Project Title: Service Area Competition
Applicant Organization Name: Norton Sound Health Corporation (NSHC)
Address: P.O. Box 966, 1000 Greg Kruschek Ave, Nome, Alaska 99762
Project Director: Angela Gorn, President/CEO
Phone: 907-443-3286, Fax: 907-443-2113
Types of Section 330 Funding Requested: CHC $3,141,641, current grant through 12/31/2022
SAAT Service Area ID Number: 003, Unduplicated Patients in 2022: 9,000
Norton Sound Health Corporation (NSHC) 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. It operates Norton Sound Regional Hospital in Nome and clinics in the 15 Native villages that are within the 22,000 square miles comprising the Bering Strait Region of Alaska. The region’s population is nearly 10,000 people. Communities in the region range in size from 100 (Diomede) to 4,000 (Nome) residents. All 16 of NSHC’s sites are now Community Health Centers under the HRSA 330 grant funding and are served by a combination of community health aides, mid-level practitioners, physicians, dentists and other providers.
Major health care needs include: mental health/substance abuse, otitis media, hypertension, diabetes, bronchitis, and cancer. Recent data has shown a slight increase in the region’s diabetes rates, but other health conditions have remained fairly stable. 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 large amounts of snowfall. 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. Due to the geographical remoteness and the extremely high cost of services, transportation and capital improvements, health care options are limited. Norton Sound Health Corporation is the only provider of health care 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.
As of the 2021 UDS calendar year, NSHC served 12,607 patients in the 16 communities in the region. The large increase in the last 2 years was due to required COVID-19 testing. However, the current patient target continues to be 9,000. Now that COVID-19 tests are no longer required, the number of patients served will be decreasing. The current HRSA 330 grant funds 9 village based midlevel providers as well as 1.3 Nome based Day Shelter Recovery Coaches. Services to be provided are: medical, dental, mental health/substance abuse, vision, other professional and enabling services.