By Adeline Wiseman, Session 1 Health Aide, Chefornak
We are YKHC employees in the first Health Aide Training class of the year! We finished Session 1 on April 26, and then we returned home to start seeing patients in our villages.
We were taught how to take care of people with different illnesses, such as sore throats, stomach pain, skin rashes, and pink eye. We were also taught how to start IVs, and what to do in emergencies, such as CPR, strapping trauma patients to backboards, putting on cervical collars for people with neck or back injury, and splinting broken bones.
Some of our favorite classes were learning how to care for common respiratory and eye problems. I especially enjoyed drawing blood draw on my classmates! We were all really nervous about starting IVs and giving IV fluids through a patient’s vein but it was a great learning experience, and we were able to do it successfully. This is a procedure that can save the patient’s life!
We learned how to suture and take care of different types of wounds, such as animal bites, burns and cuts. We also enjoyed learning how to give immunizations and other kind of shots that can save a person’s life.
When we see patients, we get a full history and do a detailed exam of the problem. All Health Aides are required to use a book called the Community Health Aide Manual (CHAM). It is great guide that tells us what to do when caring for patients.
As a Session 1 Health Aide, we have to consult with a doctor, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner for every patient we see. This process is called Radio Medical Traffic (RMT) because in the old days this communication was done by the old two-way radio.
RMT is when we submit all the patient information we gather to medical providers in Bethel. They make sure we are doing everything correctly, and they recommend more tests or treatment, or they tell us to send the patient to Bethel.
In emergencies, some patients get transported by Medevac plane. Before the Medevac arrives, we are taking care of the patient and talking to the emergency room doctor by telephone. Many times it’s very scary because the patient can be a very ill baby who can’t breathe well or a trauma patient who is in a lot of pain. We may have to start an IV, give a shot of medicine, watch the patient’s blood pressure, pulse and respiratory rate every 15–30 minutes, or just comfort the patient before the Medevac team lands. We always breathe a big sigh of relief when the Medevac team arrives!
Seeing patients with RAVEN, YKHC’s new computerized medical records, makes it easier to document everything, and it takes less time than paper charting. Also, we have access to all of the patient’s medical records from Bethel and sometimes Anchorage. Now we can help our patients better understand what’s happening with them.
We want to thank the health aide instructors for their time in teaching us. They are a staff of full time physician assistants and nurse practitioners at YKHC who are dedicated to teaching Health Aides all year round. They shared their wealth of knowledge with all of us. The instructors use a lot of different ways to teach us: lectures in the classroom, hands-on skills in labs, and seeing patients with us in the hospital or village clinic. We are also thankful for the patients who allow us to see them. It takes us longer to see them because we are just getting started. But it helps us to become better Health Aides.
As a Community Health Aide, being able to take care of a patient and treat their illness is a very rewarding career. I would do my job even if I didn’t receive a paycheck! To me it’s not about the money but being able to make someone’s life healthier and better. There is a lot of satisfaction in seeing the gratitude and smile in patients when you helped them through a hard time.