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The Alaska Native Medical Center acknowledged for excellence

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – The Alaska Native Medical Center in the heart of Anchorage is a beautiful facility. One of its buildings has displays of Native art on every floor. It is also home to what is possibly the best Alaska Native craft shop in the city. Recently, the medical center has proven that its beauty is only one of its many features.

In January, the center received the highest honor offered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. It is the first and only tribal hospital in the country to earn a place on the list of magnet status facilities, and the only hospital in the state of Alaska to earn this high honor. Throughout the United States less than six percent of medical facilities have qualified; this is the second time the center has been honored. The center also received the recognition in 2003.

The Magnet Recognition Program has its roots in the nursing shortage of the 1970s and 1980s. In an effort to discover what attracted and held nursing staff, the ANCC researched conditions at hospitals that were highly successful in staff retention. This research became the basis for a list of institutional characteristics dubbed the Forces of Magnetism. These characteristics became the criteria that now define the qualifications for magnet status.

The recognition is not only an indicator of successful staff attractions and retention, but also demonstrates extraordinary quality in patient care. It has been referred to as “the Nobel Prize of Nursing.” In addition to quality care, the list includes a number of other interesting criteria: decentralized decision-making, personnel policies developed with staff involvement, collaborative working relationships within the facility and strong partnerships with other health care organizations in the surrounding community to improve patient outcomes.

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“This award validates the outstanding care our employees provide to our patients every single day,” said Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium Chief Executive Officer Don Kashevaroff. “We’ve set the standard in Alaska – now we‘re going to set the standard in the country.”

Medical center staff were notified of the successful application for magnet status via speaker phone in a call from Chairwoman of the Commission on Magnet Recognition Gail Wolf. She said the Magnet Recognition Program acknowledges “quality patient care, nursing excellence and innovations in professional nursing practice, and gives consumers the ultimate benchmark to measure the quality of care that they can expect to receive.”

The Alaska Native Medical Center has been jointly owned and managed by the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium and Southcentral Foundation since 1999. Southcentral is an Alaska Native-owned health care organization and subsidiary of Cook Inlet Corporation, one of the 13 Alaska Native corporations. As part of the health services provided by Southcentral, the center serves Alaska Native and American Indian people living in Anchorage, the Mat-Su Valley to the north, and 60 rural villages.