Posts Tagged ‘black bear’

Surviving grizzly bear attacks, controlling drug prices, and training a Dragon.

July 13, 2017

The thought that gives me a scare

Has do to with a grizzly bear

For he’s big and he’s massive

And pretty aggressive

And, out here, not terribly rare.

Synopsis: I’m a Family Practitioner from Sioux City, Iowa. In 2010 I danced back from the brink of burnout, and honoring a 1 year non-compete clause, traveled and worked in out-of-the-way places in Alaska, Nebraska, Iowa, and New Zealand. After three years working with a Community Health Center, I went back to travel and adventures in temporary positions. Assignments in Alaska, rural Iowa, suburban Pennsylvania and western Nebraska have followed.  I finished my most recent US assignment in Clarinda on May 18.  Right now I’m in northern British Columbia, getting a first-hand look at the Canadian system. Any identifiable patient information has been included with permission.

Some people survive events far beyond the usual human experience.

Lightning strikes more citizens of New Mexico than any other state, and when I worked there I met several. The Natives hold such survivors in high esteem; some tribes elevate them, obligatorily, to Medicine Man status.

Alaska, with the highest percentage of licensed pilots in the country, seemed to have a disproportionately large number of people who lived to tell about plane crashes. I met survivors of gunshot wounds there and in Nebraska.

Today I spoke with a person who survived a grizzly bear encounter.

Most of the bears around here are black bears. Though they’ll eat anything, the majority of their diet comes from plants.  They climb trees, and do their best to avoid people.

Grizzlies are different. The largest land predator on the planet, they have an aggressive temperament.

The bear only bit my patient once, then retreated to keep track of her cubs (the person gave me permission to write a good deal more than I have). If you’re in bear country with the inexperienced, before you start out, make sure everyone knows to freeze if a grizzly approaches, and never to run.  Carry either bear spray or a rifle, and be prepared to use it.

I really wanted to talk to the patient about life and work in this area, but my primary job, fixing people, comes first.

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Price of medication exceeds the price for physician services. In the US, the prices have escalated beyond reason, making the drug company stocks some of the best.  Insurance leaves a lot of Americans without adequate medical coverage, and the cost of medication becomes an important consideration.  When I worked Community Health, all our prescriptions went through our pharmacy. The pharmacists determined the formulary (the choice of drugs), and did a good job of containing costs.  The facilities in Alaska have a similar system; in those places the people don’t pay for their prescriptions.

For most in this town, employers pay for health insurance to cover what the Province’s Medical Service Plan (MSP) doesn’t, like medications.  PharmaCare, a government program, buys the meds  for the low income segment.  Only a very few lack money for drugs, and most of those are self-employed.  The Indigenous and Metis (of mixed Native and other descent) have all their drugs paid for.

*_*_*_

Over the weekend the facility got new dictation software installed. The previous version had worked just well enough to let you think you wouldn’t have to proofread, but still made glaring errors.  Today I used the system for the first time, training my Dragon over the lunch hour.  It did pretty well, but, once, when I said Prince George it typed first gorge.

Time off from clinic for Canada Day

July 6, 2017

They celebrate the First of July

Canada’s birthday, that’s why.

On the way back from there

We saw two black bear

And gave Tim Horton’s a try

Synopsis: I’m a Family Practitioner from Sioux City, Iowa. In 2010 I danced back from the brink of burnout, and honoring a 1 year non-compete clause, traveled and worked in out-of-the-way places in Alaska, Nebraska, Iowa, and New Zealand. After three years working with a Community Health Center, I went back to traveling and adventures in temporary positions. Assignments in Alaska, rural Iowa, suburban Pennsylvania and western Nebraska have followed.  I finished my most recent assignment in Clarinda on May 18.  Right now I’m in northern British Columbia, getting a first-hand look at the Canadian system. Any identifiable patient information has been included with permission.

Canada Day, this year representing the 150th anniversary of the Confederation of  colonies Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Canada, passed largely unnoticed in the US, but well celebrated here in Canada.

Bethany and I slept in and strolled over to the Rec Center for the free barbecue, the third so far this summer. But the demographics of the gathering, not the free food, impressed me the most.

Canada can boast the world’s most ethnically diverse population. We saw a lot of Native faces, and a good mix of Chinese and South Asians.  Everyone got along with the famous Canadian politeness.

This part of British Columbia sports a younger-than-provincial-average population. We saw easily a hundred children with almost as many strollers as baby bumps.

Consider how this mix contrasts with southwest Iowa.

Iowa, the grayest State in the Union, has the highest percentages of septuagenarians, octogenarians, nonagenarians, and centenarians. Within the last year, during my two assignments in the southwest quadrant of my home state I had the daily privilege of taking care of a lot of very old, very spry people.  They had wonderful stories to tell.  A few had survived the Great Influenza of 1918.

We eyed the line for the burgers and brats, then strolled over to the skate park to watch youngsters ride bikes and skateboards around obstacles including ramps, stairs, railings, and benches. One young cyclist took a spill.  He got up and tried to ride the bicycle but couldn’t.  He walked it over to his parents , whom we recognized.

Bethany looked over at me and asked if I wanted to fix the bike. I smiled, and we walked over to the trio and explained I had fixed bicycles professionally through premed.  Sure enough, the brakes wouldn’t let go.  I quickly realized the front wheel had done a complete 360, twisting the brake cables, easy enough to rotate the other direction.

The day after Canada Day we took a drive to mile marker 0 of the Alaska Highway in Dawson Creek.   Highway 97 winds through pine-and-poplar forests, over rivers large and small.  I hadn’t seen any agricultural development for a hundred kilometers.  But we crossed a mountain pass, with tortured rocks exposed in the road cuts, and came into a valley on with lush meadows, herds of cattle and horses, an occasional flock of sheep and the odd goat here and there.  From time to time we saw fenced enclosures with hundreds of round hay bales stacked two deep.

Chetwynd hosts the annual World’s Championship Chainsaw Carving contest; competitors leave behind piles of sawdust and exquisite carving. We stopped into the visitors’ centre.

Of course they asked us where we’re from. We explained that most Americans don’t know where Iowa is, having flown over it but unable to name any of the 7 states that share a border.  Surprisingly, the staffers have a friend who goes to University of South Dakota in Vermillion.

In Dawson Creek we took the requisite selfies at the marker for the beginning of the Alaska Highway, 75 years old this year, and lunched on sushi.

On the way back through Chetwynd, we stopped at a Tim Horton’s, a Canadian restaurant chain a notch or two better than McDonald’s, for dessert. We couldn’t stand the thought of visiting Canada without at least trying such a national institution.

We took our time on the way back, curious about the various human installations that appeared out of the wilderness on either side of the highway, mostly to do with the energy industry.

Just 15 kilometers shy of our hotel, two black bears crossed the road, taking their time, but not quite slow enough to get out the camera.