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Case historyarticle for Xerox ConnXtions internal newsletter
By Bob Eklund

 

 

DC230s Help MaintainEskimo Health

The ice age still lingers in the Yukon-KuskokwimDelta country. In this remote corner of Alaska 400 miles westof Anchorage, where the Yukon and Kuskokwim rivers flow into theBering Sea, live some 22,000 Eskimos -- the largest concentrationof these Alaska Natives remaining in the world today.

Maintaining the health of the peoples ofthis region-primarily Yup'ik Eskimos and Athabascan Indians-isthe task of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation (YKHC), andXerox Document Centre 230 digital copiers are helping YKHC inthe difficult job of meeting health needs in some 50 remote villages.

Headquartered in Bethel, Alaska, the largesttown in the region (population 5,000), YKHC is unusual among healthcare organizations in that it is entirely owned and operated byNative Americans. Operating as a federally designated contractorunder the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Actof 1975, YKHC is a private, nonprofit health corporation thatdelivers primary care, educational, preventive and planning servicesto the people of the Y-K Delta.

Wind and Walrus Bone
Keeping its copiers and faxes operatingin western Alaska's extreme climate-50 mph winds and below-zerotemperatures are the rule for most of theyear-has been a perennialproblem for YKHC.

"They say that some of our people haveeven carved parts out of walrus bone to keep their copiers running,"quips Tom Piakak, YKHC's chief technician, who has responsibilityfor copiers, printers and fax machines. Piakak, a Yu'pik Eskimofrom the Y-K Delta region, points out that bringing Xerox servicetechnicians from Anchorage to YKHC's Bethel headquarters is anexpensive proposition-costing a minimum of $400 per trip for airfarealone-and flying them to more remote sites is usually too costlyto consider.

Until last year, YKHC had been meeting itscopier needs with a variety of light-lens machines, all of whichrequired frequent service. "When the Document Centre cameout, we learned about it on the Internet and we were really excited,so we got one of the first DC 230s in Alaska delivered here totest it," says Rebecca Grandusky, YKHC's chief informationofficer, who manages the corporation's computer, telecommunicationsand reprographics activities. She notes that with fewer movingparts than light-lens models, the Document Centre units are expectedto be less affected by Alaska's harsh environment.

Today, YKHC has four DC 230 units. Two ofthese, located in Bethel, are used in handling communicationswith the 50 Alaska Native villages, and in managing the travelarrangements needed to fly patients from the villages to Bethel's50-bed acute care medical facility or to a backup hospital inAnchorage. The third DC 230 is in the village of Aniak (population600), located 90 air miles up the Kuskokwim river. The fourthis at YKHC's Travel Management Center in Anchorage.

Grandusky explains that while copying isalways the number one use of the Document Centres, YKHC does avery high volume of faxing. "We have a Health Aide in eachof the villages, but no doctors except in Bethel," she says."So when a doctor's help is needed, the Health Aide and thedoctor will generally communicate by fax-and in many cases thesefax communications can eliminate the need to fly a patient into the Bethel hospital.

Grandusky adds that "We're pleasedwith the large amount of storage that's available with the DC230's fax function."

The Next Step: Networked Document Centres

Most of the Y-K Delta terrain can be crossedonly with wings-or with radio and telephone signals relayed bysatellite. High winds, sub-zero temperatures and permafrost makeit virtually impossible to string telephone or power lines.

Networking, via wireless technology andsatellite links, is essential to YKHC's operations, Granduskypoints out. "We are currently in the process of implementingthe networking capabilities of the Xerox Document Centres,"she says. "Putting these units on-line is our top priority."

Once the four existing DC 230s are networked,YKHC would like to add several more of these units, replacingmost of its light-lens copiers.

"In the vast and inaccessible areathat we serve, it is much more convenient for us to have everything-ourfaxes, printers, copiers, whatever-on a network," Granduskysays.

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