Thursday, January 13, 2011

Another week, some details about Northern Life

The past few days have flown by.  I've been very busy everyday with my clinic which runs every afternoon.  In the mornings I see any inpatients who I am following as well as make a lot of phone calls.  I'm often discussing cases on the phone with a specialist from Ottawa or I'm calling a nurse at one of the Health Centres in another community to let him or her know about a patient whom I am sending home.  Because so many patients come from smaller communities and are flown to Iqaluit for hospitalization or to visit the doctor, there is a boarding home across the street from the hospital where they stay when they come down for a test or outpatient appointment.  The patients are not allowed to fly back to their communities until their papers are signed by the doctor saying that they're allowed to leave!  All of these flights are paid for by the Government of Nunavut which is one of the reasons that health care costs are so much higher up here.

For the eastern region on Nunavut all of the pregnant women are flown to Iqaluit one month before their due date. They stay at the boarding home until they deliver their babies.  Then after they're discharged they go back to the boarding house for a night before flying home.  Often the mothers are quite young; most of the moms that I have seen have been between 16-22 years old.  They get very homesick being in Iqaluit alone, waiting to have their baby.

All of the smaller communities in Nunavut have only a health centre staffed by nurses.  These nurses are responsible for seeing and often treating patients.  They're able to prescribe some medications and they handle a wide variety of medical problems on their own!  The doctors up here give a lot of medical advice over the phone.  Each family doctor is assigned to one community; they visit that community every six weeks and serve as the person who the nurses can contact for advice.

All of this is so different from what medicine is like in the southern portion of the country.

I can't believe that my two weeks are almost over!  I'm flying home (directly this time) on Sunday!

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