2020 Nathan Graves

My REHPS experience took me to the rural town of Redfield, SD. From the moment I entered the town, I knew that it had a feeling like home. Despite its small population, Redfield had many things to offer that I would never have expected, one example being a very well-maintained drive-in movie theater, one of the town’s many unique attractions. In addition, the city park was well-kept and housed a 9-hole disc golf course, something I enjoy spending nice days playing. Being from a smaller town in Iowa and attending school at South Dakota State University in Brookings, I had not had many chances or reasons to explore further into South Dakota, the REHPS program gave me this opportunity to explore and integrate into an unfamiliar community.

 I drove in on a Sunday night before the program began for the week to receive the keys to the house we were residing in for the month. To do this, I called the hospital after hours on a weekend. They were very friendly and one of the nurses kindly gave me a Sunday evening tour of the hospital so that I could more easily acclimate to it when I started on Monday. I felt like a bit of a bother having come after hours, however, it appeared that they have students come through quite often and were very welcoming.

As the days progressed, we bounced between different specialties within the Community Memorial Hospital, Community Memorial Clinic and Randall’s Pharmacy, all of which are in the same immediate location. I was able to follow specialties such as laboratory, home health, physical therapy, hospital/retail pharmacy and both physician and mid-level practitioners on their day-to-day activities. Many of these specialties were areas that I had never seen before and did not know much about due to my primary focus being pharmacy. We were on call many nights and had various patients come in with issues such as heart attacks, strokes, pulmonary emboli, cat bites, and many other health-related concerns. Unfortunately, we never got to see any patients transferred via helicopter, because the day that we had a patient who was going to be transported through this method was the day it was called off due to high winds and storm conditions. It is interesting to see how a “critical access” hospital deals with patients somewhat differently than a larger hospital would.

In addition to work at the hospital, we also met various members of the community and helped in whatever ways we could. We met the town’s emergency management official and had the opportunity to help volunteer at a town-wide food drive that was brought in to deliver eggs, yogurt, frozen goods and fresh produce to the people in the town. This gave us a chance to meet many members of the community and more easily immerse ourselves. We also met the town’s finance officer who also doubles as a council member overseeing one of the few city-owned hospitals left in the state. It was a great experience to hear what he had to say about what it means to be a city-owned hospital and how this is different from a larger hospital chain such as Avera and Sanford.

 It was fortunate that the Community Memorial Hospital decided to continue to take students despite the COVID-19 that has hit many communities. One unfortunate impact of this was that we were not able to see everything that students may normally be able to see on their Redfield REHPS experience. For example, it would have been a great experience to get an inside look into the South Dakota Developmental Center (SDDC) and how they deal with people who have developmental disabilities. We also were not sure where the nursing homes would be at as far as COVID-19 restrictions, but towards the end of our experience we did get to go into one and visit a patient on a house call.

 It was a great experience to follow around specialties that I normally would not get a chance to see. We also had the opportunity to help the physician we worked with as well as the Redfield School District on preparing a back to school COVID-19 presentation that the doctor presented on our final day in Redfield. We met many friendly members of this small community and helped out at a community food drive. I have always been a fan of rural communities and this one was no exception. Hopefully, I will have the chance to drive up to this area again sometime soon and maintain the professional relationships that I developed during my time on this wonderful REHPS experience.