What is Southcentral Foundation’s Nuka System of Care?

Integrated Care

Southcentral Foundation’s Nuka System of Care is the name given to SCF’s whole health care system created, managed and owned by Alaska Native people to achieve physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellness. Nuka is an Alaska Native word used for strong, giant structures and living things.

You may have seen the SCF tagline “Alaska Native People Shaping Health Care.” But what does it mean?

In 1982, SCF was incorporated under the tribal authority of Cook Inlet Region, Inc. Alaska Native people assumed management of the health care system from the Indian Health Service in 1984 when Public Law 92-638 was signed into law. In 1998, Southcentral Foundation completed the assumption of ownership and management of primary care and other programs located in the Anchorage Native Primary Care Center. It was then that SCF leadership sought input from Alaska Native and American Indian people on the health care system. Feedback included the desire to have improved access to primary care, to see one provider, to have same day access, for the facilities to be a clean, healing environment, and to own the  services provided and their wellness.

Alaska Native people also shared the top five needs of the community: ending domestic violence, child sexual abuse, child neglect, and addressing addiction and alcohol through a focus on behavioral health.

Using this feedback, SCF instituted significant philosophical and other changes in the design and administration of programs and services. SCF launched a total system-wide transformation of care, increasing the quality and adaptability of programs —and more importantly—the accountability of providers and customers alike. Alaska Native and American Indian people are in charge of designing and delivering health care.

“Southcentral Foundation’s Nuka System of Care is about customer-ownership, relationships and whole system transformation,” SCF President/CEO Dr. Katherine Gottlieb said. “It includes all aspects of what we do and how we do it — from leadership to service delivery, to finance to human resources.”

As a health care organization, SCF offers more than just a primary care center supported by specialty clinics. It is a system of care driven by Alaska Native and American Indian customer-owners. Customer-owners have a foundation creating long-term relationships and control of their own health care with integration of the mind, body and spirit, and a commitment to measurement and quality.

The Nuka System of Care is built upon three simple, yet revolutionary, philosophies:

  • Customer-ownership – Not called patients, customer-owners are treated as equals and share decision-making for their health and wellness. Health care is a service, of which they’re customers and they own their health and the health care system.
  • Relationships – Relationship between the primary care team and the customer-owner is the most important means to affect change. Recognizing customer-owners are ultimately in control of their own lifestyle choices and health care decisions, the Nuka System of Care focuses on understanding each customer-owner’s unique story, values and influencers to support them on their journey to wellness.
  • Whole system transformation – Customer-ownership and relationship impact the entire system, not just health care delivery. All five key work systems in the Nuka System of Care were redesigned, including workforce development, compliance, human resources and finance.

For more information regarding the SCF Nuka System of Care, please visit Our Story.