Tribal Health Advisory Councils: Community Leadership in Health Care

One of the core tenets of Southcentral Foundation’s Nuka System of Care, reflected in its corporate goals, is that of health care as a shared responsibility. One example of this is how at SCF, customer-owners work in relationship with providers as active partners in their care. SCF also practices this philosophy at the community level, through tribal health councils that take a leadership role in health care for the communities they represent.

SCF provides health care for over 65,000 Alaska Native and American Indian people in the Anchorage Service Unit. Many customer-owners live in Anchorage; however, SCF’s service area also includes the Matanuska-Susitna Valley and 55 rural villages. In order to provide the best care for communities, SCF uses Tribal Health Advisory Councils as one method to communicate with customer-owners in these communities and learn what their priorities and needs are.

SCF works with 9 Tribal Health Advisory Councils.  The health councils’ membership are made up of community members chosen by the Tribal Councils in that area. These health councils review and approve regional budgets and funding, customer satisfaction data, and health metrics. They also bring up issues that need to be addressed in their communities. For example, the St. Paul Island health council shared that housing was needed for health care workers who travel to St. Paul Island to work in the clinic there. As a partner, SCF will work with the health council to find funding to build that housing.

SCF’s Tribal Health Advisory Councils provide valuable feedback about SCF’s health care services, and offer a way for communities to take leadership in health care. For more information about SCF’s Tribal Health Advisory Councils, feel free to contact the SCF Learning Institute.