By Christy Lawton
The mission of the Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) is to promote and protect the well-being of Alaskans. We seek to accomplish this by “Delivering the right care, to the right person, at the right time, for the right price.” Over the past year, led by Commissioner Bill Streur and Deputies Ree Sailors, Craig Christenson and Special Assistant Tara Horton, we have been paving the way to a more accountable and focused department with crystal clear priorities. Commissioner Streur has been steadfast in his commitment to have DHSS leading the pack in ensuring we can measure the outcomes toward which Alaska residents contribute, so we can ensure we are investing wisely and getting results.
The development of department–and division–specific measures provides the basis for evaluating whether we accomplished what we are charged with achieving and/or where adjustments might be required. Three core priorities hold common threads throughout the entire department, regardless of division, and serve as the compass for how all our collective measures are developed.
The DHSS leadership team led by Commissioner Streur is the most dedicated, hardworking, and committed team I’ve ever had the privilege to be a part of and one that welcomes constructive feedback. We are proud to be on the forefront of efforts to create substantial and integrated results-based frameworks and planning into our daily work.
We collectively serve some of the most vulnerable populations within Alaska, which comes with a premium price. But we see the rewards every day of how those services ultimately are creating a stronger and healthier Alaska, which benefits all our residents statewide. Everyone needs a shoulder to lean on occasionally, and in Alaska we know all too well that sometimes that support is too far away when needed. Life in Alaska brings isolation, separation and unique challenges to many, which is why the role of the DHSS is so important. It is critical that we demonstrate our worth to citizens through the outcomes we achieve.
In the coming months, the department, along with individual divisions, will be publishing unique business plans along with more detailed goals for how we will measure our success. I encourage you to take a look at what we’ve begun and share in this journey as we forge a new, but essential frontier.
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