Tackle tobacco this Recovery Month

Opinion: Tackle tobacco this Recovery Month

September is Recovery Month.

September is Recovery Month. Did you know that the most prevalent and most deadly addiction is tobacco? Tobacco use kills almost 700 Alaskans every year; more than all drugs and alcohol combined. Though tobacco is an equal opportunity killer, tobacco use and its deadly effects are experienced almost exclusively in low-income and other vulnerable populations, including people with drug and alcohol use disorder. According to the CDC, 70-90 percent of people with substance use disorder are also addicted to nicotine. Historically people being treated for substance use disorder have been discouraged from quitting their tobacco use. It was believed that quitting smoking was too hard and would compromise a person’s chance at recovery. We know now that that is not true. People who quit smoking during treatment have a 25 percent increased likelihood of long-term sobriety. If any other medication or therapy provided such benefits, everyone would be encouraged to take it. Anyone who uses tobacco products should be encouraged to quit, and as a community, we should adopt policies, such as flavored tobacco restrictions, which prevent youth from becoming nicotine addicted. For help quitting tobacco, please call the Alaska Tobacco Quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW.

Kristin Cox,

Tobacco Prevention for JAMHI Health and Wellness

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Local organizations prepare to celebrate recovery, combat stigma

Events aim to celebrate those in recovery, educate about substance use disorders

For those who are in recovery from a substance use disorder, a little bit of positivity can go a long way.

This month, in celebration of National Recovery Month, Juneau organizations are joining forces to praise those in recovery for their efforts and educate community members about substance abuse recovery resources in town. Carrie Amott, the peer support coordinator for JAMHI (Juneau Alliance for Mental Health, Inc.) Health and Wellness, said the events this month will all be very upbeat and positive.

“Essentially, we’re wanting to celebrate recovery in Juneau,” Amott said. “We want to recognize recovery in Juneau, celebrate it and bring community members together so that they can gain an awareness as to what’s going on within the community as far as treatment services go.”

The main event is Juneau Recovery Fest, which runs from 12:30-4:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 15 at Centennial Hall. There will be food from various local vendors, bouncy houses for the younger crowd, live music, games and Alaska Native drumming. There will also be booths from various organizations such as JAMHI Health and Wellness where people can learn a little more about recovery and the work that is going on in the field locally.

The following Saturday is the annual Hands Across the Bridge event. People will join hands and stretch from end to end of the Douglas Bridge. Attendees will meet at the Federal Building at 1:30 p.m. before heading over to the bridge. It is expected to go until 2:30 p.m., and anybody regardless of age is welcome to join.

These inclusive and positive events aim to change the narrative and eliminate the stigma that surrounds the world of substance use. Amott, who is also in recovery, wrote in a My Turn for the Empire (in today’s edition) that many in the mental health community are using the term “substance use disorder” instead of “addiction.”

She explained in an interview Friday that language is vitally important when talking about these issues, and increasingly negative connotations have befallen terms such as “addiction” and “addict.”

“We realize there is a stigma attached to people that are struggling with substance abuse. We also recognize that language affects how we think and feel about things, and that the words addiction and other similar words have kind of a negative connotation,” Amott said.

Amott is also the chair of Great Bear Recovery Collective, a peer-to-peer group that organizes sober events and excursions and provides support for those struggling with substance use disorder. Events such as Juneau Recovery Fest can help support those in recovery instead of tearing them down, Amott said.

“Positive reinforcement, really acknowledging people’s efforts to change, I think that’s going to be a lot more effective than shaming and making somebody feel horrible,” Amott said, “really because that’s kind of the root cause of a lot of people’s addictions is a lack of self-worth, guilt, poor upbringing, so if you’re compounding that issue, it’s kind of adding to the fire.”

• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 oramccarthy@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.

Drugs in Juneau
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Local group asks governor to consider Juneau a ‘medically underserved population’

Local group asks governor to consider Juneau a ‘medically underserved population’

If approved, more entities could apply for federal funding

Aaron Surma, a consultant for Juneau Alliance for Mental Health, Inc. (JAMHI), speaks during a meeting of the Juneau Coalition on Housing and Homelessness at Gruening Park on Thursday, April 26, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

The Juneau Coalition on Housing and Homelessness wants to broaden the range of organizations that can apply for certain federal funding.

The coalition took a step in that direction as it approved sending a letter to Gov. Bill Walker’s office requesting that Juneau be considered a “medically underserved area” during a meeting at the Gruening Park recreation center Thursday.

According to the Health Resources &Services Administration (HRSA) website, a “medically underserved area” is defined as a “a shortage of primary care health services for residents.” This designation, if approved, would allow multiple entities to apply for federal funding under HRSA. HRSA offers funding for organizations in these areas under this designation.

The HRSA data website also lists 37 areas in Alaska, including Anchorage and Fairbanks, which qualify as a “medically underserved area.”

“It is important because it helps us better be able to sustain the clinic (at Housing First) going forward,” Doug Harris, Chief Integrated Services Officer at Juneau Alliance For Mental Health Inc. (JAMHI), said. Housing First provides housing and care for Juneau residents and focuses on helping the homeless population.

According to the HRSA website, a Federal Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) are “community-based health care providers that receive funds from the HRSA Health Center Program to provide primary care services in underserved areas.” These centers have requirements they must follow including providing care on a sliding fee scale based on ability to pay and operating under a governing board that includes patients.

With the designation, programs like JAMHI would be able to request the funding. Harris said the grant funding JAMHI has right now will last for 18 more months.

Part of the reason for wanting more allowing more entities to get funding is that Alaska has the highest cost per capita in the U.S. for health care.

Currently, only Front Street Community Health Center, under Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) — is able to apply for the incremental funding as it qualifies as a FQHC. The clinic requests funding every three years through HRSA — which is available to any entity. The designation the Coalition is requesting for Juneau would simply allow other entities — that qualify under HRSA and FQHC qualifications — to apply for the funding in between the three year funding gap.

Mark Walker, Division Director at SEARHC, said he feared this could add competition between entities in the area if this designation was approved.

“The fact of the matter is there is a fixed amount in the (funding) pie to go around,” Walker said.

However, Mariya Lovishchuk, executive director at Glory Hole homeless shelter, said she believes it simply opens the doors for other entities to apply and receive funding to help those in need.

“There is still a gap in services,” she said. “There is still additional needs. This makes the pie bigger.”

Walker was unsure if it would be helpful.

“I think the ability for one entity to provide comprehensive care would be compromised,” Walker said.

There is no timetable on when the coalition would know if the city receives the designation.

• Contact reporter Gregory Philson at gphilson@juneauempire.com or call at 523-2265. Follow him on Twitter at @GTPhilson.

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Open to all, new clinic at Housing First gaining patients

Open to all, new clinic at Housing First gaining patients

With insurance or not, fees at community clinic are on a sliding scale, CEO says

Dave Branding, CEO of JAMHI Health & Wellness, Inc., greets Angelina Lundy during an open house at JAMHI’s Midtown Clinic located at the House First Project on Friday, June 22, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

The Juneau Alliance for Mental Health Inc. recently added the phrase “Health and Wellness” to their name.

It’s not a distinction without a difference, said CEO Dave Branding on Friday. The additional words signal a change in philosophy. With the opening of their new Midtown Clinic, JAMHI Health and Wellness has added full-service primary care medicine to its list of services.

Add to that the recent partnership with the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) Juneau, which combined under one roof with JAMHI in February, and JAMHI Health and Wellness is a significantly different organization than it was a year ago.

They have “one mission: whole person health care,” Branding said.

The Midtown Clinic is open to anyone, regardless of ability to pay, Branding told the Empire over barbecue at an open house Friday. The clinic charges clients on a sliding fee scale. It’s located in the bottom floor of the Housing First Facility, positioning it to provide care for the building’s tenants, many of whom are recovering from alcohol dependency or who live with mental or physical disabilities.

Clinic clients don’t need to live in the Housing First facility. The public can join the clinic too, said Chief Integrated Services Officer Doug Harris. The clinic has about 175 patients so far since it opened at the beginning of January. That’s without advertising the clinic at all. Friday’s open house was the first real advertising the clinic has done.

[Nonprofits merge to combine mental health, addition treatments]

Some clients have insurance, others don’t, Harris said. They hope to get about 500 clients total. The facility — three exam rooms, a lobby and a lab — can serve about 12-16 clients a day.

Midtown can afford to do this by applying as a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC). Clinics qualify as FQHCs if they meet certain critieria, Harris said, including having to have patients on its governing board. Health care providers in medically underserved areas can become FQHCs, or clinics that serve the homeless of migrant populations.

Midtown Clinic is applying as an FQHC right now. If Midtown gets certified, they’ll be eligible for receive funds from the Health Resources and Services Administration Health Center Program.

JAMHI Health and Wellness has been a part of the Housing First project since its inception. Planners set out from the start to include a clinic at Housing First as a way to increase Housing First tenant’s access to health care. Housing First opened its 32-unit facility September 2017. It’s “down the elevator, out the door and in” Harris said, from a Housing First unit to the Midtown Clinic.

• Contact reporter Kevin Gullufsen at kgullufsen@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @KevinGullufsen.

Midtown Clinic

Where: 1944 Allen Ct., Juneau

Hours: 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday-Friday

Phone: 463-3303

Payment: A sliding fee scale, depending on your resources and insurance

Walk-ins welcome

JAMHI Health & Wellness Announces Opening of Midtown Clinic

New Clinic Offers Primary Care to All, Regardless of Ability to Pay


JuneauJAMHI Health and Wellness is proud to announce the grand opening of the Midtown Clinic on Friday, June 22 at 11:30 am.  The new clinic, located in the Housing First building in Lemon Creek, is open five days a week to anyone, regardless of insurance coverage or ability to pay.  The clinic is the next step in JAMHI Health and Wellness’s transition into a comprehensive health provider for all residents of Juneau.

Open House

To celebrate the opening of the new clinic there will be an open house on Friday, June 22 at 11:30 am.  The event will feature complimentary BBQ, prizes, tours of the clinic and the ability to meet the medical staff at the new facility.  Prospective patients and community partners are invited to celebrate the opening and learn more about the new services.

New Services

The Midtown Clinic is a part of JAMHI Health and Wellness’s ongoing effort to provide whole health care to everyone in the community, regardless of their ability to afford services.  “There are hundreds of people in our community who are unable to access basic primary care.  With this new clinic, everyone in Juneau, from toddlers to seniors, can walk in, set up an appointment and see a provider, often in the same day.  There is no requirement for people to be an existing JAMHI client or to receive mental health services.  Individuals can receive just primary care from JAMHI at this new clinic” says CEO Dave Branding.


Clinic Information

1944 Allen Court (in the Housing First Building)

8am-4:30 pm, Monday – Friday



Open House Information

Friday, June 22.  11:30am-2pm

1944 Allen Court (in the parking lot)

Food & Prizes

The event will be held rain or shine

For More Information:

Doug Harris

Chief Integration Officer



Nonprofits merge to combine mental health, addiction treatments

Nonprofits merge to combine mental health, addiction treatments

Organizations aim to serve wide range of clients in more convenient fashion

Grants Administrator Linda Landvik, right, and Chief Integrated Services Officer Doug Harris, talk about the recent merging of JAMHI and NCADD (National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence) Juneau to make access to both organizations’ services more convenient for the community. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

The timing was just right.

Those at the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) Juneau had been looking to partner with another agency to expand and diversify its services. Those at the Juneau Alliance for Mental Health, Inc. (JAMHI) were looking to fill gaps in what they offered to the community.

When NCADD’s executive director left for another job in May 2017, Linda Landvik took over as interim executive director. Landvik said conversations started around then with JAMHI about how the two entities could combine services to serve more of Juneau.

“All the circumstances came together so that it worked out that this was the right time to make the move, so we just decided to go with it,” Landvik said. “Everything aligned and everything was in the right place. It was a good time for us to do that, to rethink how we wanted to continue as an organization.”

Just months later, a partnership was formed. The two officially merged in January, going by the name JAMHI Health and Wellness, Inc. Dave Branding, the organization’s CEO, said JAMHI had already taken steps to serve more people but this merger takes it to a different level.

For about 30 years, Branding said, JAMHI has provided services for those struggling with mental health. Among other services, it offers emergency mental health services, clinical assessments, therapy sessions, group classes and housing through community partnerships. NCADD has been in Juneau since 1965, offering similar services but with a focus on substance abuse treatment.

Now, those in need of mental health care and substance abuse treatment can go to the same organization. It makes referrals and treatment easier, Chief Integrated Services Officer Doug Harris said.

“I really saw chemical dependency specific services as one of the areas that JAMHI could beef up,” Harris said. “We’ve integrated primary care, so we’ve got that taken care of, so with the merger underway we have since brought on staff specific for chemical dependency services.”

This is not the first partnership JAMHI has made in recent years. The organization partnered with the Housing First Collaborative to build a clinic in the Housing First facility in the Lemon Creek area. Initially, that clinic was only serving the residents at Housing First — which houses 32 people who were either living on the street or in dire need of a safe place to live.

Since the beginning of January, that clinic has also been open to the public. It provides service on a sliding pay scale, Harris said, meaning that payment is catered to each client depending on whether they have insurance or how much they can afford to pay. Through this, Harris hopes the clinic can serve a wide range of clients.

The clinic currently features three exam rooms and will soon have a medication coordinator to help people obtain the medication they need. It will also soon offer dental care. The clinic, located at 1944 Allen Ct., is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Another population the merger might benefit is recently released inmates. NCADD offers re-entry and recovery support coaching and programming. JAMHI offers case management services, help with housing and medication assistance. Together, Landvik said, the two organizations can make the difficult process of leaving prison a little easier.

“To have such a bigger variety of services just is incredible,” Landvik said. “We don’t have to search around to try and find those things. They’re under one roof. It works so much better.”

• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or alex.mccarthy@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.

JAMHI Announces Primary and Behavioral Health Care Integration


JAMHI Announces Primary and Behavioral Health Care Integration

August 19, 2015

JUNEAU – Juneau Alliance for Mental Health, Inc., (JAMHI) announced today that it has been awarded a four-year federal grant to provide integrated services through the co-location of primary care medical services and behavioral health care at their community behavioral health center on Glacier Highway. “Funded by the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the program’s objective is to support the triple aim of improving the health of individuals with serious mental illness and those with co-occurring disorders, enhancing their experience of care, and reducing/controlling the per capita cost of care”, said Pam Watts, JAMHI Executive Director. The project is slated to begin October 1.

“We have long known that people with serious mental illness experience a higher incidence of diabetes, hypertension, obesity, high cholesterol and other health problems than do others, and now we have an opportunity to turn the tide,” said Watts. These conditions and increased mortality can be attributed to a number of issues including inadequate physical activity and poor nutrition, smoking, side effects of medications, and lack of access to health care services.

Many of these health conditions are preventable through routine health promotion activities, primary care screening, monitoring, treatment and care management/coordination and other outreach programs. JAMHI will expand their Evidence Based Practices to include medical care, physical health, prevention, and wellness interventions. Additions to their staff will include a primary care provider, wellness coordinator, peer support specialist, and nurse care coordinator.

Now in its thirtieth year of operation, JAMHI has long been recognized statewide as a progressive leader in the behavioral health field for individually tailored services, high quality care, same-day access to services, tele-behavioral health service delivery to rural communities and other innovations.

JAMHI looks forward to expanding their behavioral health services to include primary care and wellness to help persons served achieve their healthcare goals.