Photo of Elsie Bergman

To Allakaket Interviews

Elsie Bergman


Click to access transcript

Elsie Bergman was born in Allakaket, Alaska. She became a health aide in 1969. She worked with Bertha Moses for several years in Allakaket and became the only health aide in 1983 when Bertha moved to Fairbanks. She talks about seeing patients at the clinic, some emergency situations, communication with doctors and support from the community. In 2004, she retired from being a health aide and never realized how stressful the job was until she no longer worked there.
Click on a section below to access the audio.

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

1) Some background information about herself and being a health aide.
Allakaket\ Health Aide Program -- experience\ training\ mother -- Williams, Mary\ stepmother -- Williams, Jenny\ siblings\ health aide -- work\ patients\ training -- frequency\ training -- location\ Anchorage\ Sitka\ workshops\ immunity\ certification\ exams -- frequency of\ EMT\ travel -- difficulties of\ workshops -- duration of|

2) Her early days as a health aide.

health aide -- becoming\ health aide program -- involvement with\ aunt -- home care\ Moses, Bertha\ radio -- satellite\ mission house\ clinic -- opening\ immunizations\ patients -- visits\ doctors -- visits\ doctors -- frequency of\ James, Dr. William \ Tanana\ hospital\ doctors -- communication with\ patients -- transport\ transportation -- airplane\ medevac|

3) Some of the frustrations and rewards of being a health aide, and what helped her get through the tough times.
babies -- delivery of\ delivery -- first\ patients -- visits\ elders\ medicine\ emergencies\ death -- coping with\ community\ homes\ Sam, Clara\ retirement\ work -- fatigue\ family -- support from\ work -- difficulties\ potlatches -- missing\ frustration\ career -- duration|

4) How her job as health aide changed over the years, and a funny story about giving shots.
clinic -- location of\ home -- location of\ village -- history\ village -- relocation of\ flood -- effect of\ retirement\ career -- duration\ health aide -- experiences\ health aide -- lessons from\ work -- changes\ Moses, Bertha\ Fairbanks\ doctors\ shots\ disease -- strep throat\ illness -- husband\ disease -- pneumonia\ shots -- giving\ shots -- practice|

5) Her use of traditional medicine, changes in the types of illness she encountered, and changes in the conditions under which community health aides work.
medicine -- traditional\ patient -- care of\ birch bark\ pine\ cold -- treatment\ illnesses -- types of\ illnesses -- frequency of\ illness -- pneumonia\ illness -- strep-throat\ high cholesterol\ heart attack\ diabetes\ medicine -- changes\ medicine -- brands\ CHAP -- changes\ work conditions -- changes\ doctors -- communication with| 

6) A time when she was not able to contact a doctor for instruction, the stress of being a health aide and how it effected her own health.
doctors -- contact with\ accident -- gunshot\ wound -- fatal\ elders -- sickness\ hospital\ health aide -- qualities of\ equipment\ health aides -- quantity\ work -- stress\ illness -- pneumonia\ illness -- pulmonary embolism\ work -- resignation\ Allakaket -- population\ job -- dedication|

7) The rewards and difficulties of working in a small, tight- knit community and especially dealing with the issue of confidentiality.
work -- rewards\ patients -- thanks from\ patients -- confidentiality\ community -- size\ emergencies\ domestic violence\ clinic -- security\ Tanana Chiefs Conference\ patients -- rights\ domestic violence -- frequency of|

8) People who helped her during her career, and how being a health aide changes one's life in the village.
mentors\ workshops\ training -- quality\ doctors -- help\ doctors -- Tanana\ doctors -- Fairbanks\ Dr. Springer -- Fairbanks\ health aide -- role of\ training -- travel\ Anchorage\ Sitka\ emergencies -- handling\ alertness\ self-care -- importance of|

9) How she feels about having been a health aide and gives advice to prospective health aides.
health aide -- learning\ people -- getting along\ job -- quality\ training\ patients\ trying -- importance of\ village -- life in\ village -- outsiders\ communities -- moving\ village -- size|

10) A word of encouragement to future health aides, and some comments on improvements in resources for health aides.
health aides -- current\ career -- duration\ learning\ radio -- one-way\ radio -- two-way\ health aides -- learning from\ telephone\ doctors\ medevac\ communication -- quality\ communication -- speed\ resources -- improvements|