JUNEAU - The Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium honored President Emeritus Ethel Lund by renaming the Juneau Medical Center for her.
"It was a surprise, both humbling and a great honor," Lund said during a special reception held during a quarterly meeting of the SEARHC Board of Directors. "At the same time, I am filled with gratitude, not only at the honor in the naming, but also in being blessed to work with wonderful, caring folk as we shared the same vision of improved health care for Alaska Native people."
SEARHC is one of the oldest and largest Native-run health care organizations in the country, and was created under the provisions of the Indian Self-Determination Act. When it began in 1975, three people shared one office at Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital in Sitka, which then was managed by the Indian Health Service.
Lund was one of what she frequently calls "the little old ladies from the villages" who played a role in the creation of SEARHC in 1975. She became first board chair for 1975-77, managing the consortium on a volunteer basis. In 1977 she was hired as first president, serving until her retirement in 2000. In addition to her current roles as president emeritus and with the Elders Council, Lund also serves on the boards of several other Native and health care organizations in Juneau and around the country.
"Ethel is a role model for all of us," said SEARHC President and CEO Roald Helgesen. "She taught by example how to lead with our patients first on our minds. She taught us to listen, stay focused on our mission, treat our patients like our family, take the high road, and approach our work with 'Gumboot Determination.' It is fitting that our board honors Ethel Lund by naming our premier outpatient facility after a woman of such distinction."
SEARHC is the largest private employer in Southeast Alaska, with nearly 1,000 employees serving the health care needs of approximately 18,000 people.
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