Katie Anderson Blog

Katie Anderson on her time in Chamberlain

Week One:

Monday

From the moment Gabby and I entered the facility on Monday morning, everyone was so friendly and welcoming to us! We first met Jess Neilan, who introduced to the department managers during their Monday morning meeting. Jess also gave us a tour of Chamberlain and Oacoma. There is so much more to Chamberlain than I realized! St. Joseph’s Indian School graciously provided us an apartment with a beautiful view overlooking the river. After the tour, we enjoyed lunch with Cheri Buffington at The Buterchurn Bistro. After lunch, we met with Dotty Hieb and learned about the Human Resources department. We spent the rest of the day settling in, exploring Chamberlain, and then enjoying supper at The Upper Crust.

Tuesday

I traveled back to Sioux Falls for class today. I greatly appreciate how accommodating the REHPS program and Sanford are of my class schedule.

Wednesday

I was unsure where to find the vascular department, so I asked for directions in the elevator. Ironically, the person I happened to ask was Penny Virchow, a behavioral health therapist (right up my MSW alley)! During some downtime, I got to sit in on Penny’s conference call discussing when to refer a child to a psychiatric clinic versus a developmental pediatric clinic. Later in the morning, I had the opportunity to watch Dr. Santos and PA, Marilyn do a sclerotherapy procedure! Dr. Santos is able to show caring empathy to his patients, while working efficiently to stay on schedule and see as many patients as possible in one day. I attended an afternoon meeting to discuss several topics, including the creation of parking spots for veterans. I also had the opportunity to visit with Christy Graves about patient satisfaction scores. Director of Operations, Paul Miller, showed me how he uses productivity reporting to improve Sanford’s quality of care. Lastly, Gabby and I ended our day with a quick visit to one of Chamberlain’s beautiful beaches.

Thursday

I spent the day with social worker, Jen Reimer, who oversees the 44 beds in the care center.

Jen is very knowledgeable in the field and involved with all of her patients’ care plans. Long-term-care social workers must be knowledgeable about all the reportable safety concerns and act accordingly. These concerns include: unwitnessed fall with injury, bruise of unknown origin, resident to resident contact (physical or verbal), concerns, and inadequate care. To end the day, Gabby and I ate supper with her PA supervisor, Beau Braun, at “The Busted Nut”, a local restaurant.

­Friday

We started our morning by learning about Materials Management with Brenda Burull and Facilities Management with Don DeBoer. Brenda’s department has to be incredibly organized because they handle the ordering of all medical supplies. Don’s department is in charge of the heating, cooling, generators, elevators, lawn care, fire extinguishers, and everything in between. For lunch, I enjoyed tacos with the long-term care staff today. I greatly appreciate that Sanford provides lunch for the students. I spent the rest of the day with Jen, discussing Medicaid and VA benefits. Jen is very busy in her role as the social worker, but never too busy for a chat or walk with the residents. At the end of the day, I headed back to Nebraska. The drive through South Dakota is very pretty! I look forward to returning Sunday.

Week Two:

Monday

Today was another busy day with Jen, who has a wealth of knowledge about all the ins and outs of social work in the care center. From doing assessments, to scheduling doctor’s appointments, to helping residents with finances and applying for Medicaid, Jen cares for her residents in so many ways. No job is too big or too small for her. I then spent an hour with the pharmacist, Melissa Rvbak, who taught me about the hospital’s Pyxis machine used for medication dispensing. I later joined the dietician, Mindy, for a hospital patient’s care conference. Last, I attended a trauma committee meeting with Deb Hamilton.

Tuesday

I started my morning by meeting with administrative assistant Cathy Stone, who provided me with advice for keeping up my credentials once I am practicing in the field. I also visited with the admissions staff and watch several telemedicine appointments. Then, PA Beau Braun took Gabby and I to the jail to see a patient for anxiety/depression.  In the afternoon, we visited with PT/OT, which was interesting to me because I was Pre-OT before switching to MSW. We ended the day with a tour of the lab where Scott Raterman showed us cultures and sensitivity tests. ​ Gabby and I enjoyed tonight’s supper in Pukwana, SD– a small town 10 miles east of Chamberlain.

Wednesday

I started my morning with the health coach, Jess Roskens, who works one-on-one with patients to create healthy lifestyle plans. She utilizes motivational interviewing, a technique we also in social work! Next, I visited with the Integrative Health Therapist, Penny Virchow about credentialing, insurance, and billing for counseling services. I was not able to sit in on a counseling session today due to a cancellation, but I hope I can in the future. Last, Gabby and I hung out in the care center’s activity room with the residents over afternoon coffee. We ended our day by checking out the view of the river from Oacoma, SD.

Thursday

I’m learning that you truly have to be a jack of all trades to be a healthcare employee in a small community. For the rest of my week, I was with Jen, who is incredibly busy with her social worker duties (and then some).  She has so much on her plate, but she somehow gets it all done each and every day! We also volunteered at the care center family picnic after work this week as well.

Friday

Friday’s activities were moved to an earlier date, for I had to return to Sioux Falls this afternoon. I greatly appreciate working with administrative assistant, Susan Choal, who has been very accommodating when it comes to schedule changes. I look forward to the activities she has scheduled for us next week.

Week Three:

Wednesday

Gabby and I were able to enjoy the fireworks on the river last night for the 4th of July! Now the holiday weekend is over and we returned to Sanford today. I started my morning in the ER, where the doctor had been tending to a serious firework injury and a broken bone (from being run over…yikes). Unfortunately, by the time I arrived, one patient was being transferred and the other was sent home, so I missed out on most of the early morning excitement. After the ER patients left, I attended a resident council meeting. The care center does a great job of giving the residents a voice and I really respect that.

I spent the rest of my day with the integrative health therapist (IHT), Penny Virchow. I appreciate that Sanford is striving for an interdisciplinary approach by incorporating an IHT into the Sanford’s services. Penny and I participated in an educational training about diabetes, where I learned that a patient with depression faces a 60% increase risk for type II diabetes! Penny’s role as an IHT is to look beyond the lab work and take a holistic approach to helping patients manage diabetes by assessing their interpersonal relationships that contribute to poor diet adherence and also help teach stress management to reduce emotional reactivity related to the frustrations of diabetes. We discussed an excellent example: if a patient is experiencing neuropathy, it’s easy for a provider to say “You need to manage your disease—Don’t you know you can lose a limb?” An IHT would take a different approach, exploring the ways neuropathy affects a patient’s quality of life. So, if the patient discloses that s/he is discouraged that neuropathy keeps him/her from golfing, the IHT can help motivate the patient to set goals based on getting back onto the golf course, rather than using the potential loss of a limb as motivation.

Thursday
I started my morning by doing hospital rounds with Dr. Eggers and the social worker, Jen. I also sat in on some clinic visits with Gabby and PA Beau, where I watched Gabby administer a steroid injection for hip pain. I appreciate how interactive Beau is with students, explaining concepts and asking us questions as well. Jen and I ended the day with some excitement, for she had to find ambulance transportation to Sioux Falls for two different patients. There were some interesting dynamics within these transfers too, including payer source issues and decision making among family members. It was a little hectic, but luckily, I enjoy the fast-paced nature of a social worker role.

Friday
Gabby and I spent several hours in the dialysis unit, which was an eye-opening experience. Next, we met with respiratory therapist, Jess Danko who let us test out a vibrating vest that helps break up the excessive mucus that COPD and cystic fibrosis patients suffer from. To end the work day, we made a trip to the HIS clinic in Fort Thompson with Patty Juhnke. This was my favorite part of my REHPS experience because I may be interested in working at IHS in the future. Patty shared so much great information with us too. She is truly a “social work super hero”.

Weekend
It was a great weekend in Chamberlain! I think I might miss it a little when the REHPS program is over! Gabby and I helped with the River City Friday Night event after we got off work today. It is great to see a small community come together to support local businesses and their high school teams. Chamberlain is really pretty for motorcycle riding, so my family gladly came and visited me this weekend too. We drove all over Chamberlain and Oacoma, checking out Al’s Oasis and other points of interest.

Week Four:

Monday

In last week’s blog, I said that our trip to IHS was my favorite part so far, but today’s activities were just as interesting!  I met with Michelle Schelske today to learn more about Sanford’s baby box program. The number of patients that deliver at Sanford Chamberlain without a crib ready at home is alarming. The baby box program equips new moms with a box of educational information, freebies, and a small mattress pad in hopes of meeting all the newborns needs. I really admire how Sanford is making huge strides towards improving the lives of the babies born in their facilities. After meeting with Michelle, I was able to watch an ingrown toenail removal up close in the clinic with Dr. Jones today (which was surprisingly interesting). I also helped Patty Juhnke do a suicide assessment, which I had not previously done in my past internship, so that was good exposure for me.

Tuesday

I traveled back to Sioux Falls for class today. The 140-mile drive from Chamberlain to Sioux Falls makes me really appreciate the accessibility and ease of shopping I have living in the city. You don’t realize it until you’re two hours away from the mall, Walmart, etc.

Wednesday

We met with Denise Leat, who oversees infection control in the hospital. It was interesting to hear about this part of healthcare since I knew very little about it. We also went on a tour of all the small towns that Sanford Chamberlain serves! Scott Raterman was a great tour guide and shared a lot of information with us. Prior to this tour, I was unaware that Buffalo County is the most impoverished county in the U.S. We also dined locally today- eating lunch at the Lode Star Casino in Fort Thompson and supper at Charly’s in Chamberlain.

Thursday

I watched a renal ultrasound and worked on our REHPS presentation today. Gabby and I were also able to go out on the beautiful Missouri River tonight! It was a great way to spend our last evening in Chamberlain.

Friday

Gabby and I spent a lot of time this month brainstorming what we wanted to do for our REHPS project and today we finally were able to present it to the staff! We titled it: “Human Trafficking in SD: Facts and Warning Signs for Healthcare Professionals”. As a social work student, I feel very strongly about working against this 32-billion-dollar industry (that’s more profit than Google, Starbucks, and Nike combined!). In my studies prior to the REHPS program, I learned that South Dakota has had more human trafficking convictions than any of the other states combined. Therefore, we decided this issue is important to Chamberlain–especially due to its location near the interstate and the reservation. While researching the topic, we were shocked to learn that 50% of trafficking victims are Native American! In addition to our presentation, we made reference magnets that included warning signs to watch for and who to contact if trafficking is suspected.

 

Overall, I want to give my sincerest thank you to Sanford Chamberlain, St. Joe’s Indian School, and the REHPS program. Although I won’t be providing direct medical care as a social worker, I think it was incredibly beneficial for me to be aware of all the ins and outs of healthcare so I have a better understanding of what my clients are experiencing. In addition, I have SO much respect for all healthcare professionals serving rural communities. They provide quality healthcare services while wearing so many hats! I hope that I will be able to find myself working in a rural community someday after my wonderful experience in Chamberlain.