Due Date: December 31

Belinda Mattingley
Education Coordinator
Phone: 907-443-4508
Fax: 907-443-2085

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