By Beau Ruehlow
It’s really sinking in now that we have been working at Wanblee Clinic for three days, of how much we (Midwesterner’s) might take for granted. In terms of healthcare, hands down, the grateful people on the reservation have it very hard. Between long wait times, distances to travel, and just the daunting task of finding a ride, there are many obstacles they need to hurdle just to be seen by a provider. Not to mention, the closest x-ray machine is at least a 30-minute drive away.
Going back to what I said earlier, grateful is what the Native Americans are. They are happy to have this clinic and very happy to be seen by a provider. Yes, some seek medication or attention, but is seemed like the majority had major chronic diseases that need a specialist. They do not want to be swept under the rug, or forgotten about, but just want affirmation that their disease will not be it for them.
Pine Ridge Reservation is one of the largest and poorest reservations in the country, but one has to come here to really let the term “third world country” sink in. It is a third world country in the United States. It’s very tough to get good consistent care here. I’m a healthcare provider, so I talk to people about their healthcare. It’s very sad to see young children and toddlers come in with very poor dentition, skin issues, bug bites, ADHD, poor growth and nutrition, and know that there is nothing you can do for this patient long term. But in the here and now, educate, educate, educate. Parents seem open for advice and education, but with the sparse healthcare and poor patient follow-up, it is difficult to do those check ups. Hopefully to have children of my own one day, it will make me appreciate the systems we have in place back in the Midwest and how well off we actually are. No more complaining about how bad we have it when there are people within our borders are dying from lack of care that is much needed and deserved.
HEALTH SCIENCE ACADEMY STUDENTS
By Carolynn Devine
While the medical teams have been hard at work at the Wanblee Clinic, Megan and I have been spending our days with the Health Science Academy students. Our first day, we went to Wounded Knee K-8th school in Manderson, and today we are at Little Wound K-12 in Kyle.
It was Homecoming week at Little Wound and we were able to attend their coronation. The King and Queen were given beautiful quilts to wear. I had the opportunity to spend the morning with Troy McDonald, La Crosse Central High School Principal, who took senior pictures for several of the Little Wound students. I was able to talk to them about their plans for the future, and several of them are planning to go to college to become nurses. One wants to be a pharmacist and another is joining the Army. I was really excited to hear that so many of the students have plans for college!
We were supposed to help build a kickball field near the Little Wound school, but the weather had other plans for us. The students were able to clean out the area, but we had to leave the supplies for them to finish it on their own.
We ended the evening having dinner with the Health Science Academy students and faculty. We’re looking forward to another day with the students, this time at Crazy Horse School in Wanblee.