I got to go out to Gambell to pick up a patient in preterm labor! When we landed at about 1:00am, the sun was getting close to setting and it was still broad daylight. Lots of people (including kids) came out to greet us at the plane, and a crowd of people came to the clinic with us. The health aids told me that they were not used to having patients in labor, so they called in a couple of the older, retired health aids who had more experience with deliveries. I love how the village comes together to look out for each other! I went into check the patient, and sure enough her cervix was 6 cm dilated and it was very thin. There are no good resources to deliver a preterm baby out on this remote island. So we quickly put her on the plane to bring her back to Nome.
Half the village came down to say goodbye. As we were getting on the plane, there were so many “Thank yous” “thank you so much for coming!” “We really appreciate you coming out.” I love this strong sense of community–it felt powerful to see everyone came together so supportively, they felt fear and excitement collectively and they were so grateful for help to take this high risk patient. It made me recall when people were sick in the middle of the night in Papua New Guinea and if it was bad, the whole village would come up with the patient to get medical care from my Mom, who was essentially doing what these health aids in the villages are doing!
I give them mad props, because this is not an easy job–to be on call 24/7, taking care care of sometimes very scary cases!
The flight was uneventful, but after the patient was brought to Nome, other complications came up in her labor, so after a couple hours of sleep, I got called back in to take her on the medevac down to Anchorage! I got to go with the best flight teams–some of my heroes who work at here in remote Alaska. Some of them have worked here many many years-one even has worked 30 years! He and his wife had gone to Papua New Guinea some years back. They work so hard and work so much. When they’re around I know that my patients are in such good hands.
Luckily we delivered only one patient to Anchorage~ and not two! When we dropped her off I echoed the same heartfelt, relieved “thank yous” to the ANMC Obstetrics team–for taking a high risk patient for us! It is amazing to feel the sense of relief to know that you have brought in a high risk patient, and they did well, and then handing them over to the specialists safely and soundly! I thought about how lucky we are to have this awesome medevac service here in Alaska! As scary as it can sometimes be, we get to provide healthcare with first-world resources and lots of amazing healthcare providers!
We got a quick lunch and ran a few errands in the big city of Anchorage, and then we returned with a patient on our back flight to Nome. I got to sit in the front seat on the return flight (my favorite!) I got to learn some flight basics from an awesome pilot!