From Alyeska: The Prince William Sound Traveling Health Fair sails again

Traveling Health Fair sails again!

After cancelling the 2020 Prince William Sound Traveling Health Fair one week before departure, this long-standing Alyeska community tradition restarted for its first in-person event since 2019. The Ross Chouest, a Ship Escort Response Vessel System, or SERVS, tug usually stationed at Port Etches, carried a crew of enthusiastic health and wellness professionals from Valdez to Tatitlek to Chenega and back from Oct. 3-9, 2022.

For more than 20 years, Alyeska has sponsored the health fair. On a SERVS marine vessel, the group of healthcare providers travels to remote coastal villages in the Sound to provide classroom instruction on health and mental health topics, host wellness events and community meals. It is a joyful and meaningful event.

Alyeska staff from corporate communications and the Alaska Native Program helped plan, coordinate, and carry out this special event, with support from key staff at SERVS, and Edison Chouest Offshore, or ECO. Over the years, providers from statewide healthcare organizations have participated, frequently sponsored by their employer for the week-long voyage. This year, participants included providers from Providence Valdez Medical Center, Chugachmiut, the State of Alaska Division of Public Health, and the University of Alaska/Idaho State University Pharmacy Program.

Providers lead classroom sessions on mental health, nutrition, physical activity, and first aid; kids seemed to especially enjoy a scavenger hunt to find first aid kits and automated external defibrillators, or AEDs, in the school. The schools were the site other events including delicious community meals prepared by ECO, and a booth-style health fair where community members could get their blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol checked and find information about health and wellness resources. For the first time, providers also hosted a paint night for women and men’s BBQs in each community.

Heightened awareness and concerns about COVID in the villages of Tatitlek and Chenega meant careful planning, thoughtful mitigations, and in-the-moment action to protect providers and – most importantly – these isolated and welcoming villages. A detailed COVID Mitigation Plan was developed by participating nurses, with support from Alyeska’s Occupational Health Unit. Among other mitigation strategies, providers were tested before departure and again at the midpoint of the trip and wore masks indoor with community members. Thanks to everyone’s diligence, the event was held without a case of COVID among providers, crew, or community members.

“This year’s Prince William Sound Traveling Health Fair was a monument of persistence and planning,” said Kate Dugan, Valdez Public and Community Relations Manager. “It was so meaningful to once again set sail and visit with friends in Tatitlek and Chenega. I’m grateful for their hospitality and the trained professionals who volunteered their time to bring health and wellness resources into these unique communities.”

-Submitted by Alyeska Corporate Communications

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