Homer Alaska - Business

Story last updated at 1:45 PM on Wednesday, August 22, 2012

SVT Health and Wellness announces new staff, expansion of its services

By McKibben Jackinsky
Staff writer


Photographer: McKibben Jackinsky, Homer News

Seldovia Village Tribe has announced the addition of new staff and the expansion of services offered at its health and wellness center on East End Road. "Our mission is to treat the whole person, rather than treating symptoms alone," said Beckie Noble, health and wellness director.

With construction of a new 5,700-square-foot, two-story, $2-million building completed, Seldovia Village Tribe, or SVT, has announced an expansion of services offered to the public. SVT Health and Wellness, formerly known at the SVT Health Center, now offers:

• Comprehensive and preventative primary care that includes, in part, annual examinations for adults and children, immunizations, laboratory services, minor outpatient surgery;

• Holistic, proactive prevention and naturopathic health for wellness through natural remedies;

• Complete family dentistry for adults and children.

"This has been a vision of (SVT Executive Director) Crystal Collier for the past 15-20 years," said Beckie Noble, health and wellness director.

Collier's vision brings together mental, emotional, physical and spiritual.

"Our mission is to treat the whole person, rather than treating symptoms alone," said Noble.

The tribe's logo, depicted in tile by an Alaska artist, welcomes patients to the wellness center's waiting area. From one corner of the room, a small waterfall produces soft water sounds that create a link to the Kachemak Bay environment. Soothing colors cover the walls on which pieces by area artists are displayed.

A large conference room next to the waiting area has furniture that can be used as individual desks or rearranged into one large meeting table. A four-by-six-foot screen at one end of the room accommodates computer-generated presentations and can be manipulated similarly to an iPad.

The room will be used for the "group visit model" that SVT Health and Wellness is soon to begin using. SVT Health and Wellness will initiate the group visit model with a 12-week series of visits with a group of approximately eight individuals focusing on diabetes and weight issues. The room's set-up will accommodate "Thriving Thursdays," a new series of classes beginning this month that cover a wide range of wellness aspects.


Dr. Rob Downey has joined Seldovia Village Tribe Health and Wellness as the medical director.

Joining SVT as medical director is Rob Downey, a board-certified family physician who specializes in functional medicine, an approach that addresses underlying causes of disease with a systems-oriented approach. Originally from Kalispell, Mont., Downey graduated from the University of Utah Medical School and completed a University of Minnesota residency. Between 2000-2002, Downey was attending physician at a Native health center in Kotzebue that served a population of 11,000. In addition to his duties as medical director, Downey also sees patients on a part-time basis.

He describes functional medicine as "taking the best of western medicine and augmenting it with science-based ways to improve vitality and remedy the underlying imbalances that drive disease."

Also new to the staff is Abby Laing. A naturopathic doctor, Laing grew up in Homer, is a graduate of National College of Natural Medicine and focuses on holistic, proactive prevention and comprehensive diagnosis and treatment.

"I dig deeper, ask questions and give patients the tools and knowledge that empower them to take charge of their own health," said Laing. "I love helping people feel better, live better and thrive so they can do what they love."

The expanded services bring to 30 the number of staff at SVT Health and Wellness, said Noble. In September, acupuncturist Amy Rattenbury also will be joining SVT. Rattenbury is formerly from Homer, but now practices in Colorado.

Thriving Thursdays classes are at 7 p.m. and began Aug. 16 with a Wellness Talking Circle, conducted by Rev. Judith Lethin, a board-certified chaplain. They continue:

• Today: Healthy Back to School Lunches with Jenifer Dickson, certified healing foods specialist;

• Aug. 30: TLC: Therapeutic Lifestyle Change and Functional Medicine with Dr. Downey;

• Sept. 6: Gluten-Free Living with Dickson;

• Sept. 13: TLC: Therapeutic Lifestyle Change for Diabetes with Downey;

• Sept. 20: Quick and Easy Dinners with Dickson;

• Sept. 27: TBA.

• Oct. 4: Wellness Talking Circle with Lethin;

• Oct. 11: Healthy Desserts with Dickson;

• Oct. 18: Wellness Talking Circle with Lethin;

• Oct. 25: Homemade Soups with Dickson.

A donation of $20 per class and preregistration is required.

Therapeutic massage and a sauna also are available through SVT Health and Wellness:

• 30-minute massage: $60

• One-hour massage with sauna before or after treatment: $100;

• One-hour deep tissue massage with sauna before or after treatment: $170.

"Everyone is welcome," said Downey, referring to the classes, massage and sauna, and all services offered by SVT Health and Wellness. Insurance, discounts based on income and family size; Medicare, Medicaid and Denali Kid Care are accepted. For more information, visit www.svthw.org. To sign up for Thriving Thursdays or to schedule an appointment, massage or a sauna, call 226-2228.

McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at mckibben. jackinsky@homenews.com.