Bite down: Southcentral Foundation fires 3 dentists for falsifying records - Must Read Alaska
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Thursday, April 15, 2021
HomePoliticsBite down: Southcentral Foundation fires 3 dentists for falsifying records

Bite down: Southcentral Foundation fires 3 dentists for falsifying records



Southcentral Foundation issued the following statement regarding the investigation and termination of three of its Anchorage-based dentists earlier this month:

“After receiving an anonymous complaint, SCF conducted an independent investigation that substantiated serious compliance issues in the SCF Dental Department.  The investigation showed the dentists falsified health records by attributing one dentist as the provider of routine dental exams when that dentist did not actually perform the procedures.  All procedures were performed by qualified dentists, and there was no impact to customer-owner safety. SCF has self-reported the compliance issues to the U.S. Attorney’s Office and will fully comply with any investigations.  SCF takes seriously any allegation of misconduct and has taken immediate action.  

“As a result of this investigation, the employment of Drs. Kevin Gottlieb, Thomas Kovaleski, and Clay Crossett was terminated by Southcentral Foundation on Wednesday, July 15, 2020.

“Gottlieb had been with SCF since 1989 and served as the Vice President of Resource and Development and Chief of Staff. Dr. Thomas Kovaleski served as the Director of Dental and started at SCF in 1986. Dr. Clay Crossett served as Dental Director and had been with SCF since 2000.

“The terminations have no impact on dental services provided or customer-owner safety at Southcentral Foundation. SCF will provide more information as it becomes available.”

Southcentral Foundation is an Alaska Native-owned, nonprofit health care organization. The organization receives approximately 44 percent of its funding from the Federal Indian Health Service through the Bureau of Indian Affairs, 49 percent from third party reimbursement (primarily federal Medicare and Medicaid) and 7 percent from grants and investments.

Managing more than 80 health care programs and services, the organization serves 65,000 Alaska Native and American Indian people in Anchorage, the Mat-Su Borough, and 55 rural villages in the Anchorage Service Unit.

CEO, Katherine Gottlieb is married to one of the men. She started her career at Southcentral Foundation in 1987 as an administrative assistant and worked her way up, according to the group’s website.

The new five-story dental clinic, which opened in 2018, is named the “Dr. Katherine and Dr. Kevin Gottlieb Building.” It was built largely with taxpayer dollars.

“Nearly all those receiving health care at SCF are Alaska Native and American Indian people of Southcentral Alaska (the Cook Inlet Region), although the organization has recently begun offering care to employees who are not Alaska Native people. Approximately 10,000 of these customer-owners live in remote villages,” the group states on its website.

The organization is considered a national model and has won numerous awards, including:

National Institutes of Health Tribal Health Research Office Storytelling Challenge (2017)

Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award (2017, 2011)

Anchorage School District Spirit of Tomorrow Award (2014)

Level III, Patient Centered Medical Home™ three-year recognition – for SCF’s Anchorage Native Primary Care Center (2009-2012, 2012-2015, 2015-2018), Benteh Nuutah Valley Native Primary Care Center (2015-2018), McGrath Regional Health Center (2015-2018) and Nilavena Subregional Clinic (2015-2018). McGrath and Nilavena are rural Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) from the National Committee for Quality Assurance. The Patient Centered Medical Home standards emphasize the use of systematic, patient-centered, coordinated care that supports access, communication and patient involvement.

Indian Health Service Director’s Award (2012)

Alaska Cultural Humanitarian Award (2012) – presented by the Alaska Psychological Association

Cerner Consulting Project Excellence Award (2011)

League of American Bicyclists’ Bicycle Friendly Business Award (2010)

Alaska Performance Excellence (APEX) Award (2009)

U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services SAMHSA Science & Service Award (2009) for behavioral health/primary care integration

Joint Commission accreditation (ANMC hospital, Anchorage Native Primary Care Center, Alaska Spine Institute building, and Mt. Marathon building) a nationally recognized symbol of quality

Level II, Trauma Center (ANMC hospital) – reverified in 2019 as a Level II Trauma Center by the Verification Review Committee (VRC), an ad hoc committee of the Committee on Trauma (COT) of the American College of Surgeons (ACS). ANMC was Alaska’s first Level II Trauma Center – first receiving verification in 1999.

Level II, Pediatric Trauma Center (ANMC hospital) – verified in 2018 as a Level II Pediatric Trauma Center by the Verification Review Committee (VRC), an ad hoc committee of the Committee on Trauma (COT) of the American College of Surgeons (ACS).

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • There has to be more to this story, because it doesn’t make much sense on the face of it. I can’t see what the motive is.

  • Here’s a rant that is long overdue. We tolerate this because why, exactly? One news report says one person here made about $750,000 in salary last year – probably not exceptional. And it’s all from taxpayers; Indian Health Service, Medicaid, etc. Yet the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act “extinguished all aboriginal rights.” Supposedly people need to be at least 1/32 Indian or Native blood to qualify for this health care, but DNA testing is not required, and in any event this is racial selection. (Can there be racial selection without racism?) Some of the people who qualify for this free health care are among the people right now claiming there is systemic racism in Alaska. We know our Alaska delegation to Congress tolerates all this, but it would be even worse, we surmise, if they were replaced by Democrats. So we shut up. Senator Ted Stevens learned how unreliable the rural Alaska vote can be, and the reception Governor Dunleavy and the Alaska First Lady received at AFN showed us very much. Many people have pointed out that in this Chinese flu pandemic elected Alaska leaders said time after time, ‘We’re all Alaskans, all in this together,’ but did the Indian Health Service open its doors to all Alaskans? We also can see from the lack of media follow-through, or even giving us reasonable answers, on the Alaska Lt. Governor resignation of 2018 that the media kowtow just as much as elected officials do. Imagine if the resigning Lt. Governor had not been a Native leader but had instead been a Republican and had previously been the National Rifle Association official for Alaska; does anyone think the media would have given us no answers as to why that resignation took place? Last I heard was when Grace Jang and Adam Baird, on behalf of Governor Walker, their boss at the time, said they could not tell us right then why the Lt. Gov. resigned but they would get back to us in two hours; I think Jang works for Lisa now and Baird works for the House Majority. Business as usual. Are we gullible and helpless, or something else?
    Please tell me where I am wrong here!

    • Well that knocks out the speaker of the house. Warren has more Indian blood in her.

    • Excellent narrative, Kayak

    • Kayak,

      In answer to your question, a client must have proof by a form that is authorized by BIA. They are not randomly given care. But, your point about these huge salaries is well taken. Under Biblical Law we don’t have the right to covet thy neighbors goods. When their own people are suffering, when they don’t have access to freezers near ports, fuel for their boats or and/or subsidy for housing, how do we validate such high figures for one human being when others are suffering? As caucasion citizens, or mud blood (mixes between Native and White) or gussucks those termed white or half-breeds, after 100 years of systemic racism we don’t really have the right to question free health care for the authentic indigenous people of Alaska. Medicade exits for people who can’t afford services elsewhere. The government is making sure no one goes without. It’s suggesting the free pool, and a treatment program in a day spa, and a huge amount of money in former Gov. Walker’s pocket? What are these heavy hitters planning to do with such a big wad of cash??? Oil, housing, timeshare, the port?

    • I would like to see where you got that 750k figure from. It is not realistic as IHS caps dental salaries at 240k.

      IHS healthcare is a treaty right, the government uses taxpayer dollars to COMPENSATE for the land surrendered by AI/AN tribes to the government. If your ancestors are not part of the people who signed the treaty you do not qualify.

      • I would also like to add that SCF is tribal, so the IHS does not actually have any say in salary or care, although they provide funding….
        but very curious where that salary came from.

    • Can you share where you got the 750k figure?
      Hard to believe that is accurate.

  • I better check my teeth again to make sure the correct ones got pulled!

  • I agree with the above message; there has got to be more to thi story. From what I know of SCF they can’t afford to let quality practitioners go and I’m sure the suggested infraction is way down on the list for SCF, ANTHC and other native American health service agencies.

    • The 750k is because he is the VP (also husband of the CEO)

  • I don’t think that there is some huge undercover story here. The dentist in question needed to get some documented hours in order to keep his license current. He’s been administrative for so long that he is just a powerhead and not a true provider, although no doubt if he’d get back to chair side practice he’s still got the skills. This has been going on for years. It is not poorly intentioned but simply to benefit the system. If they don’t knock off that customer owner stuff, I might be much less supportive. I am over it. I pay taxes to support it. Does that make me a customer owner?

    • No.

      It’s pretty simple.
      The federal government provides healthcare (yes using US tax dollars) to AI/AN peoples as part of treaty agreements to COMPENSATE for land surrendered to the government. If you are not descended from the BIA enrollment records of the tribes/peoples who signed those treaty agreements, you are not eligible. If the government negates treaty agreements they will have to return land to its original peoples/owners.

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