Awards for Long Term Care Ombudsman team

On May 31, Governor Walker announced the 2017 Governor's Denali Peak Performance Award winners. Alvin Ancheta, Leana Christy and Lisa Gowdy from the Office of the Long Term Care Ombudsman won the Customer Service Excellence Team Award. This award is given to individuals who provide prompt, courteous service that is above and beyond the norm.

The mission of the Office of the Long Term Care Ombudsman (OLTCO) is to resolve issues for elders who live in assisted living and nursing homes in Alaska. Alvin Ancheta, Leana Christy and Lisa Gowdy are the team at the OLTCO who complete this mission for Alaska. This task involves working with the 3,200 residents who live in 18 nursing homes and 250 assisted living homes.

Improving relations

Two years ago, Long Term Care Ombudsman Office interactions with providers were mainly negative. A common response was "Oh no, not someone from the State". The Long Term Care Ombudsman team decided to assign staff to specific regions of the state to build relationships with the residents and staff at each facility. The result is a significant increase in complaints directly from residents. It also improved relationships with facility staff, who now welcome Long Term Care Ombudsmen during visits and often call with questions or problems. Below are just a few examples of how these three individuals go above and beyond the call of duty.

Alvin Ancheta has been a Long Term Care Ombudsman for three years. He is a mild mannered gentleman who often connects with residents over discussions about his Harley Davidson motorcycle. Alvin is very patient and able to successfully work with residents that providers and other staff have difficulty working with. He patiently worked on a case with a resident who has a traumatic brain injury to resolve his many issues. This resident called Alvin daily, often keeping him on the phone for over an hour. There were over 70 journal entries! The end result was that Alvin was able to assist this resident with moving out of a nursing home and into independent housing with services. To make this move happen, Alvin coordinated with six different agencies.

After six years as a Long Term Care Ombudsman, Leana Christy knows everyone in Alaska (or at least that is what her coworkers think). She has an amazing network of partners and friends throughout the state. Leana was working with a woman whose husband was in a nursing facility after being hit by a drunk driver. The wife was completely overwhelmed as she was the caregiver for her elderly parents and their three children.

She was about to have a nervous breakdown due to the fact that she had been unsuccessful in navigating the system to ensure her husband's care would be paid. Using her contacts, Leana was able to get staff to assist in completing the needed paperwork correctly so it could move through the process. When it was faxed to Anchorage, Leana personally delivered the finished paperwork to the last agency where it was approved quickly.

Lisa Gowdy has been a Long Term Care Ombudsman for a decade. She has a heart for working with elders and truly enjoys her visits to assisted living homes and nursing facilities. Lisa is also a fantastic resource for issues related to dementia as she worked for Alzheimer's Resource of Alaska prior to becoming an ombudsman. She can be counted on to resolve an issue for a resident regardless of the road blocks she encounters. After a fire displaced all the residents of an assisted living home, Lisa was visiting a woman in her new placement. During this visit, the woman complained that she was cold because her sweater had been lost in the fire. Lisa went to a nearby store to purchase a similar sweater with her own money as it was going to take weeks before the fire damaged items could be replaced.

These three Long Term Care Ombudsmen often receive thank you notes after they are able to assist a resident. The following are quotes from some of the letters and thank you cards received in the last year:

"I don't know what I would have done without your help! I was not able to figure out this complicated situation without your assistance."

"I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for all your help and guidance. It was a stressful few days there, and you were truly a lifeline."

"Thank you for your time and help-it's really nice to have someone who listens, cares and provides information that is accurate and fair."

"Thank you very much for your advice and skillful advocacy on behalf of my mother. I don't know what we would have done without your wonderful help."

Please join us in congratulating Alvin and Leana and Lisa on a job well done.