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POW Health Network Leads Effort to Improve Behavioral Health System on Prince of Wales Island


February 22, 2011

(SitNews) - The Prince of Wales Health Network held a two day strategic planning meeting on January 26-27 in Craig to discuss the behavioral health services available on Prince of Wales Island (POW), and begin developing a strategic plan to address the full continuum of services on POW, from prevention to intervention, treatment and aftercare.  Participants included local residents and stakeholders, service providers, and State representatives.  The meeting was facilitated by Agnew::Beck Consulting.  Agnew Beck has been working with the POW Health Network on the Behavioral Health Planning Project since July of 2009.

The project began with a needs assessment that was conducted in the second half of 2009, and finalized in spring of 2010.  A capacity building meeting was held in September of 2010, and the January strategic planning meeting represents the 3rd step in this process.  At the strategic planning meeting, participants discussed services currently available on POW and areas for improvement to the system.  The group identified six overall goals to include in the POW Behavioral Health Strategic Plan.

These goals are 1) Improve Communication and Collaboration between and among Service Providers and

Stakeholders; 2) Increase Awareness of Existing Programs, Services and Resources; 3) Improve Response to Behavioral Health Emergencies; 4) Increase Access and Quality of Services; 5) Prevent Interpersonal Violence and Promote Healthy Lifestyles; and 6) Expand Services.

The next step is to formally convene a POW Behavioral Health Coalition.  This coalition is now being formed, and will be facilitated by the POW Health Network.  The coalition will also serve as an advisory committee to the POW Health Network.  The first meeting of the coalition is expected to occur in spring of this year.  At that time the group will further refine the strategic plan that was outlined in January and begin assigning tasks.  The coalition will continue to include local representatives and stakeholders, as well as service providers and State representatives.  The collaboration of all groups from the local level through the State level will be key to creating systems change for the benefit of POW residents.

According to Diane Casto, Manager for the State of Alaska Division of Behavioral Health Prevention & Early Intervention, “The work of the POW Health Network is a perfect example of what community action is all about—bringing together the right people, using data to identify the critical issues of the community, engage members toward positive change and keep the focus on the community and its citizens.  The POW Health Network has done an amazing job of developing community ownership of the process to assess the behavioral health needs of POW; developing community readiness and capacity to address these issues, and engaging all interested citizens in the hard work of coalition-building and community partnerships.  This is the way to make meaningful and lasting change in a community.”

This project has been funded by a Comprehensive Prevention & Early Intervention Services grant from the State of Alaska Division of Behavioral Health, with additional support provided by the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority.  POW Health Network members are PeaceHealth, SEARHC, Craig Public Health and Alaska Island Community Services.

Meeting minutes and more information can be found on the POW Health Network website at  You may also contact Esther Hammerschlag, POW Health Network Director, at 826-2410 or



Source of News:

Prince of Wales Health Network


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