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Galley Tables

Jun 17 2015
Speaker to Give Talk About End-of-Life Care in America PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 17 June 2015
ira_via_website.jpgIra Byock. Via irabyock.org

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

The United States health care system is taking away the personal touch to its end-of-life care, at least according to one doctor who’ll be flying up to Kodiak to hold a talk this Friday.

Ira Byock is Executive Director and Chief Medical Officer for the Institute for Human Caring of Providence Health and Services, located in California, and has a long experience with hospice work and caring for those with serious illnesses. He says as far as delivering personalized treatment, the country’s health care system falls short.

“I think the main thing that we could improve on in health care in the United States is having conversations with people about what matters most to them when they are seriously ill and might not survive,” says Byock. “Too often in America we assume that the fundamental nature of illness and dying in America is medical.”
Byock says a physician’s approach needs to take the individual and their family into consideration first. 

“If I’ve learned anything during 35 years of practice, it is that the best care is not a one-size fits all model,” Byock says. “Disease treatment, you can look at best practices and algorithms and look up the best treatments, but when you’re caring for a whole person, you have to do it in a way that is particular to their personality, their preferences.”

He says part of the problem is the medical arena can be too clinical in its approach.

“You know in the United States, mostly we see people as a set of medical problems to be solved and we really rely so much, almost exclusively, on the science and technology, which filters out all of  the personal attributes – all of the ethnicity, and the cultures and the traditions and the rituals - even the foods that matter a lot to people.”

Byock says patients and doctors need to know that they can – and should – maintain an open dialogue. One way to achieve that is through education.

“This stuff can be taught. This caring well for seriously ill and dying people can be taught, but it can’t be taught in one lecture. It can’t be taught in a day,” says Byock. “It really requires the same time on-service, the close mentoring that is the way medical care is taught generation to generation in the mainstream.”

You can hear Byock speak more on this topic Friday at the KANA Koniag building on Near Island from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Jun 16 2015
Special Sessions Add Half-Million Dollars to Budget Woes PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 16 June 2015
Alexandra Gutierrez/APRN
Lawmakers collected nearly $200,000 in per Diem over the course of two special sessions, according to a preliminary tally by the Legislature’s accounting office. Per Diem is meant to cover food and lodging expenses, and it is federally set. It was paid at a rate of $233 per day in Juneau and $295 in Anchorage.

While any legislator could apply for the allowance those who did not live within driving distance of Anchorage were more likely to take it. Sen. Donny Olson, a Nome Democrat who serves on the finance committee, was the top collector. He filed for 44 days, amounting to an $11,439 payment.

Though the majority of Anchorage and Mat-Su legislators declined per Diem during the second special session, Anchorage Sen. Lesil McGuire collected $7,347 and Senate Rules Chair Charlie Huggins, a Wasilla Republican, received $6,329, with most of his per Diem collected while in Anchorage. 

In Kodiak's delegation, Senator Gary Stevens received $6,108, while Representative Louise Stutes collected only $2,129.

As of last week, the total cost of the two special sessions, which were called to address the budget deficit, exceeded half a million dollars. 
Jun 16 2015
Beautiful & Fishy Trashcans Coming to Kodiak PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 16 June 2015
anacortes_-_trash_can_02.jpgAn example of the decorative trashcan shell in Anacortes. Via Wikipedia
Kayla Desroches/KMXT

Trash can be beautiful – or trashcans at least.

One Kodiak resident wants to enrich the city with decorative garbage exteriors that he says can be pretty and show Kodiak’s unique history at the same time.

Bruce Schactler is a fisherman with a vision, one he says popped up in the Lower 48.

“This isn’t a new idea,” he says. “I think it’s been kicked around even here in town before. I ran into it in the town of Astoria, they got the idea from the town of Anacortes, one in Oregon, one in Washington. And what it is is a shell for the trashcan to go into, and the shell is covered in a graphic that makes it look just like a can of salmon.”

He says businesses can choose which historic can labels to decorate their trashcan shells with when they invest in one.

“We’re right now in the process of giving the businesses time to ponder whether they would like to be part of this project. Hopefully they will,” says Schactler. “We already have several that have committed to take part, and I expect that – my goal is by the end of the month that these will be ordered.”

Schactler has worked with several other people around town to hash out the project plan and has presented at city council meetings. City manager Aimée Kniaziowski says Schactler is working with support from the city and the Downtown Revitalization Committee.  

“Once we have determined how many people and how many businesses are going to participate, then the city will go ahead and place the order once the graphic design has been complete and the number of cans we would like to order has been complete,” says Kniaziowski.

Kniaziowski says she’s looking forward to having the decorative trashcans in the city.

“It’ll be fun to see some real colorful, better conditioned cans around the downtown area and hopefully that program over the time might grow so that more businesses and more areas can utilize those.”
According to Schactler, the manufacturer is located in Portland and the shells will have historic labels from canneries like the New England Fish Company and Alaska Packers. He says the shells will be around $1150 a piece and says he and the others involved hope to work with the freight company to minimize the cost of getting the product to Kodiak.

If you’d like to donate or invest in a shell yourself, you can call Schactler at (907) 738 6451 or visit the Friends of Kodiak Facebook page.
Jun 15 2015
Daily Mirror Up for Sale PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 15 June 2015
Jay Barrett/KMXT
Employees of two daily newspapers in Alaska were informed Friday afternoon that their owners have put the for sale sign in their windows.

The Fairbanks Daily News Miner and the Kodiak Daily Mirror have been owned by Media News Group of Denver since 1992. In a letter to employees, Chief Executive William Dean Singleton, a co-founder of Media News Group with the late Richard Scudder, said both the News Miner and the Mirror are profitable and healthy, even during the recent turmoil in the media industry.

Singleton said a Bozeman, Montana, firm has been hired to find new owners, but if the “right buyer” can't be found, Media News Group will continue to own the papers. Singleton said the process could take months.

No sale price has been disclosed. 
Jun 15 2015
Council Vows Action on Agressive Downtown Vagrants PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 15 June 2015
Jay Barrett/KMXT
Vagrancy in downtown Kodiak continues to be a concern to many, with two more residents speaking up at Thursday night's city council meeting. Both singled out the same spot in town as ground zero for the problem – the area around the Gazebo at the Spit. 
“A trip down to the gazebo or to St. Paul Harbor will show you how pervasive problem this is. Not only are there more and more inebriates, but they are becoming more and more aggressive,” said Jack Mann. “My wife and I go by the gazebo almost every day in our skiff, and the other day there was a couple having sex right at the edge of the gazebo. And it was my friends the inebriates.”
Alexus Kwachka suggested that the community might examine how it could be enabling the inebriates and the vagrants.
“You know I think we need to dive into the Brother Francis Shelter. We need to look at what the role is and how many people we're supporting and how many people are coming back,” Kwachka said. “I think helping people is fine, but what we're doing is sustaining people, and that is outrageous. I mean to the point of wanting bulldoze our downtown park? You know? It's crazy.”
Mann agreed, and read from a newspaper article supporting the enabling argument:
“This is from the Alaska Daily News: 'Alaska is one of the few states where being drunk in public is not a crime. Police contend with donated tents and food, soup kitchens and sleep off centers for cold nights, and weak laws governing public drinking. Being a homeless alcoholic can be a viable lifestyle,' and that's what we're getting to here,” Mann said. “We're creating a viable lifestyle, I feel.”
Mayor Pat Branson responded that the city is seeking solutions.
“Just to point out that the city is not a social service agency. But we have been collaborating and meeting with the homeless coalition the human service coalition and the council was discussing this issue as well Tuesday night. So it's a multi-layered problem, and there's no silver bullet for solving inebriation, especially publicly. But we're also looking at loitering laws. There are other communities that have the same problem. And if we look at what they're doing: more presence downtown; the gazebo is just an invitation for people to hang out there during the day.”
Though the mayor and other councilmen asked the public for suggestions on battling the vagrancy issue, Councilman Rich Walker was a little more direct.
“We're going to take our town back. We're going to do whatever we can, and what we have to do, to take our town back. And I would guarantee that.”
Councilman Charlie Davidson agreed that the city should, and will take action, but he cautioned that citizens should be prepared, because he said a final solution will not be cheap. 
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