Dawn’s Blog

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Week 1 Webster, South Dakota

Monday June 16th
I arrived in Webster forty minutes early, so I scoped out the local gas station located right next door to the clinic. I purchased a bottle of water and some almonds and headed into the clinic. I was immediately greeted by the CFO, Sheryl. The friendly greetings didn’t stop there. Evelyn showed Francoise and I to our rooms and introduced us to various people along the way. Francoise and I were each given a hospital room to be our home away from home. Placed in each of our rooms were fruit and candy baskets and a welcome basket from Sanford full of Sanford items. Between the kind faces and cheerful welcomes from the staff at both the hospital and clinic and the welcome gifts, it did not take long for me to feel right at home.

Cheri arrived to take us to lunch at Perebooms. It was great food! After lunch, we went to a meeting for Design South Dakota which is a program that promotes wellness in a community and tries to involve the community as much as possible in order to improve overall wellbeing. It was awesome to see how excited and passionate people from the community were about working towards a better Webster.  Evelyn gave us the grand tour of Webster after the meeting and we returned to the hospital. I took a long walk around Webster and took in the character of the older homes there. Webster is very unique and I enjoyed walking around, taking everything in. The first day was certainly good and I cannot wait to experience so much more!

Tuesday June 17th
This morning, we were scheduled with Missy, a surgical technician to observe cataract removals. I was looking forward to seeing how this process was done, so it was not a problem to wake up at 5:30 AM to get the day started. I observed the entire process for one patient, from check-in to discharge. It is a surprisingly quick process overall. The surgeon was kind enough to let me look through his microscope so I could see what a cataract actually looks like. After a morning full of cataract surgeries, Francoise and I attended a staff meeting. It was interesting to listen in at the different topics and observe how well the staff works together.  After the meeting, I followed Dr. Bynum and observed while he worked with his patients.  The day flew by and I’m eager to continue into the week!

Wednesday June 18th
Francoise and I spent the morning at Bethesda, the nursing home connected to the Sanford facility. We observed the nurses and visited the physical therapy room located in the nursing home. After lunch, we went into the community to try and meet individuals we could survey.  We spoke with a couple people from the community and set goals for our wellness coalition project. The Galley restaurant had wing night tonight, so we joined a few people from the hospital staff and enjoyed amazing wings. It was fun to see everyone in a relaxed environment and to get to know each other better. Everyone has been so genuine and kind to us!

Thursday June 19th
I spent the morning with Josh in radiology watching as he x-rayed patients. The afternoon was a simulation man training. We were able to participate in the Lucas 2 training. The Lucas 2 is a CPR device that performs CPR consistently and tirelessly. We also did two simulations in the simulation truck with different scenarios. The first was an organophosphate poisoning, and the other was a bee sting. The remainder of the afternoon consisted of spending time with Lola and her patients. I had the opportunity to look at a particular patient’s medication list and answer some questions on that, so that was highly enjoyable. Lola is great at explaining everything and open to all of my questions. It was a busy day today, but I enjoyed every minute of it.

Friday June 20th
Today was a pretty short day for me. Francoise and I sat with the dietician, Delaine, while she consulted with two patients. One patient had a goal of weight loss and better health while the other was trying to ward off pre-diabetes. I really like nutrition, so it was extremely interesting to listen to her counsel her patients. I was really moved by the weight loss patient. She was so motivated to make positive life changes with realistic expectations. My afternoon was pretty much free, so I went to the gym across the street to get a workout in. Dave, CEO of this facility, had me over for supper with his wife. They made steak, potatoes, and asparagus. It was amazing. We then drove to Roslyn, a town north of Webster, for their centennial celebration! We went to a dueling pianos concert, which of course was highly entertaining. I’ve had a pretty good first week in Webster, but it’s not quite over!

Saturday June 21st
Back to Roslyn for the first aid tent! Luckily there wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle today! I handed out a couple band aids and tried to stay hydrated. People watching was the highlight of the day today. I’m really impressed how many people come together for a celebration of their community’s existence. For a town of 250 people, the turnout was amazing! My week is officially done and I’m looking forward to a day of rest!

Week 2
Monday June 23rd
This morning we attended decontamination training. It was a very interesting and thought provoking experience. When there is a biological or chemical emergency, precautions have to be considered in advance to ensure the safety of the community and those involved. We went through a series of lectures and quizzes and ended with a tour of the facility and how things would be set up in the event decontamination would need to take place. I wouldn’t normally think of things like occurring in such a rural area, but the staff and trainers take this seriously. I could tell that the public’s well-being is front and foremost here in Webster. Francoise and I were the guest speakers at the Kiwanis luncheon today. After an introduction from hospital CEO, Dave, we spoke about the REHPS program as well as our wellness coalition project. The gentlemen and few ladies attending lunch were very inquisitive and welcoming. It was awesome to meet some more influential people from the community. After lunch, I shadowed Dr. Gravely in the clinic. She was so helpful and explained her methods and ways of thinking. She also included me in all the patient-doctor discussions. After I finished in the clinic, I headed across the street to the gym to get a workout in. What a great learning day today!

Tuesday June 24th
This morning’s agenda included sitting in on colonoscopies and upper gastrointestinal scopes. Dr. Christensen was very kind to us. He had such a good sense of humor and cared deeply for his patients. I witnessed polyp removal as well as biopsies of the upper GI portion. He also showed me a picture of a cancerous growth he found. I have never seen colon cancer before, so that was sort of a shocker. The surgical technician, Missy is very good at explaining the procedures as well, and RN, Roxy, is always making sure we get our coffee in before the procedures start. The outreach program here is amazing. It is so cool that this rural area and its inhabitants can access great healthcare without having to travel too terribly far because amazing doctors and surgeons are willing to travel to this community. We spent the afternoon in the clinic again. I tagged along with Lola. It was actually a pretty eventful afternoon. We had two emergency room patients (My first since I’ve been here)! I was impressed with her ability to handle her scheduled patients as well as the patients in the ER that were not “planned”. Lola has done a wonderful job of making sure we talk a little bit about the pharmacy aspect of each patient. That has meant a lot to me since I’ve been here. I absolutely appreciate what the surgeons, nurses, physicians, and other professions do on a daily basis, but I’m not always as engaged as when pharmaceuticals come in to play! After I finished at the clinic, I went for a run around Webster then came back to the hospital to get ready for supper. Kari, a nurse that works in the hospital, and her husband, Leigh met us at the Frontier for supper. It was great food, and great conversation. Being as we hiked to the restaurant from the hospital, Leigh and Kari offered a ride back; they even stopped at the local grocery store for us so we could pick a few things up. Leigh gave us a tour of the countryside, including places where water had destroyed and engulfed parts of the land. We drove through an old cemetery on a gravel road and looked at farm equipment. I could tell Leigh was very passionate about the farming industry and all it offers Webster’s rural areas. Kari is actually the mother of a pharmacy student who is a year ahead of me, so we had a lot to talk about. The more people I get to know in Webster, the more I love it here! Bring on the rest of the week!

Wednesday, June 25th
This morning was spent in the hospital pharmacy with Angie. She is the only pharmacist at this facility and works about four hours a day. There isn’t really a demand for more hours than that and Angie loves being able to spend time with her children. Angie showed us the layout of the pharmacy and what she does on a daily basis. It is inventory time so she was also working on that. After lunch, we were scheduled shadow Dr. Amin for his oncology appointments. He only had three patients who all happened to be follow-up, so we were finished with our day by 1:30! I made a hair appointment at the local salon, La Bella Vita, where Kayla colored my hair! After my appointment, radiologist, Josh, and his wife, Katie, picked Francoise up at the hospital and took us to the nearby town of Waubay to the Bitter Lake Lodge for supper. It was beautiful out there as we looked over the lake and ate dinner. The food was pretty darn good too. After we ate, we stopped at the Purple Cow, an ice cream/meat parlor.  I declined the ice cream, but picked up pineapple, honey, and pizza beef sticks! Yum! We took pictures in front of the tin purple cow to commemorate our evening!

Thursday, June 26th
We were scheduled to follow radiology/orthopedics this morning with Dr. Mantone. His nurses were so friendly and kind to us. We looked at x-rays prior to seeing patients. There were many orthopedic follow-up patients, so things were moving very fast. I tagged along for a couple hours but decided my time would be better served in the pharmacy with Angie. Angie and I picked out a new ampule breaker from a catalogue, and then discussed a couple clinical cases she dealt with in the past. It was fun going through her reference materials and comparing them to mine while I looked for the appropriate answer to a pediatric Acyclovir dosing for an immunocompromised patient. This is the sort of thing I like doing here! I may not be able to look at an x-ray and recognize a spur or joint fluid, but give me a pharmaceutical project and I’m in heaven! I had a few hours after that to chill out, so I took a nice, long nap. My next item on the agenda was meeting with Mayor Mike Grosek, who also happens to be the owner of Mike’s Jack and Jill, the local grocery store. We met him in his office at the grocery store where he happily let us interview him for our wellness coalition project. He was so friendly and genuine, so it ended up being a great time. We then popped next door to TLC physical therapy to speak with another interviewee, Jenn. While there, I ran into the vice president of the Kiwanis club, Dave, whom I happened to meet on Monday. Dave is also the local postman, and just a super neat guy. He agreed to meet with me this week to work on the survey for the wellness project. The rest of the afternoon was pretty anticlimactic. I took another nap, ate, read, watched TV, and hit the hay.

Friday, June 27th
Lana and Mary Jean kept Francoise and I company this morning in cardiac rehab. We had two patients, one monitored for post-operation, and one who has congestive heart failure. The patients spend a certain amount of time on one of the pieces of exercise equipment while being monitored. I spent the afternoon with Angie in the hospital pharmacy. We filled medications for the weekend and discussed the various tasks and responsibilities she has in the hospital. After supper, Dave and Heather picked me up for a chamber meeting at the legion in regard to development of Webster. The mayor spoke as well as other members of the community about the projected outlook of jobs and city development in Webster. I met additional people from the community and they continue to friendly and warm! I’m really enjoying all of Webster. I cannot believe it’s been two weeks already!

Week 3
Monday: Today we shadowed the providers in the clinic during the morning. In the afternoon, we interviewed the police chief and then went to Game, Fish and Parks to finish our surveying. The evening was spent at the Izaak Walton clubhouse for the Design South Dakota community meeting. I met some additional people from Webster who are interested in making sure Webster has a positive future. It was great to see so many people excited about the possibilities Webster has.

Tuesday: This morning was spent with Dr. Torness, a podiatrist. It was so interesting to me how the feet can be a good indication of one’s health. There were many diabetic patients that Dr. Torness saw. I learned how important a good shoe is for everyone! The afternoon was spent in physical therapy with Dave and Kyle.

Wednesday: Francoise and I had the morning off. In the afternoon, we traveled to Cornwell drug and worked in the pharmacy with Karla where we filled prescriptions. It was great to see how busy this little pharmacy was.

Thursday: We spent the morning in the hospital lab. They had so many machines to provide the providers with fast results. In the afternoon, we went to Cornwell drug again.

Week 4

Monday July 6th
I woke at 4:00 AM this morning to drive back to Webster from Sioux Falls. I made it just in time for our day with Dr. O’Dell, the community dentist. We were allowed to shadow both Dr. O’Dell, and his dental hygienist. I witnessed my first tooth cleaning, which involves far more precision than I had imagined. I also witnessed a tooth extraction, and root canal. It is so convenient for the individuals of Webster to be able to visit the dentist in the same building as the clinic, eye doctor, and hospital. I cannot believe this is the first day of the last week in this community.

Tuesday July 7th
We spent the morning watching Dr. Werth preform colonoscopies. It was interesting to compare his method to the previous surgeon. Both did wonderful jobs and explained the process to Francoise and I. We took pictures with some of the surgical team and spent the afternoon finishing up loose ends and packing.

Wednesday July 8th
Francoise and I put the last of our presentation together in the morning and went our separate ways in the afternoon. I was in the lab again. I tagged along for a phlebotomy to treat hemochromotosis. I had no idea that the solution to too much iron in the blood is to remove a liter! That’s pretty cool. I spent the rest of the afternoon helping the lab technicians calibrate their machines. Everything is so precise and needs to be working correctly at all times. I was happy to be finishing up the week in the lab. It’s always enjoyable!

Thursday July 9th
This morning, we accompanied Kyle, a physical therapist, to the football field to help some of the local athletes with conditioning. I led a group of teenagers in core exercises. It was pretty entertaining to hang out with the students of Webster. This was essentially our last day to observe, so it was sort of bitter sweet. I finished packing in the afternoon so I could make plenty of time to say my good-byes tomorrow.

Friday July 10th
I took the last load of stuff to my car and started making my way around the hospital to say my good-byes. Francoise and I presented for about 12 staff and had our last lunch in Webster with them. It was bitter sweet. I will miss the people that I met during my stay, but plan on returning for future visits! This whole experience was pretty incredible. I learned a lot about rural communities and have a new respect for the way they provide healthcare.