Norton Sound Health Corporation is a tribally owned and operated, independent, nonprofit health care organization established in 1970 to meet the health care needs of the region’s Inupiaq, St. Lawrence Island Yupik and Yup’ik people. Its’ mission is to provide quality health services and promote wellness within our people and environment. NSHC operates Norton Sound Regional Hospital located in Nome, Alaska and 16 Federally Qualified Health Clinics (FQHC) in Nome and it’s fifteen (15) remote villages. The 16 Total Communities include Nome, Brevig Mission, Diomede, Elim, Gambell, Golovin, Koyuk, Savoonga, St. Michael, Shaktoolik, Shishmaref, Stebbins, Teller, Unalakleet, Wales, and White Mountain. The health care centers that make up Norton Sound Health Corporation are located in the Bering Strait region, a 22,962 square-mile section of northwestern Alaska, ranging in size from 150-750 residents, scattered along the Bering Sea coast and on islands of the region.
Norton Sound Regional hospital has many services including inpatient, emergency, preventative care and outpatient services. NSHC services include but are not limited to Audiology, Laboratory Services, Dental, CAMP (Chronic Care, Active Management & Prevention), Nutrition Services, EMS, Environmental Services, Eye Care, Infection Control, Acute Care, Maternal & Child Health, Primary Care Clinic, Pharmacy, Physical Therapy, Radiology, Respiratory Therapy, Social Services, Behavioral Health Services and Village Health Services. Specialty medical services may require residents to be flown into Anchorage, Alaska; 538 miles away.
Barriers to care include geography, remoteness, climate, language and culture, unemployment and poverty. The region is only accessible by air. Norton Sound’s climate is harsh including winter temperatures below zero and snow annually. The majority of the population is Alaska Native (75%). The economy is a hybrid of cash and subsistence. Jobs are scarce. Many residents still live traditional lifestyles. Rural Alaska has some of the highest poverty rates in the nation.
Norton Sound Health Corporation is the only provider of health care in the region. As of the 2021 calendar year, NSHC served 8,777 AI/AK patients in the region. With this funding, NSHC will continue to provide accessible, comprehensive health care services to all the region’s residents under the Community Health Center model for prevention and treatment of diabetes in AI/AK communities.