Resolution 2020-17: Reliable US Postal Services

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WHEREAS, Tanana Chiefs Conference (TCC) is an Alaska Native tribal health and social services consortium established by the Interior Alaska tribes and tribal communities, to provide a unified voice in advancing sovereign tribal governments through the promotion of physical and mental wellness, education, socioeconomic development and culture of the Interior Alaska Native; and

WHEREAS, Villages and community members rely on the United States Postal Services (USPS) to deliver mail, medication and other critical items timely; and

WHEREAS, Over the last couple of years village communities in the TCC Region are increasingly experiencing non-weather related delays of mail delivery by airlines who are responsible for the USPS mail delivery to the villages,- one community did not receive mail for over a month,- as well as delays in access to mail at local post-offices due to sudden post office closures in villages for weeks on end; and

WHEREAS, TCC Health Services is shipping between 1,000 -1,400 medication refills per month to patients in the TCC villages through USPS 1st class certified mail, where TCC is paying for 1st class certified mail delivery; and
WHEREAS, We are experiencing that USPS 1st class, barcoded certified mail is not scanned properly at the various mail distribution locations, so accurate tracking of certified mail is not possible; and

WHEREAS, For example, the USPS Mail was being held up with an airline carrier for over 2 weeks in November 2019, which led to at least 1,000 people in 3 communities not receiving their mail for over 2 weeks; which resulted in a significant number of patients not receiving their refill medication timely, which led to several emergency situations with patients running out of critical medication and in at least one situation led to an evacuation of a patient by air-ambulance; and

WHEREAS, Since the start of the pandemic, the number of mail-out medications has increased and due to the challenges with lack of reliable postal services, 43% of all medication refills to rural communities in the Interior is now shipped as freight with local airlines rather than through the United State postal services; and

WHEREAS, Rural villages also experience barriers to post office access due to lack of available human resources which could be address with flexible hours and multiple part-time hires; and

WHEREAS, Recent operational changes to the USPS overtime policies, sorting abilities, and collection methods, among others, has further exacerbated the issues.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Tanana Chiefs Conference Full Board of Directors directs staff to engage the Alaska Delegation and other stakeholders, and advocate for significant improvements in the USPS access and delivery of critical mail services to the rural communities in the TCC Region.

Submitted by: Health Board


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