by: Michael Dolan
Day 3 of our Pine Ridge experience was spent in the clinic actually seeing patients…finally! This is what we all signed up for and it’s what really makes you feel like you are making a difference in people’s lives. We are fortunate to have 3 clinicians along on this trip – Dr. Mike Kalinosky, Dr. Jim Feltes, and myself. The group is experienced, with over 7 years of Pine Ridge experience among them. We were all excited to get started.
The morning started with a nice breakfast of bagels, muffins, and bread, followed by the 30 minute drive to the IHS’ Wanblee Health Center. Along the way we listened to Lakota chanting on the local radio station. Once we arrived, everyone had to sign in and get situated with the electronic health record. The IHS has a full EHR that allows you to order labs and other tests. Unfortunately, no 2 EHR’s are alike, so it takes a little getting used to. After a lot of assistance from the clinic’s IT person, we were all ready to start seeing patients.
One of the goals we set for this trip was to perform annual exams on as many of the 41 police officers of the reservation as we could. This is an annual requirement for their position, so they are incentivized to get this done. Unfortunately, only 3 of them came to the clinic on the first day. Our group saw a mix of patients that included patients with hepatitis C, asthma, pain issues, and a young woman with a massive dental abscess. The soonest we could get her in to see an oral surgeon was 3 days, so we had to improvise and get it to drain as well as start some parenteral antibiotics.
As we have in past years, we provided a true Wisconsin lunch for our colleagues at the clinic. Brats, cheese curds, and potato salad made up the menu and the Wanblee Clinic staff enjoyed a taste of our local fare. Meg, the nurse practitioner in the clinic, always loves the cheese curds and cannot get enough of them! It is a good opportunity to share with the people we work with all week long.
After a full day of clinic, we traveled back to the motel and prepared our dinner. Feeling full, everyone felt the need for a walk after dinner so we walked to the Oglala Lakota College and enjoyed the sunset and the sweeping views of the region. Then it was off to bed to get rested up for another full day in clinic tomorrow.