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Bertha Moses



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Bertha Moses was born in Alatna, Alaska. She began her health aide career in 1958 as a volunteer and worked in her village until 1983 when she was recruited to manage the Tanana Chief Conference's Patient Hostel at the Fairbanks Memorial Hospital (later named after her). She returned to Allakaket in 1994 and has been living there ever since with her husband of 57 years, Johnson. She talks about her experiences as a health aide, working out of her home, communication with doctors and some difficult situations she encountered. Bertha suggested we interview Elsie Bergman, who was a health aide in Allakaket that she worked with for 35 years. This interview was conducted at her home in Allakaket.

Bertha Moses passed away on September 24, 2009.

Click on a section below to access the audio.

Bertha Moses talks with Marla Statscewich on September 13, 2005 at her home in Allakaket, Alaska about...

1) Her personal and family background information, and how she got interested in medicine and health care.
grandparents -- origins\ Kobuk River\ parents\ Alatna River\ Arctic City\ Tobuk, Cora\ Nictune, Oscar\ Alatna\ salesman -- books\ Bible\ medical book\  anatomy -- color pictures\ flood\ sister -- Hamilton, Stella\ symptoms\ treatments\ missionary\ missionary -- wife\ nurse\ teacher\ Miller, Anita\ Miller, Rev. Richard \ vital signs -- learning\ blood pressure\ CPR\ mission -- medical supplies\ needles -- glass vial|

2) One of her first emergency experiences, and how she began to learn to administer health care.
missionaries -- RN\ Mendehlsson, Dorothy\ Mendehlsson, Father Randy \ nephew -- injury\ treatment -- butterfly stitches\ needles\ treatment -- sutures\ soap -- green\ Tanana Hospital\ baby -- delivery\ births -- midwife assistant\ public health nurse\ immunizations\ injections\ volunteer -- “nurse's aide”\ training -- in home\ children\ injections -- oranges|

3) Learning about medicine, and some of the other early volunteers who served as health aides for many years.
medication\ sterilization\ needles -- preperation\ Bergman, Caroline\ training\ children -- immunization\ immunization -- administration of\ injections\ treatments -- Polio\ medicine -- antibiotics\ supplies\ babies -- hospital\ health aides -- improvement\ volunteers\ Beetus, Sophie\ Hughes\ Vent, Annie\ Aspen, Marie\ Huslia\ Williams, Jessie\ Venetie\ Russell, Nina\ Arctic Village\ Moses, Amos\ Chalkyitsik\ Yugpik, Lynn\ Stevens Village/ Billing, Nora\ Beaver\ volunteers\ job -- wages\

4) How communication between community health aides and doctors worked early on, and how the program changed as health aides became more professional.
training -- location\ Tanana Hospital\ births\ doctors -- visits\ books -- reading\ talking\ doctors -- communication with\ radio -- single side band\ radio -- call signs\ radio -- relays\ health aides -- diagnoses\ health aides -- prescriptions\ wages\ flood\ paperwork\ training -- Anchorage\ CHAP\ health aide -- progress|

5) How health aides were trained, sacrifices they made, and relationships they had with doctors and other health aides.
training -- duration\ training -- adequacy\ health aides -- sacrifices\ family\ career -- balancing\ job -- difficulties\ volunteering\ doctors\ dentists\ nurses -- traveling\ visits -- frequency of\ James, Dr. William\ Elterman, Dr. Floyd \ Brown, Dr. George\ Jones, Dr.? \ Dennis, Dr.? \ Britton, Dr.? \ doctors -- relationship with\ health aides -- treatment of\ disagreements\ attitudes\ radio traffic -- description of|

6) Improvements in communication technology and how they have impacted diagnosis of patients and confidentiality concerns.
communication -- types of\ communication -- changes in\ radio -- improvement\ radio -- satellite\ radio -- CB\ doctors -- communication with\ children -- sacrifices\ satellite radio -- testing\ Venetie\ Allakaket\ Williams, Jessie\ radio -- call signs\ children -- discipline\ telephone -- introduction of\ patients -- care for\ visits -- home\ boats\ Alatna\ snow machines\ walking\ confidentiality -- protection of\ confidentiality -- children\ confidentiality -- radio\ diagnoses\ medevacs\ airplanes -- mail run|

7) Some of the emergency situations she recalls from her career, and some of the most rewarding things she learned to do.
job -- health aide\ health aide -- success\ emergency\ hospitals -- emergency contact\ medevac\ Kotzebue Hospital\ Fort Yukon Clinic\ radio -- relay\ airplane -- flights\ meningitis -- treatment\ medevac\ medicine -- antibiotics\ treatment -- timing\ wound -- gunshot\ wound -- stabbing\ bleeding -- internal\ Tanana\ Fairbanks\ babies -- healthy\ treatment -- splint\ treatment -- Ace bandage|  

8) Deciding to move to Fairbanks for a job as manager of the patient hostel at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital.
training\ instructors\ Anchorage\ Fairbanks\ Tanana Hospital\ James, Dr. William\ Elterman, Dr. Floyd\ Lower 48\ job -- house manager\ job -- application\ travel -- reservations\ Mather, Dave\ city -- living in\ job -- health aide\ age\ interview\ Sam, Clara\ David, Kitty\ Bergman, Elsie\ Fairbanks -- moving to\ paperwork\ worry|

9) How she set up the patient's hostel and overcame her worries to find that she was able to do the job.
Fairbanks\ patient hostel -- establishment of\ patient hostel -- preparations\ patients -- admission\ patient hostel -- supplies\ job -- qualifications for\ church\ work -- people\ work -- paperwork\ self-confidence -- gaining\ prayer\ Chief Andrew Isaac Clinic\ friends\ sadness\ hostel -- name\ work -- health aide\ medication|  

10) The first time she delivered a baby.
babies -- delivery\ nurse\ mission\ weather -- cold\ northern lights\ sister\ delivery -- labor\ clothes -- warm\ baby -- crying\ afterbirth\ nurse -- assistant\ niece\ sterile pack\ hands -- washing\ gloves -- sterile\ delivery -- location of\ Tanana\ Fairbanks|

11) The difficulties of being a health aide, including the challenges it posed in terms of her relationships with family and friends in a small community.
health aide -- role of\ health aide -- difficulties\ village -- relationship with\ prayer\ determination\ patients\ fear\ relatives\ grandson -- relationship with\ penicillin -- reactions\ medicine -- epinephrine\ doctor\ Fort Yukon\ medical kit -- contents\ medicine cabinets -- sizes\ clinic -- need for\ clinic -- log cabin\ clinic -- uses for\ clinic -- new|

12) Improvements in medical care she has seen, and reasons why sometimes she wanted to quit working as a health aide.
medical care -- improvements\ health aides -- training\ training -- improvements\ EKG\ equipment\ communications -- types of\ telephones\ job -- quitting\ drinking -- beer\ son -- injury\ drinking -- quitting\ stress -- drinking\ drinking -- excuses\ alcohol -- dealing with\ public health nurse\ baby -- delivery|

13) What kept her motivated to work all those years.
job -- continuation of\ job -- interest\ motivation\ sickness\ symptoms\ need\ job -- wages\ job -- schedule\ children\ people\ family -- caring for\ siblings\ mother -- death of\ grandmother -- caring for\ dogs -- feeding\ fishing\ hunting\ cooking\ husband -- heart problems\ community\ people\ prayer\ people -- caring for|

14) How she has used traditional medicine, and some of the toughest issues she encountered as a health aide.
medicine -- traditional\ tree pitch\ stinkweed\ health -- issues\ alcohol\ drugs -- overdose\ accidents\ suicides\ wounds -- gunshots\ death\ medevacs\ faith\ community -- support from\ husband -- help from\ alcohol\ elders\ babies -- sick\ babies -- nursing\ daughter -- health aide\ health\ self-care\ stroke\ eye\ Tanana Hospital|   

15) How her family's diet and lifestyle may have protected them from disease.
family -- care for\ health -- diet\ diet -- longevity\ family -- longevity\ family -- size of\ illness -- pneumonia\ death\ missionaries\ illness -- tuberculosis\ tuberculosis -- survival\ tuberculosis -- resistance\ studies -- nutrition\ garden\ fish\ fish -- liver\ fish -- eggs\ fish -- whitefish\ berries\ food -- store bought\ autumn -- weather\ frost\ autumn -- roots|

16) Types of foods she and her family ate, and the factors she believes have contributed to many of the children surviving into old age.
health -- nutrition\ health -- family\ food -- types of\ food -- traditional\ food -- snacks\ spruce gum\ fish -- drying\ fish -- boxes\ fish -- dog food\ boating\ roots -- gathering\ roots -- muddy\ rose hips\ fish eggs -- raw\ whitefish -- broth\ father -- work\ work -- barge\ camping\ travel -- time\ dogs\ house -- log cabin\ smoking -- rules|

17) Her approach to providing nutritional advice to patients.
nutrition -- education\ health care -- preventative\ patients -- care for\ babies -- nutrition\ midwifes\ nurses\ breast feeding\ nursing\ patients -- prenatal\ babies -- overweight\ diet -- recommendations\ sugar\ high blood pressure|

18) Qualities of a good health aide, advice to prospective health aides, and the community response to the community health aide program and changes within it.

health aide -- characteristics\ health aide -- role model\ health aide -- trust\ drug free\ confidence\ hard work\ education -- opportunity\ calm\ kind\ health aide -- role of\ health aide -- respect\ village -- support from\ wages\ clinic\ job -- schedule\ hours -- on-call\ Allakaket|

19)  Her best memories and some regrets from her career as a community health aide.
health aide -- experiences\ memories\ regrets\ teachers\ mentors\ doctors\ nurses\ elders\ babies -- delivery of\ support\ alcohol\ work\ fear\ lives -- saving|