Big Lake, Alaska and The Susitna Valley News, Weather, Events, And More

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Tuesday, February 20 2018 @ 10:17 AM AKST


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Governor Walker Announces Medicaid Expansion and Reform Plan

Health and WellnessANCHORAGE—Governor Bill Walker was joined today by Department of Health and Social Services Commissioner Valerie Davidson at the Anchorage Neighborhood Health Center to present the plan for Medicaid expansion and reform, “The Healthy Alaska Plan: A Catalyst for Reform.”

Medicaid expansion and reform are top priorities for the Walker administration in support of the state’s ongoing commitment to serve the health needs of Alaskans.

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Tapping the Health Benefits of Birch

Health and WellnessThey are so common in most of Alaska that you may be forgiven if you have stopped noticing them: Birch Trees. What you may not know are the many health benefits to be derived from that tree in your yard.

Birch is a broadleaved deciduous hardwood tree of the genus Betula in the family Betulaceae, which also includes alders, and is closely related to the beech/oak family.

Every part of the tree has a use in either health or home. For arts and crafts, firewood, or as a healthy drink, Birch delivers.

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Dental Practice coming to Big Lake

Health and WellnessWe are pleased and excited to announce the upcoming opening of a Dental Practice here in Big Lake, as well as a great career opening for someone looking to get quality skills training in a fast-growing field.

Here's Dr. Knox ("Call me Tommy Knox") with the details:

"Hi, I am Tommy Knox, DMD. Many years ago, (27) wife and I fell in love with Alaska. In 2009 we purchased a few acres on the North Side of the lake, at the end of Our Road, near Bill and Helen, Cathy and Dan. Dr. Tommy Knox, DMD-photo courtesy of Tommy Knox

My wife Juanita and I have built a little cabin to live in until my Dental practice is stable. I have leased a space in East Lake Mall where Donna’s Corner used to be located. The contractor is in the process of remodeling, so far it looks great. My plan is to serve the local people with their oral health needs. Nothing fancy, just state of the art practical dental care for the family. I have considerable oral surgery experience. No hygienist, Just me.

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Benefits and the health care law: what veterans can expect

Health and WellnessANCHORAGE, Alaska — The State of Alaska Department of Military & Veterans Affairs wants to reach out to all Alaskan veterans to inform them of their medical benefits provided under the Affordable Care Act.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has launched an awareness campaign and a website ( to let veterans know about the Affordable Care Act and what it means for them and their families. Veterans receiving health care from the Department of Veterans Affairs will see no change in their benefits or out-of-pocket cost as the move is made into another phase of the Affordable Care Act.

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Snoqualmie Gourmet Ice Cream, Inc. Ice Cream, Gelato, Custard, and Sorbet Recalled Due to Possible Listeria Contamination

Health and Wellness(JUNEAU, AK)–Snoqualmie Gourmet Ice Cream, Inc. has issued a recall of all flavors and container sizes of its ice cream, gelato, custard and sorbet products produced between Jan.1, 2014 and Dec.15, 2014 because the products have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

Listeria monocytogenes is an organism that can cause listeriosis, an uncommon but potentially fatal disease. Healthy people rarely contract listeriosis. However, those who do contract it could experience high fever, severe headache, neck stiffness and nausea. Listeriosis can also cause miscarriages and stillbirths, as well as serious and sometimes fatal infections in those with weakened immune systems, such as infants, the elderly and persons with HIV infection or undergoing chemotherapy. Symptoms do not immediately develop after eating contaminated food but can develop within two months after consumption. A person experiencing these symptoms should seek immediate medical attention. For more information about Listeria monocytogenes, visit:

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Alaska Health and Social Services announces leadership appointments

Health and WellnessANCHORAGE—Health and Social Services Commissioner Valerie Davidson today announced appointments to her leadership team. Effective Dec. 15, 2014, Dr. Jay Butler will assume the dual roles of Chief Medical Officer and Director of the Division of Public Health. Jon Sherwood was named Deputy Commissioner for Medicaid and Health Care Policy, effective immediately. Both appointments are subject to legislative confirmation.

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Alaska recognizes National Influenza Vaccination Week

Health and WellnessPublic Health to waive administrative fee for flu vaccine at clinics statewide December 7-13

ANCHORAGE—In an effort to encourage more Alaskans to get immunized against the flu, State public health centers, the Municipality of Anchorage and Maniilaq Association will be waiving the standard fee for flu vaccine administration during National Influenza Vaccination Week (December 7-13).

National Influenza Vaccination Week is a national observance that was established to highlight the importance of continuing influenza vaccination. State officials are taking this opportunity to remind residents to get vaccinated against the flu to reduce the risk of contracting influenza.

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Safeway Select French Salted Caramel Premium Ice Cream recalled due to undeclared peanut allergen

Health and WellnessSafeway has issued a recall for select containers of Safeway Select French Salted Caramel (Fleur De Sel) Premium Ice Cream sold from Nov.4, 2014 through Dec.5, 2014 because the product may contain undeclared peanuts, a known allergen. People who have an allergy or have a severe sensitivity to peanuts run the risk of a serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume this product.
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Vietnam veterans with PTSD now eligible for discharge upgrades

Health and WellnessANCHORAGE, Alaska — Under a new Department of Defense directive, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is directing the military boards responsible for correcting or upgrading discharge status to give “liberal consideration” to petitions from Vietnam War veterans who received a less-than-honorable discharge because of behavior resulting from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Discharge upgrades could lead to the award of previously denied benefits, such as disability pay, separation pay, GI Bill eligibility and VA benefits.

There are more than 24,000 Vietnam veterans in Alaska, and some of those veterans could be missing out on much needed benefits.

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New Health & Social Services Commissioner

Health and Wellness(Juneau, AK) – Within hours of being sworn into office, Gov. Bill Walker announced the appointment of Valerie Davidson as Department of Health and Social Services Commissioner.

“I promised Alaskans that, once in office, one of my first tasks would be to expand Medicaid,” Walker said. “Valerie Davidson is, bar none, the consummate expert on the topic. We have a lot of work to do in ensuring that more than 40,000 Alaskans get the health care coverage that they need.

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Reported flu cases increase around Alaska

Health and WellnessInfluenza activity in Alaska has greatly increased in recent weeks and has been confirmed in all regions of the state, according to Alaska Division of Public Health Epidemiologists.

“Alaska is already seeing increased flu activity, which in past years usually occurs later in the season,” said Dr. Michael Cooper, program manager for the Infectious Disease program. Since mid-October, surveillance indicators have seen steadily increasing numbers with 345 cases of laboratory-confirmed influenza in October and 405 cases in November (as of Nov. 20, 2014). Many people sick with the flu do not seek medical care, and there is no reliable way of estimating how many cases there are in Alaska. Those who do end up with positive results, however, get counted by the State, and these numbers have been increasing recently. “This is by far the highest number of confirmed flu cases we’ve seen in November in the past four years,” Cooper explained.

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Private Selection Denali Extreme Moose Tracks Ice Cream Recalled for Undeclared Peanut Allergen

Health and Wellness(JUNEAU, AK)–The Kroger Company has issued a recall for select containers of Private Selection Denali Extreme Moose Tracks Ice Cream because the product may contain peanuts, a known allergen. People who have an allergy or have a severe sensitivity to peanuts run the risk of a serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume this product.

The affected product has a “sell by” date of April 16, 2015 located under the UPC Code.

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Ortega and Las Palmas products recalled due to undeclared allergens

Health and WellnessJUNEAU, AK) – B&G Foods has issued a recall for certain Ortega and Las Palmas products because they may contain undeclared peanuts and almonds,known allergens. People who have an allergy or have a severe sensitivity to peanuts or almonds run the risk of a serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume these products.

Affected products were distributed to retail stores and foodservice outlets and may be identified by the UPC code located on the package. The recall does not apply to any Ortega or Las Palmas products packaged in canisters.

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Alaska Health Care Commission seeks public comment on 2014 draft report

Health and WellnessANCHORAGE — The Alaska Health Care Commission’s 2014 draft report has been released for public comment and is available on the commission’s website:

The following topics are presented in the draft report for public review and feedback:

• Findings and policy recommendations related to prevention and control of fraud and abuse in the state’s Medicaid program;
• Policy priorities selected by the commission for facilitation during 2015, and proposed activities to foster implementation of those priorities;
• A draft policy paper on key elements that would be required in state legislation to create a statewide All-Payer Claims Database for Alaska; and
• A draft paper on health benefit recommendations for Alaska employers.
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Medicaid reform group considers extending comment period on Medicaid reform

Health and WellnessANCHORAGE — The Medicaid Advisory Reform Group experienced an extraordinary public response to the draft innovation proposals being considered at its meeting Oct. 29 in Anchorage. Because of the volume of feedback and teleconference challenges that prevented some people from providing testimony, the group will ask for additional time to receive public comment and submit the report.

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