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Updated February 17, 2005
This project of the Bristol Bay Area Health Corporation, also called Ikayurtem Unatai (Helping Hands in Yup'ik), responds to the needs of people dying in isolated, rural village communities in southwest Alaska. For many Alaska Natives, living in the rugged land of their ancestors surrounded by natural beauty adds quality and meaning to life. Currently, many Alaska Natives are forced to leave their villages for hospitals in Dillingham or Anchorage to receive medical care as they die. They often spend the last days of their lives away from family, friends and their community, putting them at significant risk for suffering.
In this program, Alaska's community health aides serve dying patients in 34 southwestern Alaska villages, while receiving consultation and direction via radio or phone from medical staff in Dillingham.
In addition, trained volunteers care for dying patients and offer support to grieving families. These volunteers are trained utilizing the highly successful Volunteer Emergency Medical Service Program. Bristol Bay Area Health Corporation also is developing a curriculum and training program for all its health care workers on death, dying and hospice care.
Read a detailed profile of the Bristol Bay Area Health Corporation Helping Hands program. The profile includes a brief synopsis of program characteristics, successes, challenges and more.
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Promoting Excellence in End-of-Life Care is a national program of The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation dedicated to long-term changes in health care institutions to substantially improve care for dying people and their families. Visit PromotingExcellence.org for more resources.