On Oct. 18, 2023, BSNC shareholder Dorothy B. (Kakaruk) Isabell was posthumously inducted into the Alaska Women’s Hall of Fame. Isabell was pivotal in the early days of the Norton Sound Health Corporation (NSHC), serving as one of its first directors in 1970. The Alaska Federation of Natives appointed NSHC to develop a model for community-based healthcare services, and Isabell played a key role. This first Board was tasked with bringing health care services to remote areas, with an expressed goal eventually to provide, “a comprehensive and quality inpatient facility in Nome.” In 1971, the Health Aide program was established. Isabell became an NSHC Health Aide Assistant Trainer, organizing health clinics in numerous villages in the region. Isabell was instrumental in helping NSHC become the first tribally owned and operated hospital care provider in the nation. She was also a strong advocate for Alaska Native healthcare needs in Washington, D.C. Isabell impacted the healthcare and lives of many in the Bering Strait region.
Isabell was born at Pilgrim Hot Springs, a Catholic Church mission, where her parents, Annie and David Kakaruk, were caretakers. She was raised in Mary’s Igloo and Teller, Alaska. She had three children: Emily Hughes, Rhonda, who drowned tragically at age five, and James Kevin Isabell. Read more about Isabell at alaskawomenshalloffame.org.