SITKA - SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium Mount Edgecumbe Hospital optometrist and eye clinic manager Dr. Pam Steffes recently was presented with the 2008 Caplan Award at the Biennial Indian Health Service Optometrist meeting in Fullerton, Calif.
The award was presented to Steffes "for distinguished exemplary service and programmatic contributions to the (U.S.) Public Health Service Optometry Program." Steffes has greatly expanded the SEARHC optometry program since her arrival at Mount Edgecumbe Hospital in July 1999. Since she started, SEARHC added an optometrist and created an eye clinic at the Ethel Lund Medical Center in Juneau and added a second optometrist at Mount Edgecumbe Hospital, which has allowed staff to make periodic trips to other SEARHC communities so those patients don't have to travel for services.
"Steffes has done an outstanding job developing the optometry program at Mount Edgecumbe Hospital and at the Alicia Roberts Medical Center in Klawock," said Frank Sutton, SEARHC vice president of hospital services. "Access to services for our patients has significantly increased. We are very proud that Steffes was recognized for her work through this award."
The Caplan Award is given every two years to an optometrist working with the Indian Health Service who is not a commissioned officer in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps (a similar award, called the Hamilton Award, is given to commissioned officers).
"Steffes has done an excellent job of expanding optometry services here at Mount Edgecumbe Hospital, as well as throughout the consortium," said Dr. Marty Grasmeder, Mount Edgecumbe Hospital medical director. "She has developed an efficient department that provides a wide range of high quality eye care services. I commend her on her success. This award is well-deserved."
Steffes is a Sitka High School graduate who earned her Doctor of Optometry degree from the Pacific University College of Optometry in Forest Grove, Ore., and her bachelor's degree in chemistry from Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colo. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry and in 2006 she went to Equador as part of a mission to deliver eye care services. In addition to her work at SEARHC, Steffes is president of the Rotary Club of Sitka, serves on the board of directors for Shee Atiká Inc. and is a member of the Sitka Tribe of Alaska Education Committee.