Murphy M’s Blog   Back to 2013 Students

Wagner, South Dakota
Week 1

I can truly say it’s been an enlightening first week in Wagner.  I’ve been doing a lot of observing and getting a feel for the way the health system works in town.  Most mornings are spent in the pharmacy at the hospital filling orders with Cindy and checking orders with Christina.  They seem to have a good system in place which allows the hospital to function with the limited amount of time the pharmacy can be staffed.  I’m slowly getting the feel for how the dispensing machine works and how to fill it and do inventories.  

One thing that has struck me is the contrast between Wagner and other small towns. While Wagner’s population is only 1,600 or so, the geographical area it serves is immense.  It is the definition of a critical care site needed by many patients and must have the staff and equipment capable of providing a wide range of treatments for them.

Merritt and I have discussed at length the specific needs of the Native American population that is cared for by medical facilities in Wagner.  There are cultural and communication barriers that block knowledge of medical care, disease prevention, and healthy living.  We hope to address some of these areas in our final project.

Finally, a special thanks to all the nurses, providers, and Sandy and the kitchen staff for welcoming me and feeding me!

Week 2

Wagner has been a roller-coaster this week.  Monday, Tuesday and into Wednesday were spent doing a full inventory of the hospital pharmacy.  At times, it was tedious work, but there is simply no better way to get oriented in a work space.  I’m much more comfortable finding medications and running the Omnicell system used by nurses to get medications.  My other major sector of experience came from the Emergency Room.  We had many visits this week that included a car accident, a patient having seizures and falling down, a patient with diabetes and hypertension was mowing his lawn in extreme heat and got exhaustion, and a man with several broken bones in his leg courtesy of a cow.  The patient with the broken leg needed it splinted before he could be moved to Sioux Falls for a specialist.  Helping hold and wrap his leg was the first real contact I’ve had with a patient during a procedure.  In a town like Wagner, the doctors and other staff must have the capability to deal with a very wide variety of situations and patients at any hour of the day.

Week 3
We’re through another week in Wagner and I’m starting to find a groove in the hospital.  I’ve spent some more time in the pharmacy this week when the pharmacist has been in.  Wednesday was a big day for us.  We finalized changes to the formulary of medications for the hospital in the computer system.  I found it fascinating that every hospital on the Avera network can communicate so quickly with each other.  Seeing a small hospital as part of such a large network may have some drawbacks, but you can’t deny the benefits of the system.  As far as inventory goes, being able to share and exchange medications reduces inventory in smaller hospitals and saves money by sharing medications that would outdate in one hospital and trading them to another hospital that can use them.  As frustrating as the computer systems can be, the technology is a benefit in the long run.  Also this week, Merritt and I held a blood pressure and glucose screening at an apartment building for seniors during their open lunch.  We tested 24 patients which included almost everyone that came to eat that day.  I really enjoyed talking to people from the community and telling them about what Merritt and I were doing at the hospital and about pharmacy school.  The setting was perfect for our purposes because nobody was in a hurry and we could visit with people about their medications and overall health.