Bertha Moses

Bertha Moses,
Transcript Section 6

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BERTHA:  And it was -- it was good.  Then after a while they started having the satellite radio.  That was much better.  It was like a two-way -- two-way like -- like -- just like a CB radio.  It actually, there are -- they were like car radios, the CB kind, but we were going through the satellite.  That was so much better.  Every day we can talk to the doctor.  And every day we listen to each other. 

But the trouble was it was at lunchtime.  And then my kids come home from school and I have to kind of tune it down a little bit and everybody. But if I have to talk with someone, I couldn't -- I have to talk, I can't tell them to go out, they are eating their lunch. 

And some of them complain, they don't want to listen to medical stuff while they were eating.  One of my boys complained. 

They -- our children had to sacrifice a lot, too, because they -- we have to spend time away from them and everything. 

I see my sister coming. 

MARLA:  Should I pause it? 

BERTHA:  Shut it off. 

(Pause.)

MARLA:  So we're back on, and we were talking about the satellite radio and how much Bertha -- that was for communication and being able to contact the doctor. 

BERTHA:  Yes.  And the first time they -- they test it, two -- several years before they actually put it out, they test it, too.  So they picked Venetie and Allakaket just to see how it would go.  So I had to get up four o'clock in the morning and record something on the satellite thing, and Jessie Williams had to do that, too.  And I was KB2X -- I was Mobile 1 and Jessie was Mobile 2. 

So they left that on for about a couple months, then they come and take them out again. 

And we had in our living room great big machines all over and wires.  And my children didn't touch it, though. 

They -- I didn't have to holler at them, they just -- them days, people disciplined their children quietly.  And most of them listened because we had 11 of them.  And some of the older ones were grown up about that time. 

So they came and picked them up again, then several years later, they had one in every village.  Then the telephones come in.  So now it's just the telephone. 

MARLA:  And did you treat most of your patients in your house? 

BERTHA:  Some of them -- oh, yes.  Some -- I made a lot of home visits.  I was -- it was nothing for me to walk, I mean, lots of home visits. 

In the summertime I used boat.  I drive myself across the river to Alatna, and dark, no lights.  And sometimes in daytime, sometimes at night.
 
And then in wintertime I used snow machine if it's available.  But if my husband is out with the snow machine, then I walk.  Walk across the river or walk -- I'd rather do home visits more than bringing them to our house because my kids getting a little bit nosey, too, and you know, we don't -- you have to -- there's a lot -- I always tell them, though, if they hear anything or see anything, not to talk about it, it's confidential.  So they learned that, too. 

MARLA:  And how did you deal with confidentiality issues over the CB or over the radio? 

BERTHA:  Usually we don't -- usually we try not to talk about things that you shouldn't on the radio.  We just treat people we need to. 

But that was very hard to do.  Every village know what's going on in other villages.  But mostly it says, you know, like pneumonia and fractures and things like that. 

We were trying not to talk about -- we don't really have to talk about a lot of things, we just treat ourself and -- treat them ourself, diagnose them.
 
And if somebody has a really bad stomach pain and this is very uncomfortable, we have to go there and examine the person, and then the doctor say what do you think is wrong with that person, and if we think it's -- if we think it's gallbladder attack, then -- then we tell us what the treatment is.  But for pain.  And then try to get that person out the next day. 

I didn't have very many medevacs out.  We usually wait for -- we usually wait for mail -- the regular mail run because there wasn't very much money to medevac everybody at that time. 

So we had to just do our best and -- and treat the patient the way the doctor wanted.  The only time we medevac is if they have appendicitis and -- or bad fractures.