Indian Health Service Volunteers: In Their Own Words

Indian Health Service Volunteers
"I was the first volunteer in the Outreach Program with the Indian Health Service. I went to Gallup in July, 2008. I worked a variety of 9-hour shifts in the GIMC Emergency Department and saw a variety of patients, some typical for Emergency Medicine as well as some atypical. I also led on-the-job teaching and training in newer technologies and techniques used here at BWH. The most striking thing for me was the palpable shortage of physicians and staff. This is the one area BWH physicians can help with! I urge all physicians at all levels to consider taking time out of their busy clinical lives to volunteer with this program. Any clinical services you provide for this disadvantaged population and/or educational sessions you offer to the dedicated physicians and staff in the Indian Health Services will be rewarding for you and invaluable for this community." — Christian Arbelaez, MD, Emergency Medicine

Indian Health Service Volunteers

"Shiprock physicians wanted more training in minimally invasive gynecology surgery. Yet with such a low volume of surgery cases, it is nearly impossible for them to practice these skills. Thus, we invited the chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Shiprock, to the Brigham to observe our colleagues in action. He may see 11 surgery cases a year, while some of our BWH doctors handle 11 a day. As a result of his time spent here, a minimally invasive gyn surgerical clinic was set-up in Shiprock and they have increased their volume and expertise!" - Sarah Feldman, MD, Gynecology

Indian Health Service Volunteers

“I spent a week in Shiprock in 2009 and another week in Gallup in 2010. In both Shiprock and Gallup I developed and delivered a series of lectures covering various aspects of management of diabetes in both the inpatient and outpatient setting. After my time in Shiprock, I revised the scope of the talks to be a more connected and progressive update on management issues. In both sites I also met more with various groups such as diabetes educators, community workers, pharmacists. In Gallup I worked with the formulary committee chair to streamline the pharmaceutical options for outpatient treatment and to develop a stepwise approach to intensifying care. In both sites I was able to spend an afternoon with a CHR (Community Health Representative) or Public Health nurse going to home visits which gave me some insight to the barriers faced in these areas that are not issues here (lack of plumbing and extreme physical distances for example). I was able to spend time with many of the providers, formally and informally, over the course of the week and enjoyed that a great deal. And I felt fortunate to also have time to explore the area which is beautiful and entirely new to me.”— Margo Hudson, MD, Endocrinologist

Indian Health Service Volunteers

“We had the amazing opportunity to volunteer at the Gallup Indian Medical Center (GIMC) during October 2010. We can not say enough about our experiences! During our stay, we met with many pediatricians, family practitioners, pediatric/OB nurses, respiratory therapists and their respective managers. We also had the opportunity to meet with Dr. Mericruz Merino-a recent BWH resident-who now practices internal medicine at GIMC. Some of our discussions included the following topics:

  1. Round table discussions of common neonatal/pediatric issues
  2. Emergent ventilation strategies prior to transport of critically ill neonates
  3. Nursing (code and routine) drug administration procedures
  4. Entire staff inservice of American Heart Association/American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations of resuscitation procedures and equipment

We felt honored to be readily accepted by the Gallup group. They taught us about many of the traditions and beliefs of the Navajo and Zuni Native Americans. It was interesting to see the traditional Hogan next to the hospital – a real blend of cultures where the Native American can have a traditional healing ceremony and also receive medical care through the hospital. Doctors at Gallup collaborate with the Medicine men who perform the ceremonies and even schedule procedures and surgery collaboratively to accommodate cultural needs.

Dr. Kevin Sweeney (GIMC Chief of Pediatrics) and Ms. Lorelia Booqua-Pooacha (Pediatric Nurse Manager) and their staff were extremely receptive to our visit! They coordinated medical and nursing staff so that everyone had a chance to attend and participate in discussions. We gained tremendous insights into the challenges and rewards of delivering care to Native Americans and look forward to participating in future endeavors. Truly-a phenomenal experience! Thank you for the opportunity. ” — Dr. Robert Insoft, BWH NICU Medical Director & Rita Patnode MSN, PNP, BWH NICU Nurse Educator