by Lisa Szela
Day two of the July Pine Ridge trip started off with a little innovation and a small amount of Wisconsin’s finest– Westby cheese curds. Upon discovering the lack of oven and stove in the cabins, our very own Paula Deen… I mean Teresa Clements… got to brainstorming and planning. Fortunately, we were equipped with a microwave and the inside of one of our crockpots, which as it turns out, is all you need to prepare a delicious breakfast of scrambled eggs mixed with melted cheese curds!
Once we are all feeling nourished and ready to take on the day, we pointed the van east and made the 30-some mile trek to Wanblee. It didn’t take long for us to get a taste of operating on “rez time.” We arrived at the clinic around 10:00 and met with a few of the staff members to try to clear up our plans for the day. We were informed that Ed, who was going to train us in the electronic health record, had left Pine Ridge at 9:00 that morning. After quite bit of waiting and a little bit of communication, we began our EHR training. By this time, it was 12:30. Following a quick session and a chat with security about plans for the next day, we were on our way again.
The afternoon was spent doing some sight-seeing, learning about the Lakota culture and history, and making plans for the next day. Our first stop was the Oglala Lakota College to check out the gift shop, where some of our group picked up some interesting books about Lakota history, medicine, and more. Back in the van again, our group got the opportunity to do a little bonding as we cruised on down the highway to one of our favorite stops, Higher Ground coffee shop in Pine Ridge. While sitting out on the patio, enjoying our drinks, a man came up and began talking to us. When Teresa asked his name, she soon realized he was the owner of the shop and the author of the current book she was reading, Rez Ramblings. As you can see from the photo, she was very excited to meet him!
After finishing our drinks, we continued on down the road past Pine Ridge to the Red Cloud School. Here we were able to check out some beautiful paintings and other artwork. In addition, we walked up to the cemetery where Red Cloud and many others were buried. We also went inside the beautiful church located next to the schools. At this point, our day was nearing its end. We drove the two miles from Pine Ridge to White Clay, Nebraska, a small town just across the border that consists almost solely of liquor stores and the like. This pit stop is always an eye-opener in terms of the scope of addiction on the reservation.
Finally, we made our way back to the hotel around 20:00, and after prepping the food and petting the stray cat that had made us its friends, we ate a delicious supper of tacos and brownies. We were all tired from the amount of driving today, so we called it an early night in anticipation of our earlier morning tomorrow! I’m excited to see what the clinic has in store for us and hope we will be able to see a decent number of patients throughout the day.