We follow our patients that we admitted here every day while they are in the hospital, so even on our days off, we might still have to come in unless we make prior arrangements. I had seven patients to round on today on my day off! (the four that I had from yesterday and the three pediatrics patients that I admitted). Then I discharged four of them today—which is still a lot of ropes-learning in this system for me, because each discharge was very different with its own various paperwork for orders, patient education and discharge forms/notes, needs (an OB pt, a newborn, a pediatric patient with a hematologic disorder, and EtOH with behavioral health issues)! So needless to say, I was at the hospital for a good portion of my day.
But then, I spent the rest of my day getting ready to go to Wales! Wales is the village on the western-most point of the entire North American continent, where the land bridge used to connect to Asia. It is at the narrowest part of the Bering Strait, where the Pacific Ocean meets the Arctic Ocean. On a clear day you can see the island of Little Diomede from Wales, and on a really clear day, you can actually see the mainland of Russia. It is only 61 miles away! Wales used to be the largest village in thie region of Alaska (with more than 500 people living there), but through a series of globalization events, it has become a small village of ~130 to 150 people, depending on the day.
Here is a fascinating photo essay about Wales, called “To Live and Die in Wales”:http://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/part-1-live-and-die-wales-alaska
I highly, highly recommend the read!
I spent time getting a giant, waterproof black box
(the kind you would take on an expedition to the most extreme environments) full of medical supplies.
And getting a week’s worth ration of food from the cafeteria. I also looked through a list of patients that the Community Health Aides (CHA) want me to see, and getting input on what to bring to Wales. Because out there, the conditions are a little more rough, with “Honey Buckets” (no plumbing, just a bucket where you do your business), no running water in most places, a small trade-goods store with minimal selection, and more exposure to the harsh elements. The community health aides are so friendly and so excited to have a doctor in their village! I am really looking forward to it. I went to buy them treats, because I remember in the Nimo village (where I grew up), it was so nice when people would bring in fun treats for us. And they work so hard. A village health aid has a very hard job, because not only are they on call 24-7 with basic training, they also are often from the village and they have the added complicated element of seeing their friends and family, which can be very difficult depending on what the situation is. I give them mad respect and the least I can do is bring something different to enjoy. They jokingly put in an order for sushi, but I am going to bring it for a surprise–I even called the sushi place, and they are going to make me a special, fresh order before my flight tomorrow (before they actually open :)! I love this town!
We also met some reporters with the Anchorage Daily news, who are doing a year long study on alcohol and its effects across Alaska. It sounds super interesting! And it was fun to hear about a cool research project! They took a better picture of us than our timed selfie:
I will be gone till the weekend, so no more posts until then–but can’t wait to get a taste of life in the village!