I went to the clinic yesterday and was very impressed. I haven't been feeling well for quite a while now and on Tuesday I couldn't talk very well. On Wednesday I had no voice and by Wednesday night I decided that was it, I was taking a sick day. So I came back to school Wednesday night and laid out substitute plans (keep in mind that going to school involves walking about 40 yards!) On Wednesday morning I went to the clinic. I had been sick long enough I figured I should seek medical advice (My general rule is if I still don't feel well or something hurts after two weeks, it is time to see a doctor).
So I walked over the the clinic (maybe a 40 foot walk from my house, I live in the old clinic building) and when I got there they asked why I was there. As soon as I tried to talk they had a pretty good idea. Since I had never been to the clinic before I had to fill out the regular questions and then after they processed my paperwork I was called back my the health aid. She did the regular beginning of a visit procedures - blood pressure, and weight. Then we went back to an exam room. I was really impressed by her professionalism and skill. Health Aids only have a few weeks of training and so they rely on a manual that they use to get the symptoms and then call a doctor in Kotzebue for a diagnosis. She also, gave me a rapid strep test (it was negative) and examined me. She noted the scar tissue in my ears from all the ear infections I've had over the years and I felt did a really good job on the examination. Then I left and she called the doctor. I got a call back that afternoon and they had diagnosed me as having a sinus infection and bronchitis. They also had the prescription meds filled for me (remember the pharmacy is officially in Kotzebue too, but they have a system set in place for this too...) I don't know all the details of how it works, and of course if the situation is too bad patients get sent to Kotzebue or if needed to Anchorage, but I think it is a good system for dealing with small things in such a remote location and even as a stop gap for large issues (the health aids also respond to emergency situations where the medivac flights are called in).