Excerpt from SCF’s 30-year Report

Southcentral Foundation (SCF) recognizes that health care is about people and relationships. Alaska Native people have always lived life in “community,” sharing and caring for one another. And so, from the very beginning, SCF has built its health care system around the understanding that personal relationships make a difference. Relationships are the basis for SCF’s operational principles, and, as such, are at the core of every SCF program and service, as well as infrastructure.

Providers are hired and trained to create trusting, accountable, long-term, relationships with customer-owners. Getting the right diagnosis and prescribing the right medications are only the beginning and only support the real work of relationship building. When there is a relationship between a provider and a customer, there is a better understanding of the context in which the customer lives. Real conversations can be had about ongoing choices and habits. And, it creates a collaborative environment in which individuals are choosing their paths to health and wellness, with support and coaching along the way.Relationships

SCF’s facilities are designed to eliminate unnecessary barriers between those giving and receiving services. As much as possible, a talking room is used rather than an exam room to put the customer-owner on more equal footing with the provider. Wellness is also supported outside the clinic setting, as is the case with programs like SCF’s Family Wellness Warriors Initiative, Alaska Women’s Recovery Project and many others. SCF focuses not only on treatment, but also on getting to the underlying determinants of health and wellness.

Within the workforce, trust, teamwork and personal commitment are critical. SCF has designed its human resources policies, criteria for job progression and career ladder advancement, and other workforce development initiatives to encourage and improve relationship building. Clinic managers are fully immersed in clinic operations by sitting with their support staff and spending time building relationships on the floor. SCF also uses group offices, mentoring and peer-to-peer support.

Because of SCF’s Alaska Native and American Indian customer base, successful relationship building also requires that employees have an understanding of Alaska Native history and family and community values. For example, Alaska Native people have traditionally communicated important points and issues through stories. SCF leadership facilitates mandatory Core Concepts training to teach the ability to connect well with others in story. It reinforces the power of empathy, compassion and relationship building in the health care setting and in everyday life.

SCF’s vision statement describes a Native Community that enjoys physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellness. The mission statement emphasizes getting there by working with (not doing “to” or “for”) the Native Community. SCF uses its operational principles, which spell out “R-E-L-A-T-I-O-N-S-H-I-P-S,” to measure the alignment of any improvement ideas or plans. If there is good alignment, SCF will support the proposed change.

Interested in learning more about how SCF optimizes relationships to transform health care? Check out SCF’s Medical Services White Paper.