#4 Top Story of 2018: ANTHC Health Aide Training Programs awarded High Honors by Harvard Honoring Nations

December 30, 2018

This story was one of ANTHC’s top news items in 2018. The original story was published in November 2018.

The Harvard Honoring Nations awarded the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium’s three health aide training programs, collaboratively known as the Tribal Community Health Provider Programs, with its High Honors award during a special presentation at the 75th annual National Congress of American Indians conference in Denver, Colorado.

According to The Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development, Honoring Nations “identifies, celebrates and shares excellence in American Indian tribal governance. At the heart of Honoring Nations are the principles that tribes themselves hold the key to generating social, political, and economic prosperity and that self-governance plays a crucial role in building and sustaining strong, healthy Indian Nations.”

Based at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and administered by the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development, the Honoring Nations Award identifies, celebrates, and shares outstanding examples of Tribal governance. Honoring Nations helps expand the capacities of Native nation builders by enabling them to learn from one another’s successes.

“It is such an honor for the Consortium to be named as one of the recipients of the High Honors designation by the 2018 Honoring Nations,” said Dr. Tina Woods, ANTHC Senior Director of Community Health Services. “Our health aide providers are the foundation of the Alaska Tribal Health System. Through self-determination, our people receive health care closer to home.”

ANTHC’s Community Health Aide, Dental Health Aide and Behavioral Health Aide training programs are uniquely Alaska Native-centered programs in Alaska dedicated to expanding culturally appropriate health care at the village level. These programs train Alaska Native people who are on the front line of rural health care, addressing community members’ medical, dental and behavioral health needs within their unique rural settings.

Following an on-site visit of the three health aide training programs in July, ANTHC was named a finalist for the 2018 award. During the visit, three community Elders and Tribal leaders gave personal accounts of the positive impact health aides have in rural Alaska Native communities. Anna Frank, former Health Aide with Tanana Chiefs Conference, James Sipray, Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation, and Mary Schaffer, Maniilaq Association, gave stirring accounts of their time as recipients of health care in their rural areas from health aides and testament to how the programs are the backbone of health care in our rural Native communities.

Schaffer recalls how much technology has changed over the last 50 years, bringing improved health care to our people.

“I am so pleased that ANTHC was honored for their work on the health aide programs over the years. I’m so thankful to ANTHC for providing the training needed to make this possible throughout the state and our regions,” Schaffer said. “Health care has changed and grown so much from the early volunteer stages, to now using telemedicine in many villages.”

“Our Elders’ heartfelt memories and stories of health aides providing care for our people closer to home undeniably tells the story of how important Tribal sovereignty is to our people,” Woods added.

The visiting Harvard Honoring Nations spent the rest of the day visiting ANTHC’s Dental Health Aide Training Center, the new Education and Development Center, the Community Health Aide Training Center and took a tour of the Alaska Native Medical Center hospital. They also enjoyed a taste of traditional foods during lunch including fresh salmon and akutaq (Eskimo ice cream).

Learn more about Honoring Nations and the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development: https://hpaied.org/honoring-nations.

In 2016, Harvard Honoring Nations awarded the Alaska Rural Utility Collaborative, an ANTHC program that was created to manage, operate and maintain water/sewer systems in rural Alaska, with its highest honor. Read more: https://anthc.org/news/alaska-rural-utility-collaborative-earns-highest-honors-and-national-recognition-from-harvard-honoring-nations/.

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