News

News and events and other information from Assets.

In June of 2022, Assets held its first Miniature Golf Tournament.  We decided that it had been a long couple of years managing through the pandemic and we needed a fun break.  A call out was made to all staff to volunteer to create 9 holes for play from the outside of the main building to the interior and then out again to our back patio area.  We had multiple volunteers and the course was successfully created. A total of 15 teams made up of two participants each signed up to play.  We had staff from different departments, board members, and supported employees participating.  Some of the holes were very tough.  The players faced multiple challenges from trying to putt through crooked landscapes outside to going up ramps to get the ball in a hole.  Some were successful and others, although they enjoyed themselves, decided to pick up and go to the next hole. At the end of the tournament there was a bar-b-que for the players put on by our own Contract’s Director, Cuong Vo.  Everyone enjoyed the hamburgers, hot dogs, and salads as we awaited the results.  When all was said and done, the winners of the tournament were Mistee Davis, Chief of Services, and Jonathan Barnes, Cobalt Team Mentor!  Matt Jones, the Executive Director, and a supported employee were a very close second. Following the award’s ceremony, there was a drawing, and everyone walked away with a prize, including a sampling of Alaskan Dream Botanicals donated by our Finance Director, Renee Behrendt.  All and all, everyone had a great time, was thankful the summer fun and are hopeful that the Miniature Golf Tournament will return annually!

Keeping the Business Open

Assets operates nine commercial contracts for Federal, State and private companies. All of these contracts are considered essential. We are proud of the fact that all contracts continued to operate from the beginning of the pandemic and throughout. Because of the local, State and Federal mandates many individuals, especially employees with disabilities were in lockdown and unable to work for some time. Assets secured the Federal Payroll Protection loan to keep individuals on the payroll during this unprecedented time. Of 324 employees with the company, 65 were kept on paid leave until they could safely return to work.

Pivoting to continue supporting clients

Thanks to our dedicated Assets Pick, Click and Give supporters, along with the provider relief fund, we were able to find smart pads for clients and in some cases helping acquire broadband access so that our clinical team could maintain relationships and treatment with people in lockdown. Our one Psychiatric provider was able to provide telemedicine throughout the year, helping maintain safe and therapeutic medication management. Our Community Services Department was also able to utilize this technology to have virtual group activities like Bingo, reaching an even wider group of clients stuck at home. Together Community Services and the Clinical team were able to consider the future as well as the present and managed to arrange a two day socially distanced strategic planning meeting for the future of the array of community living supports they now plan to implement.

Comprehensive change to the way behavioral health services are provided in our State

The State of Alaska Department of Health and Social Services has been working on a comprehensive change to the way behavioral health services are provided in our State. While planning and approval by the Federal government began several years ago, the bulk of the complicated work by organizations like ours occurred mostly across the 2020- 2021 dates. The 1115 Demonstration Waiver, as it is known, meant over 140 National Provider Identifiers, one for every Assets staff person providing services needed to be obtained. This was an in-depth, multi-step and difficult process. Also, every treatment plan for clients receiving behavioral health services needed to be totally revised. Every service note required for Assets to be reimbursed for the new services needed to be created and the billing system by which we are to be paid had to be created The hundreds of hours spent by our Chief of Services, Behavioral Health Director, Human Resources Training Coordinator, our Care Logic System Administrator, our Service Planners and the entire clinical team all had to occur during the social distancing and virtual world we were faced with. Those efforts are just now being rewarded as the new Demonstration Waiver goes into effect fully.

Keeping people safe from the virus is and was a priority for the leadership of Assets

Personal Protection Equipment, in the beginning was very difficult to acquire at any cost, but we managed to acquire masks, both commercial and homemade, aprons and gauntlets before we could buy disposable gowns, we made face shields before we could buy them and managed to acquire hand sanitizer from a variety of interesting sources. A great deal of thanks goes to the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority for funds to start the acquisition of PPE. Our 40 years of an open and welcome building was startlingly different as we implemented safety protocols. In addition to screening all employees still reporting to the office, our doors were locked and a doorbell installed to safely allow entry for deliveries and business that could not be done virtually. In addition to plexiglas barriers and other typical items, our Facilities Manager and other staff helped create safety features to prevent or limit cases of COVID.

Finding ways to still have fun

While many recreational, cultural and athletic events were suspended over the year, we strived to find safe ways to carry on our own traditions. Even our long standing, annual Ice Fishing Derby was postponed in March of 2020. Not to be outdone by a virus, we began a blended tournament commencing in December of 2020. This tournament allowed fisherman to go on their own or in smaller socially distanced groups to fish the lake of their choice, measure and document their catches and submit them for monthly prizes. Our 2020/21 Derby had a finale on April 2, 2021 where with significant precautions we finished up the years derby with Champions crowned, trophies awarded and gifts to all the participants who put up with the weather, virus and other obstacles. Sadly, the momentous occasion of Assets forty year anniversary, which should have been our biggest event of the year, was not held. Dozens of service awards for employees were still safely delivered and our events committee volunteers (Fantastic Functions) still found a way to deliver over 400 commemorative mugs and treats to all of our clients and employees.