Last week, a surgery team volunteered at Rosebud Indian Health Service Hospital, a reservation that neighbors Pine Ridge to the east. This final blog entry from the surgery team is by Ellen Hanson, RN from Gundersen. Though this was Ellen’s first trip to Rosebud, she is a perennial Global Partners volunteer and a lead with the Ethiopia team.
The inaugural Global Partners surgical team had a great trip to Rosebud Indian Reservation. Dr. Jeanne Johnson was our surgeon, I assisted.(learning a lot about OR flow that I will use on our Global Partners surgical trip to Ethiopia in Feb 2016). Sara was our pre-op / recovery nurse and Lisa…. made the whole trip happen with her organization and networking skills.
The first day we were oriented to the small hospital and introduced to the staff. The Indian Health Service surgical referral system was explained. Category 1 patients, those with life or limb threatening conditions were referred out by fixed wing or helicopter to Rapid City or Sanford (Sioux Falls)or another large facility. Those with category 2 conditions waited for referral funding… which took a long time.. or never happened.
We were able to get into the OR that first afternoon for a laparoscopic cholecystectomy and a ventral hernia repair. The hernia repair would have had to go through a lengthy referral process and waited probably months for his surgery. Meanwhile, it was hard for him to work with his hernia – he had to stop several times a day and lay down and wait for his hernia to reduce. The OR staff was amazing, rounding up equipment and supplies that hadn’t been used for at least a couple years since their permanent surgeon retired.
The cases we did this week weren’t huge, miraculous ones (well the c-section and watching a little life emerge was a miracle!!) but they made a difference in the lives of the patients. The hernias and gallbladder removals didn’t have to be referred out saving the Indian Health Service money that could be used to give orthopedic patients referrals. Orthopedic concerns waited the longest for referral funding. These patients didn’t have to try to find and pay for transportation to the referral facility which is often a challenge as many don’t have their own vehicles. The cysts and lipomas have less pain and better self image. The house cleaner with the huge knee cyst will be able to work with much less pain.
We feel this first trip was a success!! We learned to improvise with supplies and equipment. We learned about the native culture and built bridges, meeting some amazing staff that we hope to connect with again in the future.
by Ellen Hanson, RN