Petersburg Medical Center Newsletter
▲ Matt Pawuk, with PMC's IT Department, rode his unicycle 13.1 miles during the Rainforest Run Half Marathon.
▲ Don Bieber, IT, rooting for the Seattle Seahawks while masked up for work.
NEWSLETTER BANNER PHOTO: Our three in-person half-marathon finishers pose for a socially-distanced group photo: Casey Cates, Kirby Green and Megan Litster.
Petersburg agencies work together to organize flu shot drive
FLU SHOT POD: With the COVID-19 pandemic underway, getting a flu shot this season is more important than ever. Petersburg Medical Center, Petersburg Public Health, Petersburg Borough and the school district will host a drive-through flu shot POD (point of dispensing) on Saturday, Oct. 17. The POD will be located in front of Petersburg High School, with several vaccination stations. Please watch for more details including how to register and what time you should come.

MANAGERS MEETING: Our Sept. 18 virtual monthly managers meeting brought 25 managers together online to give department updates. Project Manager Devynn Johnson introduced the group to Smartsheet, a software program she uses to assign tasks, track project progress, manage calendars, share documents, and manage other work. More PMC managers will likely be using this program in the future, including using it to share information with the public.

COVID-19 HOTLINE: Think you’re experiencing COVID-19 symptoms? Please call our COVID-19 hotline number, 907-772-5788, to speak with a medical professional. You’ll be advised as to whether you should come to the drive-through station for testing. 

STAY INFORMED, STAY SAFE: We share frequent COVID-19 updates with the community.
  • Tune in to KFSK every Friday at 12:30pm for COVID-19 information.
  • We provide the latest hospital updates on our Facebook page: 
  • Check the COVID-19 Information Hub website, our unified command page with the Borough:
  • Check our website for updates as well:

— Phil Hofstetter, CEO, PMC
PMC honored for CEO's leadership and LTC's focus on facility safety
Petersburg Medical Center was recognized with two awards in September.

Phil Hofstetter, CEO, was honored with the Alaska Grassroots Champion Award early in the month. Every year the American Hospital Association recognizes one hospital leader in each state who most effectively educates elected officials on how major issues affect the hospital’s role in the community; who has done an exemplary job broadening the base of community support for the hospital; and who tirelessly advocates for hospitals and patients. Congratulations to our leader for being recognized in Alaska this year.

Petersburg Medical Center's Long Term Care facility was awarded the Frontline Fighters Award from The Alaska State Hospital and Nursing Home Association. The award recognizes the facility's dedication to resident and staff safety. Jennifer Bryner, chief nursing officer, and Helen Boggs, LTC director of nursing, and their staff have worked countless hours ensuring that our LTC residents are safe while maintaining a sense of normalcy and connection with their families and community. Thank you to our Long Term Care staff for going above and beyond for the care of our patients.
 Phil Hofstetter, CEO, with his Alaska Grassroots Champion Award.
▲ Emil Tucker helped at the half-marathon aid station until the last participant turned around. He then left from his aid station and did a 10k run. Thank you, Emil, for volunteering and participating!
Sunny Rainforest Run brings out walkers, runners, and unicyclist
Petersburg Medical Center hosted the 2020 Rainforest Run on Saturday, Sept. 19. The event started at 8am for all walkers and 9am for the runners. It was a crisp morning but the sun was shining before the participants took off!

Participants started the race at Sandy Beach and made their way up Cabin Creek Road until their turnaround point. Julie Walker set up an aid station at the 10k turnaround, while Carin Christensen and Emil Tucker had an aid station at the half-marathon turnaround.

There were ten 10k walkers, thirteen 10k runners, three half-marathon runners, and one half-marathon unicyclist. In addition, 11 Petersburg High School cross country athletes started with the runners and did time trials, timed by their coach. Five people participated in the event virtually.

After the race, participants grabbed a recovery snack donated by Hammer and Wikan, cooled off and headed home.

Thank you to all those who participated!
Over $200 in donations was raised for the PHS cross country team.
Ketchikan-raised doctor excited to be part of PMC's medical team
Kayla Luhrs knew from a young age that she wanted to pursue a career in health care, but was uncertain which direction to take.

During a freshman careers course at the University of Wyoming, she discovered that being a doctor might be a good fit. She went for it.

“I literally never looked back,” said Kayla, who is the newest member of Petersburg Medical Center's medical staff. “And it’s been a pretty good career!”

Kayla attended the University of Washington School of Medicine. Clinical rotations took her to locations throughout the Pacific Northwest—including Juneau and Port Angeles, Washington—and to Gulu, Uganda.

Born and raised in Ketchikan, Kayla’s hope was always to return to Southeast Alaska and work as a rural physician. Four of her six siblings and step-siblings are doctors. Kayla began working as a traveling physician at PMC in 2018. When a full-time physician position opened at PMC this past June, Kayla was happy to stay and make Petersburg home. She is excited to be part of the PMC team.

Kayla is a big advocate for meeting in groups with patients who have similar conditions. This gives patients more face time with their doctor and with fellow patients to learn and share information about a particular illness, preventive medicine, nutrition and more. Having a deeper conversation in a group setting often gives patients more insight into their diagnosis and can help them manage challenges they are dealing with. Given the pandemic, Dr. Luhrs and CEO Phil Hofstetter have been brainstorming how to host group meetings for doctors and patients while following current guidelines.

When Kayla has time off from work she likes to visit family. She visits her sisters often and tries to make trips to visit her mom, who lives in Hawaii. On past visits to her mom, Kayla has volunteered in the medical tent for the Ironman World Championships in Kona. When Kayla isn’t traveling, she likes to hike, bike, boat, ski and spend time with her dog. She is looking forward to being able to socially gather again.
▲ Dr. Kayla Luhrs believes patients with similar conditions benefit from meeting together in groups with their physician.
▲ Kayla and a friend fishing.
▲ Kayla enjoys outdoor activities, including catching lots of fish!
▲ Kelsey Lambe and Devynn Johnson working at registration for the Rainforest Run.
▲ Kelly Zwiefel and her husband enjoying the sunshine.
▲ Julie Walker is among many Petersburg residents who were busy growing healthy food this summer.
Wellness Committee gets Petersburg and PMC up and moving
The Wellness Committee at Petersburg Medical Center was formed in January 2020. The committee is made up of five PMC employees:

  • Julie Walker, community wellness specialist
  • Kelly Zweifel, wellness coordinator and dietitian
  • Devynn Johnson, project manager
  • Cynthia Newman, director of Human Resources
  • Kelsey Lambe, public relations

The committee meets monthly to brainstorm and plan events for the staff, patients and the community. In January, the committee started Fitness Fridays in the Dorothy Ingle Conference Room. Staff or community members would lead a short fitness or yoga routine during staff lunch breaks. The group also implemented 15-minute massage breaks for staff. Unfortunately, these benefits came to a pause when the pandemic hit.

The committee then started a series of community wellness events to encourage and engage Petersburg residents in healthy behaviors—while social distancing—during the COVID-19 pandemic. To kick off our Community Healthy Series, PMC partnered with Petersburg Borough Public Works, Petersburg Borough Sanitation Department, and Petersburg City Schools to involve residents in cleaning up a street, trail, or other outdoor space for Earth Day. PMC next partnered with Beat the Odds for their Circle of Life Race Against Cancer virtual run. In May, there was a run, walk or bike miles challenge. The community hit 6,916 miles that month, doubling the committee's goal! In August, community members were encouraged to spend each week focusing on a gratitude idea. This past month PMC partnered with Petersburg Mental Health to offer weekly mindfulness meditation classes via Zoom with Hunt Parr, and hosted the 2020 Rainforest Run.

The committee started a Wellness Wednesday post on the PMC Facebook page, with health tips and tricks. In October, look for information on Breast Cancer Awareness Month. We are encouraging everyone to wear pink on Wednesday, October 14.

Aside from wellness events for staff, community and patients, the committee has researched and been involved in numerous meetings regarding PMC's employee wellness benefit program.
Poetry, music, van rides, flowers and food make September special
September brought more rainy days to Petersburg, but residents made the most of the sunny spots in between with visits and fresh air on the deck. Rain or shine, we continued offering each resident a weekly one-hour van ride to his or her chosen locations around the island. If you see the Petersburg Medical Center community van out on Thursdays, give the resident on board a wave!

Indoors, residents played one-on-one games and brain games, colored, and caught up on current events. They enjoyed books, audiobooks, and DVDs borrowed from the library. The men enjoyed watching westerns, a documentary about Alaska Native mythology, and watching sports on TV.

Residents stayed connected with community and loved ones via phone calls and video chats. They attended several virtual events via Zoom and a big screen TV. Local performers Alec and Nicole McMurren played a virtual concert as a special treat. They also sent a neat home-made music video of one of their songs for residents to watch on the big screen. Some residents tuned in to the virtual Rainforest Festival, hosted by the Petersburg Rainforest Writers, to hear readings of local poetry and prose. One resident enjoyed listening to a poem he authored that was read by one of the participants, and also shared some of his own stories and jokes at the end.

The residents received another Flower Farm delivery of vibrant assorted flowers donated by the Baha’i faith community, and had a blast designing flower arrangements for their rooms.

As always, there was no shortage of delicious food this month. Residents ate meals brought in by family, and on various days activities staffer Noelle McPherson made spaghetti and garlic bread, cowboy beans, and almond puff. Residents ordered fried chicken and watermelon from the store as a treat again this month and really enjoyed it. Per their request, we are making this a monthly event!
▲ Raymond Dugaqua, LTC resident, enjoying some fresh air.
▲ Carol Wallace, LTC resident, holding a beautiful display of flowers.
▲ Afternoon snack time for LTC resident Joe Wilson.
Petersburg Medical Center | 907-772-4291 |