MARLA: And what do you think would -- what are some of qualities you think make a good health aide?
BERTHA: I think a person has to be alcohol and drug free. They have to have -- be confident enough, too. They have to be willing to work. When they get called, they should immediately go there.
I had to learn that the hard way because one guy, they called me and told me that this guy is having DTs, not really bad, but he was very restless and it was my bedtime, and I told them just give him light tea with sugar or juice, anything that has -- is sweet. And just stay with him until he go to sleep. And then I go to bed.
I didn't sleep very good wondering about him all night. That was my lesson. After that, when somebody called me for anything, I go and check them myself. I had to learn the hard way because worried and not sleeping was over that it was the same as if I had gotten up and dressed up and go see the patient and come back and I'd sleep better.
MARLA: And the -- is there any advice that you would want to give to -- to future health aides or to current health aides?
BERTHA: I would -- I would say to them, learn all they could because they have the opportunity to learn more than what was taught in my day. And I would say always be -- be calm and be kind. Not to say anything bad because people is the one that is our job when we are health aide.
And we shouldn't -- we shouldn't scold them or anything. Always be kind and calm. Practice being calm, then you will be calm. Not to be too jittery.
Once they start being a health aide, they get on, and if they are a health aide for a couple years, then they find out on their own how to adjust to most of it.
MARLA: And what -- what was the community's response to the health aide program, or to having health aides in the village?
BERTHA: They were really happy when it was voluntary, especially. They were grateful to me. And when I first started getting paid, some people think I was getting paid for -- one person, one older man told me that I was getting paid for nothing. And here it was about 360 a month.
That's because they don't see me work because they are not around me at night. At night is when -- evenings and night is when, that's before we had clinic. After we have clinic, then they know I'm at the clinic. But I was on call every day, all day, every day all year around as long as I'm in Allakaket. If I'm not here, that's all, I'm not on call then. Seven days a week, all year around. On call.
MARLA: For free.
BERTHA: For free. And then after that, start getting paid, they really -- they thought that was too much. But I -- I didn't let it bother me. If some people -- if some people think I was doing all right, that's good. Not everybody will think that.
I think the village needs to support their health aides, too. Which they -- they do. A lot of them support me. They were really nice. And all the way through, I had a lot of help from -- from the people, from my husband, from my children. I had lots of help.
MARLA: That's great.