Hannah Anderson was interviewed on October 25, 2005 by Marla Statscewich at Hannah's house in Bettles/Evansville, Alaska. In this interview, Hannah talks about becoming a community health aide, training she received, the challenges of running a health clinic in a rustic cabin without running water, dealing with emergencies, and always being on call. She also talks about specific challenging cases, dealing with the stresses of the job, educating people about health issues, changes in communication technology during her years as a health aide, and her retirement. Finally, Hannah reflects on her career and provides some advice to prospective future health aides.
Digital Asset Information
Project: Community Health Aide Program
Date of Interview: Oct 25, 2005
Narrator(s): Hannah Anderson
Interviewer(s): Marla Statscewich
Transcriber: Carol McCue
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Background information about her family and childhood.
How she became a health aide.
Her first training in Anchorage and doubts she had about her career as a health aide.
Moving back to Bettles after her first training and how she re-established herself there.
Her first years as a health aide in Bettles.
Some of the challenges of running a clinic out of a rustic cabin, including trying to maintain a clean water supply.
How she re-adapted to village life, the arrival of running water, and an emergency at a Swann Drilling mining camp that she especially remembers.
More about the Swann Drilling accident and stabilizing the patient, who eventually died from complications with his injuries.
What it was like to always be on call, and a story about an emergency she remembers well.
How she dealt with the stress of working as a health aide, and some information on how she helped with pregnancies in the village including an unusual story about a birth.
How health care worked in her village before the health aide program, and the role she played in educating people about basic health issues.
Changes she has seen in communication technology -- especially the fax machine.
What it is like to be a retired health aide in a community where she worked for 17 years, and a discussion of the village's name.
The distinctions between Old Bettles, Evansville, and Bettles Field, and how the names came to be.
What she misses most about being a health aide.
A specific case she remembers working with Dr. James on to treat a young girl.
About the mixed heritage of her village and how it has affected her in terms of languages, communication and her work as a health aide.
Advice for prospective health aides and reflecting on how rewarding caring for others has been for her.
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MARLA: Okay. So my name is Marla Statscewich, and I have the pleasure today of doing an interview of Hannah Anderson in her home in Bettles. Today is October 25th, and there's -- it's snowing outside and there's about 12 inches on the ground. And we're doing this project for the Community Health Aide Program. And I want to thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview and talk to me about your experiences here in Bettles. So thank you. HANNAH: Okay. MARLA: So if we just -- I just figure we'll start. If you want to give me a little background information, when you were born, where you were born, your parents, anything along those lines, and then we can continue from there. HANNAH: Okay. I'm Hannah Anderson -- I'm Hannah Tobuk Anderson. My parents was Dave -- was Eva Brasil and David Tobuk. I was born at Alatna. MARLA: In what year? HANNAH: 1924. MARLA: December 10th? HANNAH: December 10, 1924. MARLA: Great. HANNAH: And as I understand it, when I -- I was born at Alatna because my dad's folks lived down there. And the missionary nurse was there at Alatna -- Allakaket. But we lived in -- our home was Bettles, Old Bettles, which is five miles from here now. Down -- down the river a ways. And my dad was a riverboat pilot. My mother, a wife, homemaker. And my mother died in -- when she was very young. She -- she died when she was 29 years old. But she was born at Myrtle Creek near Wiseman up here. Her dad was a prospector back then, 1900. And dad was born, I think from the Kobuk area, so I'm not really sure where he was born, but over there somewhere. And I guess after I got -- I'm not sure, but I know I grew up at -- I grew up in Bettles. And we were just... MARLA: You said you were born in Alatna but you grew up in Bettles? HANNAH: Yeah. MARLA: Did you got -- did your mother and father go to Alatna specifically for you to be born? HANNAH: I think so. I think this is what they were doing because we came back to Bettles and I was a child down here. MARLA: And how many siblings did you have? HANNAH: There's four of us. Let's see, my -- my dad was married twice, so there's four more after that. MARLA: Okay. HANNAH: So. MARLA: And what number were you? HANNAH: I'm next to the youngest. MARLA: Okay. HANNAH: Yeah. MARLA: I just wondering if you did a lot taking care of your siblings -- HANNAH: Yeah, we did. MARLA: -- after your mother passed. HANNAH: After that, the two -- the youngest ones, which was myself and Rosie, took care of our little half sisters after dad remarried. MARLA: Okay. HANNAH: So yeah.
MARLA: And so you lived in Old Bettles all -- all your life until -- HANNAH: Until I was -- well, it was war days, World War II days when people all moved out of here. I was 17 years old when we moved into Fairbanks. MARLA: Okay. HANNAH: And just went from there. Lived in Fairbanks and -- and part of it the Lower 48. And back to Fairbanks. MARLA: And then when did you -- HANNAH: And then back up here. MARLA: And when did you come back to Bettles? HANNAH: 1948. MARLA: Okay. HANNAH: Uh-hum. MARLA: And -- HANNAH: Met my ex-husband, Jim Anderson. MARLA: And you started working on the Bettles Lodge? HANNAH: Started -- yeah, started at the lodge. Andy hired Wilford Evans from Allakaket to cut the logs and put up the frame of the Bettles Lodge, and we started from there. It took us a while to finish. It took a long time to get the inside of the lodge all furnished. And little by little. But we moved in there in 1951. MARLA: Okay. HANNAH: 1951. MARLA: And what got you interested in being a health aide? HANNAH: Oh. After living at the lodge and that life, which was 17 years being married to Andy, running the lodge, and three -- three kids later, actually four, but we lost one, so three, moved into Fairbanks, and raised my kids in Fairbanks. MARLA: Okay. HANNAH: Back and forth. MARLA: Right. HANNAH: Fairbanks and Lower 48, back and forth. And my -- my children grew up, Eva, the daughter, grew up, got married, got all grew up, got married, David got married, I was an empty nest syndrome person. Really. So I'm kind of -- I'm in Fairbanks rattling around, you know, empty house. And not -- no -- really no direction at that -- that point. And I got a call from Bettles, Evansville, who was my sister Rhoda, Helen McConnell, Frank Tobuk, who was -- it was after land claim, they were doing this village, you know, during their village established. And so on. And my friend Helen and my sister Rhoda called me one day and said, what are you doing nowadays? And I said, well, not too much. My kids are all grown up, I'm -- I'm really not sure what I'm going to do. And they said, well, how would you like to be a health aide? I said, what? What's a health aide? And so they explained to me, you know, what a health aide, we have a position here for a health aide in Evansville. And I said, oh. Well, let me think about it. And let me look into it. Because I had no idea what health aides, you know, that program or anything. I was too involved with my children, you know, schooling and this and that. MARLA: Yeah. HANNAH: And not really knowing what was going on back in my home village -- MARLA: Yeah. HANNAH: -- at that point. And so I thought about it and I'm going, health aide? Health -- health aide. So I called my friend Dr. Johnson in Anchorage. And I said, I had an offer from my village, Evansville, Bettles, to -- if I was interested in a health aide -- being a health aide for them up there. And he said, yeah, I thought about you. I thought about throwing your hat in there. Why are people thinking about me as a health aide? And so, you know, okay. I said okay. Called my village back, called my -- the Village Council and I was all set up.
HANNAH: My first session would be in Anchorage. And so I piled my stuff into my car and drove to Anchorage, checked in at the ANS hospital down there where they stayed, CHAP, at CHAP. And got all settled. Didn't know, didn't even know what was going on. MARLA: And do you remember what year that was? HANNAH: That was in 1970 -- '79. Yeah. MARLA: And so you went. HANNAH: This was in October 1979. MARLA: A scary drive down? HANNAH: It was a nice -- yeah, it was a nice drive. It wasn't bad because I didn't -- you know, I didn't really know what I was getting -- going into -- getting into at that point. MARLA: Yeah. HANNAH: But I was getting curious then, you know, so what's a health aide. I went down there and there was seven of us all checked in to start our training. And of course, Dr. Johnson, our first few days, was interview, you know, talking, saying who we are, what village, and them explaining to us what the whole program is about. And get a better -- I was starting to get an understanding on it, what was going on. Didn't know anything until then, you know. So the first few days was more lecture, you know, talking about, you know, what we're going to be going through, what we are -- how we start and all that. And I was fine until then. Talking about, you know, the whole program and all this. And everything was fine until I guess the second week or third week, I can't remember which it was, we started doing work, you know. Practical work. So we were going into training on the job, like going, doing -- MARLA: Going to the hospital. HANNAH: Going to the hospital with the doctors. And, well, actually, practicing stuff on each other as health -- health aides do, their blood pressure and always start from the bottom up. And that part was okay until we started doing -- going to the hospital and actually doing patients. MARLA: Patients. HANNAH: Seeing patients and all that. MARLA: What was that like? HANNAH: At that point -- it was -- at that point, okay, the next day at our conference, we was sitting around talking about it, I said, that's it. That's not for me. I'm not drawing blood or doing any of that stuff. So go down the line and talk to all the health aides, seven of us, and when it came to me, I said, nope, I'm not doing this. We have professionals for these things. We have nurses, doctors, and you name it, to do this stuff. MARLA: And did they say, you don't have them in Bettles? HANNAH: They didn't say anything. They just look at you, like, well, we're supposed to say what we feel. MARLA: Right. HANNAH: You know, what we were thinking at that point. MARLA: Right. HANNAH: Are you going to be a health aide or not. You know. I guess it was these trained people was looking at, you know, who can do it and who can't. MARLA: Right. HANNAH: And so.
HANNAH: Time went on, we were doing our work and stuff like that. MARLA: I wonder how long that first training was? HANNAH: Three weeks. MARLA: Three weeks. HANNAH: So after I said that, the next day I had a -- I got called into Dr. Johnson's office. And he looked at me for a long time and he goes, you know, you people out there in the villages have been doing this for a long time. You've been taking care of each other, taking -- you know, doing all this. He said, you know, taking care of cuts and burns, bruises, whatever, you've been taking care of yourself in those villages for a long time. And he said, now you can do it with help. With more help. You'll learn a little bit about, you know, what's good. He says -- he says, I say one thing, he says, when you get done with this training, the whole -- I think it's 9 weeks or something like that, you're going to know something. MARLA: And so that's what helped you stick through it? HANNAH: That's what helped me, yeah. I went out of his office and determined to go ahead and went through all, you know. And it wasn't blood I was afraid of, I was thinking why -- I think at that time, we were, like, working on each other and I'm going no, I'm not going to do that to her. Puncture her with a needle? No. And then puncture me with a needle drawing blood and stuff? It was -- but that was the beginning. After that it was serious business. Working. MARLA: And then -- HANNAH: And then after that first three weeks, I came up here and ordered my home, had it built, you know, because I had to have a place to live. And sold my home in Fairbanks, which I regretted afterwards. Because I felt like I got trapped up here, you know, didn't have -- didn't have a place to turn -- to go back to. I kind of moved a little fast after that, after the first health aide training session. Because at that point, then you're thinking about, well, you need to get to work now and do -- do what -- what they are teaching you to do. And look over my village, look at the people and stuff. Because I had been away from here for a long time, and you know, I had to come back in a different -- different -- MARLA: Role. HANNAH: -- role, different outlook even on everything. MARLA: Did you still have a connection with the lodge at that point? HANNAH: No. No. MARLA: Okay. HANNAH: Huh-uh. It was sold. And there was new people there. MARLA: And so you had your house built and then -- HANNAH: I had -- Independent Lumber had these packages back then, precut, so I bought that and had it shipped up here. Bought my little car, little truck out there, and shipped up here. I had help, though, you know, somebody else, FAA, there were big families here then, lots of kids. And I kind of -- I was lucky because there was some other freights coming up here, so we chartered -- I got in on a charter thing of a big airplane to bring up my building and my truck. And so came up here, put up my house -- they had -- had it built. By then, the second session was coming up. I can't remember the -- you know, the time lapse after the first session, but by then, I had another training session coming up. And so I got to leave away from here while they were putting up my house. MARLA: Okay. Where were you living in the meantime? HANNAH: I still had my house in Fairbanks. MARLA: Oh, okay. HANNAH: Yeah. So I was there. MARLA: I mean when you were in Bettles between your first and second session, where were you living? HANNAH: I just stayed with friends here for -- for a while until my house got -- got going. MARLA: Was there a clinic here at the time? HANNAH: No clinic. No. No council building, no clinic. Just a small little council building, I guess. Not the one we have now. MARLA: So where did you work out of? HANNAH: And no water. I -- I -- I was just -- they were just getting set up. They sent like all medicines and all that stuff up here, and we had them stored over at the council building. And so I wasn't seeing patients right away. MARLA: Okay. HANNAH: I was just kind of getting acquainted with my equipment and my medicines and -- and all that.
HANNAH: And then another training came up. By then, when I got done with the second session, I came home to my house all built and all. MARLA: Oh. HANNAH: Yeah. Real nice. People took care, you know, and had the fire going, nice and warm. But I had no running water. A wood stove for heat. And an outhouse. And -- but comfortable. You know. I had all my furniture shipped up and all that. And I was comfortable that way. And then I moved all the medicines and everything they had. My sister Rhoda was in FAA then, she took care of like the freezable stuff of medicines at her house. Everything kind of got moved by then, little by little, to here, to my house. And the extra bedroom back there was my clinic. MARLA: So you worked out of your home? HANNAH: I worked out of my home for over a year. Way over a year. Almost a year, going into two years. MARLA: What was that like? HANNAH: It was -- it was all right. I got used to it, you know. There was no problem. The problem was the water. We were hauling water then and -- and keeping -- sterilizing things was like you had to boil, you know, boil things. We didn't -- we weren't totally disposable. We had to -- like our suturing, we suture stuff, we had to boil those and sterilize them. And they taught us how to do that, of course. Now everything is in a package, disposable. MARLA: Right. So you use it once and then it's gone. HANNAH: Yeah. Well, of course, needles, stuff like that was disposable, but your instruments. MARLA: Right. HANNAH: Yeah. MARLA: Right. And does that mean that people came here on an appointment or did they come -- HANNAH: Well, I had a telephone. They were able to call and say, you know, a problem, I want to see you. Come on down. You know. MARLA: Right. Yeah. HANNAH: They just -- and we did a lot of -- we covered in this area, Evansville, covered outlying, Wiseman, Anak -- well, not Anaktuvuk. Well, we got some stuff from Anaktuvuk, I got some things from Anaktuvuk because they -- and Travis Creek, all the people that live out in the outlying out of here. MARLA: You were health aiding -- you were taking care of people. HANNAH: Yeah. MARLA: Like in a 50-mile radius? HANNAH: Yeah, I would say Travis Creek is 50 miles. Wild Lake. I saw people from Wiseman, they would come down here. You know, like. And I worked a lot with -- with the Public Health nurses or the school nurses. MARLA: How often did the Public Health nurses come? HANNAH: Twice a year. MARLA: And what did they do? HANNAH: They -- they -- well, they screen. They work at the school. We had 20 some kids then. You think now we've got three kids in town. Yeah, there was some 20 kids in school then, you know. And of course, the school nurse would come up and Public Health nurses and people from our health service in town. Everybody. There was not ever too many places to stay back then, so a lot of people stayed with me, too. MARLA: Okay. HANNAH: Our CI's, you know, coordinator instructors. MARLA: Okay. HANNAH: Their PA, physician assistant, coordinator instructors to the health aides. MARLA: How did that work? HANNAH: It worked good.
MARLA: What, can you explain a little bit more about what their role was? HANNAH: They train us. MARLA: Okay. HANNAH: Yeah. MARLA: So they would come to the village -- HANNAH: Yeah. MARLA: -- to train? HANNAH: Health aide training was health aide training nonstop. They'd just go from what new things that come up, your -- your -- your CI would come up and train you on that. Or something new would come up in the manual, you know, the change in the manual, they would come and help you do that. And change in the medicines. And -- and just ongoing. Every -- you know, it never stood still. It just kept -- you know, something come up all the time. And they were very good about always coming out here to -- you know, they -- they didn't just say, hey, you have to do this, they'd come out and make sure, you know, that you're doing it. MARLA: Right. HANNAH: And then they would check your medicine supply and they would check you to see if your -- you know what your medicines are and so on and how to use it. You know. They -- they train us, but then they keep up on it. MARLA: Right. HANNAH: To see if you're doing it. MARLA: Did you have the same CI throughout the year, or -- HANNAH: No. No. We changed a lot. MARLA: And did they -- HANNAH: The longest one we had -- I had for this area we had was Jim Androuli. Who is physician assistant now at Chief Andrew Isaac. MARLA: Okay. And -- and so you said that you were working out of your house for a few years, and then was the clinic built? HANNAH: They were -- our council was working on getting a clinic. And it -- it took -- it took awhile, you know, for, I guess, maybe some of the other village had priority or something. I don't know how that worked. But it took awhile for the council to get -- I guess it's like the funding or something to get a clinic. MARLA: Okay. HANNAH: And everything started to happen fast and we got a clinic. MARLA: Do you remember when that was? HANNAH: Which is still there. I'm not -- I forgot. But it was, you know, sometime back. MARLA: Yeah. HANNAH: Not too long after. I was health aide for 17 years, so here in my house for two years. So it was awhile. MARLA: So you were pretty happy to get it out of your house? HANNAH: Oh, my God. Yeah. I guess the worst thing that happened to me having it at my house is okay, no problem, visiting doctors would come out here and they would see their patients here. With -- with me working with -- with the health aide, of course. MARLA: Right. HANNAH: And we always -- you know, I was really strong on clean water. And so I had this big container of nice, clear, icy water. MARLA: Right. HANNAH: Over there. And it was like -- it looked like a garbage can but it was clean water container. And I had patients here, you know, and the doctor and I were there in that back room checking people and talking and patients waiting here. In -- in the living room. And evidently, somebody thought that was a garbage can. MARLA: Oh, no. HANNAH: Well, I didn't know it, you know, so we went in -- the next thing I went to get some clean water and here's a Kleenex and stuff in there. MARLA: Oh, no. HANNAH: So that thing, that whole thing, it did turn into a garbage can after that. So I had to start all over on my water thing. But.
HANNAH: A little bit of hardships, I thought, you know, after living in Fairbanks, modern homes and stuff like that. MARLA: Yeah. HANNAH: I thought, what am I doing? I'm going backwards. I'm going, like, back to when I was a child up here. MARLA: Right. HANNAH: Outhouse, honey bucket, having to dump it out to the outhouse. Hauling water. Heating water for everything. Taking a bath in a small tub. And going, what am I doing? Why am I doing this. And I started to think this after about two years of doing it here. Then I thought about it for a while and I go, why am I -- why am I making this such a hardship? I grew up this way. MARLA: Yeah. HANNAH: Hauling water, dumping out and doing this and that. Don't make it a hardship. I grew up this way. MARLA: Right. HANNAH: So then my attitude changed, I guess, and so it wasn't so bad again. But then by then, our council, you know, was pushing for water, village clean water, Village Safe Water, I guess it's called. MARLA: Right. HANNAH: And we got it. MARLA: Oh, good. So when the clinic was built, did it have water? HANNAH: They didn't have water there, either. MARLA: Okay. HANNAH: So we drilled a well right shortly after the wells were drilled up here. MARLA: That must have made things much easier. HANNAH: Yeah. A whole lot easier. The whole water system over there for the council now in the clinic and everything is that same well that was drilled back then. MARLA: Oh. HANNAH: So then the clinic, our clinic got running water, flushing toilets, every home got running water, flushing toilets, which was -- MARLA: Was awesome? HANNAH: -- awesome. Uh-hum. Wonderful. MARLA: And then were you the only health aide at the -- at the clinic when it opened? HANNAH: No. I had an alternate health aide, Naomi Castello was my alternate health aide. MARLA: And so as an alternate, that meant that you were able to -- HANNAH: On my days -- on odd days off -- I mean, once in awhile the health aide, you know, I'd go into town or go somewhere, she'd cover for me. MARLA: Okay. And did you hold, like, clinic hours? HANNAH: We had four-hour clinic. Yeah. MARLA: Okay. And then -- HANNAH: But on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. MARLA: Yeah. HANNAH: Yeah. MARLA: What was that like? Can you tell me about that? HANNAH: You were just on call all the time. You know, you were aware of it, and when the phone rang, what now, type of thing. MARLA: Right. HANNAH: And it isn't always like that. MARLA: Can you tell me about a particular patient or something that comes to mind that you -- HANNAH: Yeah. It's quite a few of them, but I guess the one that's -- and Naomi and I both, she had a -- she and her husband had an airplane. And Naomi and her husband Ron Castello had air carrier here and had radio in touch with different villages, Wiseman, mining companies. And Ron, her husband, was doing -- you know, flying their airplane. And Brooks Range Aviation it was called. And Naomi was working at their office and she got a call from a mining company up here out of Wiseman. And she called me up and she says, we have a bad-y. And I said, what? And she said, well, a mining company, somebody fell from -- fell 15 feet, I think. I think she said 15, somewhere in there. And they want us to come. And it's close to the pipeline and I think they had, let's see, medics close by. And I guess my question was, what about the medics, you know, that's closer to them. They want the health aides. So. MARLA: So you actually flew out. HANNAH: So -- so their pilot, Ron and Naomi's pilot flew us to Wiseman in a 207-type airplane. And we flew to Wiseman, got on a helicopter, flew up to this mine, and spiraled down into this mining camp. Landed the -- and we responded to -- to the patient who was Swann Drilling and it was -- MARLA: So. HANNAH: I guess they were -- evidently they were putting up a building and they were working on it and he fell on this cement floor. MARLA: Oh. HANNAH: Cement.
HANNAH: And so Naomi and I were there to stabilize him, to get him back in the helicopter and transport him from -- from mining camp to Wiseman, get back into the 207-type airplane, which is crowded. MARLA: Right. HANNAH: Get this big 230 pound fellow in there. And transport to Fairbanks. Those were the days when the health aides had to accompany the patient. MARLA: Right. HANNAH: Back then. MARLA: Right. HANNAH: Uh-hum. MARLA: Did you have to -- HANNAH: Didn't have a life like they do now. Nowadays, you know, they send an airplane out and the health aides don't have to do that, they just put them on the airplane and send them in. MARLA: Right. HANNAH: But we use to have to accompany the patient that we stabilized or take care of or whatever. MARLA: Did you have to go to other villages often? HANNAH: No. MARLA: Most people came to you first -- HANNAH: Yeah. MARLA: -- and then go on to Fairbanks? HANNAH: Yeah. Uh-hum. Yeah. MARLA: So that was -- HANNAH: Yeah, we didn't have to go out to the villages to do that, except when you get called to something like this, some accident. MARLA: Emergencies. HANNAH: Emergency. And that one stands out. You know, we didn't do that very -- very much. And we were both, you know, already probably a little bit stressed from stabilizing him because he was a really heavy person to move, and we didn't -- and he was pretty broken up. And we got him stabilized, you know. And he was kind of a big person. And so I can't remember how -- we had our manual, of course. Our wonderful manual. And so we were reading it and we said, okay. We need to give him something to do with his pain. So I was to do that. We had IVs going on him already, and -- and he's in pain, so we're going to give him a shot, right. I can't remember what it was now. And so I gave him a shot on his left arm, or where, I can't remember. Anyway, start reading the manual again, and I said, oh, wow, this guy is 200 and some pounds, that is not going to -- this whatever amount of painkiller I gave him was not going to do anything. And so that's when Naomi, she looked at me and said, better give him another one, so we did. And then that relaxed him, you know, and felt okay. Got him -- flew to Wiseman, got him in the airplane. Started flying, started toward Fairbanks. The weather was bumpy, it was not snowing or raining, it was summer, it wasn't raining, but it was terribly bumpy. And I'm back there with the patient sitting backwards. And all I could see is this -- the windows were like above the -- level with my eyes, and the airplane is kind of going like this, besides going up and down, you know, and Naomi's sitting up front with the pilot. The whole airplane is taken up with this patient, the stretchers and everything. And going along and I looked up at Naomi and she looked back at me and she said I was green. MARLA: Oh, no. HANNAH: I'm tending to the patient, making sure, you know, he had his moisturizers for his mouth. MARLA: Right. HANNAH: Checking his blood pressure now and then. Tending to him. But in the meantime, I was just getting absolutely sick, I guess. I just felt like I was going to be the patient. And then -- MARLA: Get sick? HANNAH: I'm going to get sick in a minute, but I didn't want to -- didn't want to show it. I'm taking care of this guy. And she looked back at me and she says, let's trade places. She put me up front with the pilot and she came back here. I don't know how we managed it, but we did, and she's sitting back there doing the same thing I was, you know, taking care of him. And that's the longest flight. MARLA: Ever? HANNAH: Ever. An hour, and I think with a 207, it was an hour and a half or something like that in this situation. MARLA: Right. HANNAH: And when I'm up there with the pilot, the pilot said, don't look down, look way away, you know, because I'm still not sure. MARLA: Yeah. HANNAH: I'm feeling very sick. MARLA: I get airsick, too. HANNAH: Yeah. That's the worst feeling. And he said, look over -- look at a distance. MARLA: Horizon. HANNAH: Yeah. Don't look straight down. So I started feeling better, you know. And I looked back and Naomi is all green. She's just -- I said, okay, time to switch. And we say, are we ever going to get to Fairbanks? You know. Oh, it's -- we're not thinking of ourself, we're thinking of him. MARLA: Right. HANNAH: What he's going through. And that's the most important is him. Never mind us getting our -- feeling like this, but we had -- it's a good thing there was two of us that was health aides. MARLA: Yeah. HANNAH: Which we supported each other. MARLA: Yeah. HANNAH: And made it. We got into Fairbanks. MARLA: That's awesome. HANNAH: Yeah. MARLA: And he was okay? HANNAH: He was okay. He died later. Way some month later. With a blood clot from, you know, from that. MARLA: Yeah. HANNAH: Trauma on his -- he had a broken hip, broken arm. He was all pretty much crushed on one side, evidently. MARLA: Wow. That must have been really hard. HANNAH: Uh-hum. But we were being really careful in getting him stabilized, with that leg especially. And getting switched over like that.
MARLA: And was Naomi an alternate with you for most of the time that you're a health aide or -- HANNAH: Yeah. MARLA: -- was there a long time when you didn't have anybody? HANNAH: There were a lot of times when you didn't have anyone, you know, you were by yourself pretty much. MARLA: Right. HANNAH: I got called out mostly because she was an alternate and I was the first to call. If they can't get me, then they get her. MARLA: Right. HANNAH: And so I was always pretty much available so I got called out, you know. I got called out one night when it was 60 -- well, I'm not sure it was 60 below, but it was cold, and it was that time of the year when it gets really, really cold. And I had to walk from -- from here to the house, which is way over there. A quarter of a mile. MARLA: Oy. HANNAH: At three o'clock in the morning. It was dark and cold. And I felt like I was somewhere, not on earth. You feel that way. All alone, quite dark. MARLA: And cold. HANNAH: And cold. Wrapped up, walking to this person. MARLA: And not knowing what to expect? HANNAH: Not knowing what to expect. Yeah. MARLA: What -- HANNAH: And that was an emergency. Evidently, he had a -- I don't know what he did, but he bit his tongue and punctured a hole and it couldn't stop bleeding. And this was a patient that was, you know, had -- was on Coumadin, which is blood thinner, and had heart problems. He had a lot of problems. And he should not be bleeding like that. And so he -- I guess he did it in his sleep. When he woke up, he was all -- you know, bled. And so he -- I got over there, checked him out, went over to the clinic, called the doctor. MARLA: In Fairbanks? HANNAH: Yeah. It was Dr. James was on call. And I gave him the condition, what was going on with the patient. And he said, you can't pressure a tongue. MARLA: Yeah. HANNAH: That's one -- one of those things that you don't put pressure on. It won't stop bleeding from pressure. And so he advised me to -- of course, he's going to be medevaced that day. You know. MARLA: Right. HANNAH: That's going to be. And he said monitor how much blood. Do gauze in the mouth. MARLA: And see how fast. HANNAH: And see how fast that get absorbed by blood. And I -- I did that. And a lot of gauze in there, you know, and check it so often. And if -- if he's losing a lot of blood, then I would have to start an IV. MARLA: Right. HANNAH: And -- and morning came. MARLA: So you stayed with him all night? HANNAH: And I stayed -- stayed there. And it was okay. It just, you know, it kind of slowed down. And he was able to take care of it with the gauze and not losing too much blood and not swallowing it. And that patient was medevaced into town. But I was just saying how health aides get called out to different -- you know, don't know. MARLA: Yeah. In the middle of the night. HANNAH: Middle of the night or any -- you know, any time. MARLA: Yeah. HANNAH: And you do it. MARLA: Yeah. HANNAH: You get up and you go.
MARLA: What helps you get through those sort of experiences or traumas or -- HANNAH: What was that? MARLA: What helps you get through those sort of situations? HANNAH: What help? MARLA: Yeah. HANNAH: You -- from -- MARLA: I mean -- HANNAH: From who? MARLA: -- personally, I would find it really difficult, and I wonder how you're able to do it and keep doing it. HANNAH: You get support from -- from the people. They -- they -- my village people are so supportive, they encourage you. And they stand behind you on things. You know. They know if you need a vacation or you need to take a break, you know, they will cover for you and type of thing. So they just make you feel -- well, anyway, it's kind of rewarding when you feel like you're helping somebody. MARLA: Yeah. HANNAH: You know. And that makes up for what you went through. MARLA: Right. HANNAH: I think. MARLA: Did you ever have to deliver babies? HANNAH: Not -- no. Not totally. I was thinking what point. Okay. Anyway, yeah, we do -- we did a lot of prenatal care, you know, taking care of women that's pregnant from day one -- MARLA: Right. HANNAH: -- on all the way. Our -- our advice, which our CIs always said, health aides don't deliver babies. Meaning you do all the prenatal stuff but you make sure that patient's going to be -- MARLA: Sent to the hospital. HANNAH: -- sent to the hospital or be with the doctor once they are okay. So. MARLA: We were talking about -- you said that -- HANNAH: The reason I said that health aides don't deliver babies? MARLA: Right. HANNAH: It's because we encouraged the mother to be -- we just do prenatal. MARLA: Right. HANNAH: We wait and we do it. But help. Public Health nurses would come out and help us, too, you know. MARLA: So did most people not deliver at home, most people would go to -- HANNAH: All the time I was here, people that had babies went -- went into town. MARLA: Okay. HANNAH: Yeah. The whole time I was a health aide here. But we had one family that lived down at Old Town. She went in to have her babies, the first two. The second one -- I mean, the third one she kind of -- I encouraged her, you know, you go in, you go in three weeks ahead of time. MARLA: Right. HANNAH: Or two weeks before baby. And it was in the summer and they'd come back and forth from Old Town, Old Bettles, up to here by boat. And she already had two little ones, and so she was pretty much tied down with them, I guess, didn't want to leave them or something, or her husband was busy with tourist clients and stuff like that. And -- and so I did her prenatal stuff, and I kept saying, you know, you need to go into town pretty soon. You're going to need to go into town pretty soon. Well, she didn't, she didn't, and she went in -- evidently, she went into labor down there in Old Town. Her husband was busy with clients, knowing that she was in labor. And so last trip, he went down, picked her up, was bringing her up, and some truck from FAA or somewhere down there picked her -- met the boat, picked her up, and she delivered in the back of the truck. MARLA: Oh, my gosh. Wow. HANNAH: Yeah. And so by the time we got her -- Naomi and I, of course, was alerted, you know, at the clinic. And we did what we had to do. The baby was born. And... MARLA: Tied the tube or -- HANNAH: Naomi got into that. She clamped and cut the cord, took the baby inside, warmed up the clinic really warm, took the baby inside, she was taking care of the baby. I'm tending to the mother. MARLA: Right. HANNAH: In the back of that truck still. Who was shaking and just kind of like a little bit going into shock, I thought. MARLA: Yeah. HANNAH: You know, it looked that way. And so I took care of her. Wrapped her up and took care of her. Whole situation. Moved her into the clinic. And Naomi and I both took care of -- stabilized everything. You know, baby was fine. Naomi had her all -- had him all wrapped up and cooing, looking cute, and the mother is sitting back there. And anyway, then mother, baby went into town that afternoon. MARLA: Wow. HANNAH: That -- we actually didn't deliver the baby. MARLA: Right. HANNAH: It was born already -- MARLA: Born. HANNAH: -- when we got it. Which was -- I didn't know, I think I would rather be there, you know. MARLA: Yeah. HANNAH: We didn't know how sterile, how anything was at that point. MARLA: In the back of a truck doesn't sound -- HANNAH: Yeah. MARLA: -- too clean. HANNAH: Had an old jacket or something. MARLA: Yeah. Yeah. HANNAH: You know, or something. But everything turned out fine. MARLA: Well, that's good. HANNAH: Yeah. She came back later on with a cute little baby. MARLA: Well -- HANNAH: Stuff like that, you don't know what you're going to get into. MARLA: Yeah.
MARLA: When -- when did you retire? HANNAH: Five years ago. What year was that? MARLA: So in 2000 you retired? Was there a health aide before you started working here? Was there -- HANNAH: No. No. MARLA: There had never been a health aide in Bettles before? What did people do then? HANNAH: I guess they go into Fairbanks for health care. And there were big -- a lot of families here. FAA families. And of course, there were airplanes -- they, you know, got flown out a lot -- MARLA: Fly. HANNAH: -- for any kind of care and that. And the state was here, they had families. And sometimes there was -- Park Service wasn't here yet. But some of them would be, like -- I always thought there was an EMT or somebody that had some sort of -- MARLA: Medical training? HANNAH: -- medical training. Yeah. First responders or, you know, type of thing. MARLA: But there are always airplanes here? HANNAH: Yeah. In and out. Yeah. MARLA: And so they were always in and out. HANNAH: Uh-hum. MARLA: And did you ever have a hard time getting in touch with the doctor, or did you always have telephone communication? HANNAH: I -- I always had telephone communication with the doctor. It wasn't hard to get ahold of a doctor. MARLA: Okay. HANNAH: Yeah. Some -- some of the places had a radio, and so I don't know how that was, like Allakaket, I guess, had radio at the beginning. We always had telephones when I started. MARLA: Right. HANNAH: Yeah. So it wasn't so bad that way. MARLA: Right. HANNAH: Yeah. MARLA: And did you have any role models or any people that you looked up to? HANNAH: Yeah. You mean as health aides or as -- MARLA: Yeah. Or in the profession. HANNAH: Oh, yeah, Dr. Johnson was one of them. And Jim Androuli. And lots of doctors. Public Health nurses, a lot of them, like they go out and take care of, I guess what they do, screening, immunizations, and stuff like that. Villages, when there was nobody else. No health aides and stuff. MARLA: Right. HANNAH: Yeah. MARLA: Anyone in particular that stands out in the Public Health nurse that -- or -- HANNAH: I can't think of names right now. When Andy and I were at the lodge, once or twice a year would be health -- Public Health nurses would come out. And they did everything. They checked. Yeah, I mean back then, they did everything. You know. They just didn't go out and screen kids and hearing and eyes and stuff like that, they went and they checked patients. MARLA: Right. Did they have -- did they have patients come to the lodge or did they go to people's houses or -- HANNAH: Usually FAA was here so they had counts of fact, they would set up clinic over there. And give shots and check people and do pap smears and stuff like that. MARLA: Right. And did you have to do immunizations for the kids in the schools? HANNAH: Yeah. Uh-hum. MARLA: And what else did you have to -- HANNAH: We did that and -- well, we were in a fluoride program back then. MARLA: What does that mean? HANNAH: That means doing fluoride. MARLA: Oh, okay. Fluoride treatments? HANNAH: Treatments and stuff for kids. MARLA: So you were doing that work, as well? HANNAH: I don't think they do that anymore. No, they had sent out these things to take to school and do fluorides. MARLA: I remember having a plate -- HANNAH: Yeah. MARLA: -- that they would put up. HANNAH: Yeah. That was -- see, I'm kind of forgetting. It was preventative dental. MARLA: Dentistry. HANNAH: Yeah. MARLA: So how to floss and how to -- HANNAH: You floss and you brush your teeth, and how to brush your teeth and stuff. Because we had that in training and stuff. MARLA: Right. HANNAH: We would just come out here and do -- it was part of the health aides' work, I guess. MARLA: Right. HANNAH: So we were trained to do that. We were not dentists or dental assistants, we were health aides that, you know, took care of that portion of the health program. MARLA: A preventative. HANNAH: Yeah. Preventative stuff. MARLA: So you didn't ever have to pull teeth or anything? HANNAH: No. No. No teeth pulling. MARLA: What other kind of -- HANNAH: All right. It was bad enough. To listen to today's kids, you would think you were pulling their teeth. Yeah. MARLA: Well, what other kind of preventative education did you perform in the village? Was there anything? HANNAH: I can't think of anything. MARLA: I imagine that -- HANNAH: There was preventative stuff, you know, would be -- what would it be? MARLA: Like I was thinking like, you know, diet or, you know -- HANNAH: We didn't do -- we didn't do too much of that. MARLA: Okay. HANNAH: I think, you know, a lot of it was like we talked to people about cleanliness, keeping clean, clean water, your food. When people have colds, you wash your hands a lot, use a lot of water. Cuts, you take care of cuts. You cut your hand, wash. You know, part of was common sense. Wash your hands with soap and water. MARLA: Right. HANNAH: Don't just bandage your -- you know. Medicines are not going to take care of everything, you know, you need to keep it clean. MARLA: Yeah. HANNAH: I took care of a lot of cuts and stuff like that. You don't want to get it infected -- you don't want to get it infected. MARLA: Yeah. HANNAH: Burns, cuts, or -- so you wash. Well, we'll give you some medicine to put on it after you wash it. Give you some Bacitracin to put on there if you wash it first. MARLA: Right. HANNAH: Yeah. That type of stuff, you know. MARLA: Okay. HANNAH: Everyday stuff people should know already, but -- MARLA: But not sometimes. HANNAH: Yeah. Just get careless. MARLA: Yeah.
MARLA: And I imagine you must have seen a lot of changes in what was in the clinic from when it started and as far as medical equipment. HANNAH: Oh, yeah. MARLA: Can you talk about that? HANNAH: Medical equipment and -- MARLA: Or even medical advances, you know -- HANNAH: Yeah. MARLA: -- that you've seen, lots of changes. HANNAH: I guess my first one was like faxing our materials, you know. I wasn't really into that. It took awhile to catch on to that type of thing. MARLA: Yeah. HANNAH: Because like I say, I had not had a lot of formal education. And it took work, a lot of work for me to, you know, to get it. MARLA: Yeah. And so that was like faxing medical records or -- HANNAH: No. Not medical records. Or did we? I can't remember. MARLA: I just wonder what you would -- what you would fax. Like a doctor's prescription or -- HANNAH: What were we faxing? We faxed -- I think mostly reports and stuff like that. You know. Like you're reporting -- how did it get started anyway? I can't remember. Anyway, I remember using this fax machine right before I retired. You go into computers, I'm gone. Yeah. We got fax machines. And I don't like it. MARLA: Okay. HANNAH: Okay. After being a health aide for a while, so years and years. Jessie Renner was our -- I can't remember her title, but she took care of health aides. MARLA: Okay. HANNAH: She made sure -- you know, we called Jessie for everything. You know, whatever we want to know or where we get something new, call Jessie Renner, she'll walk us through it and stuff like that. MARLA: And where was she based? HANNAH: In Chief Andrew Isaac. MARLA: Okay. In Fairbanks? HANNAH: In Fairbanks Health Service. And so we all got all the -- all the health clinics got fax machines. And I guess there's a problem then with -- back then with power surge or whatever that is. It goes up and down or whatever. MARLA: Yeah. HANNAH: And a lot of the fax machines was going -- having problems in some of the villages, evidently. And this place here, having people like the light and power people, when we got our fax machine here, in Evansville, they checked it out and they said you need to -- they set up our fax machine because they are electric people. MARLA: Right. HANNAH: And they go, you need a surge thing. MARLA: Like a surge protector? HANNAH: Yeah. Protector. Because you're going to otherwise have problems with this. So I didn't -- didn't have problems with my fax machine. But evidently, all the other clinics, some of the clinics, I mean, not all of the other clinics but some of the clinics was having some problems, evidently. MARLA: Right. HANNAH: And so, of course, when Jessie Renner sent out a -- she send us out notices, you have to send it to all of the clinics. MARLA: Right. HANNAH: Whether you're having problems or not. So I got my notice. Do not send in your fax machine, there's nothing wrong with it. You've been sending all your -- I've been getting too many fax machines in here and there's nothing wrong with them, send them all back, you guys take care of your fax machines. And I'm going, I don't have problems with my fax machine, but I was looking through, sitting there at the clinic, looking through a magazine, and there's a cartoon down here saying there's mountains and stuff and there's puffs of smoke coming out over these things hills and stuff, you know. Down here it says -- two people standing, one said, what's the message of the smoke, puff, puff? MARLA: Right. Smoke signals. HANNAH: And say fax machine something. MARLA: Burns up. HANNAH: Burned up or something. I cut that out and sent it to Jessie. MARLA: I bet she got a kick out of that. HANNAH: She got a big kick out of it. She said, I still have it. I have it sitting right in front of me, she said. I wasn't being -- you know, I just was kind of -- I didn't say -- I didn't have any problems or anything. MARLA: Right. HANNAH: It wasn't that, it was just that, okay, we'll listen to you, Jessie, we'll do as you say was my thing. MARLA: Yeah. HANNAH: But still I had to -- MARLA: It's funny. I think I've seen that cartoon. HANNAH: Okay. What did it say exactly? MARLA: I think it was, yeah, the fax was broken or the fax was burning. HANNAH: Yeah. MARLA: So she -- so she was the one who really implemented sort of this new way of communicating with each other. HANNAH: Yeah. Uh-hum. Absolutely. MARLA: And at Chief Andrew Isaac? HANNAH: Uh-hum. And she coordinated all our workshops and stuff. MARLA: And so when you say "workshops," does that mean you had to go to Fairbanks for workshops? HANNAH: Yeah. To Fairbanks. Subregional ones we went to, once to Anchorage. And we had -- I mean all the subregions. And they all do that. MARLA: What kind of workshops were they? HANNAH: Everything. MARLA: Like specific diseases or -- HANNAH: Yeah. And a lot of talk on what's new, what's coming up and all. And a lot of workshops for -- include a lot of -- well, we had a lot of ETT classes. MARLA: What's ETT stand for? HANNAH: Emergency -- ETT, emergency -- emergency technical training. ETT. MARLA: Okay. HANNAH: It's like EMT. MARLA: Okay. HANNAH: Okay. MARLA: So it was like training you for traumas? HANNAH: Yeah. Traumas and things. That was a good one because we live right here on the airport. MARLA: Yeah. Yeah. And I imagine every now and then there might be -- HANNAH: Yeah. MARLA: -- some plane-related -- HANNAH: Yeah, we had some already. MARLA: Yeah. HANNAH: Uh-hum.
MARLA: So after you retired, was it -- was it hard to not be a health aide anymore or -- HANNAH: Yes, it was. Yeah. It was hard to not be a health aide. You're glad you're not a health aide but you're still a health aide. Because for a long time, you know, you get -- especially my village, people, which is not -- I mean, I don't feel bad about it, they still ask me about things, you know. MARLA: Well, I would imagine -- that's what I was thinking is after 17 years, people begin to really depend on you. HANNAH: Yeah. They still do. MARLA: Yeah. Yeah. HANNAH: But -- well, we're not doing -- you know, we're not doing health aide work anymore. We're not even allowed to do -- go to the clinic and give out aspirins even. MARLA: Right. HANNAH: Actually. But I always try to keep things on hand. MARLA: Right. HANNAH: Supply on hand like bandages and Betadine, and if somebody, you know, can't get -- get taken care of or they are not doing it themselves, I can still do it. MARLA: Yeah. HANNAH: Uh-hum. MARLA: And that brings me to my other question, which was earlier you mentioned when we weren't recording that there is no health aide now. HANNAH: Yeah. MARLA: So what do people do during emergencies or traumas? HANNAH: Park Service have an EMT. And it was a real, really emergency, I imagine Naomi and I would do -- you know, I can still start an IV if I have to. MARLA: Right. HANNAH: And she always said she could, too, if she had to. MARLA: Yeah. HANNAH: We would do stuff like that. MARLA: How long ago did Naomi stop being an alternate? HANNAH: Kind of the same time I did. MARLA: Okay. HANNAH: Yeah. But we always -- she and I still are, like, aware of what's going on around here. MARLA: Right. HANNAH: Yesterday I -- we don't have a health aide but I had, you know, stuff to do, I called Chief Andrew Isaac and talked to the nurse there, if I can't get a hold of a doctor, I talk to a nurse at the nurse's station. And talk to the pharmacy. I was doing that for myself. MARLA: So that's what people -- HANNAH: But I would do it for -- yeah. MARLA: Would -- would someone else in Bettles call the hospital, you know, or do you do that because you were a health aide? Would someone be able to call the hospital for help or for advice? HANNAH: I would -- I would probably -- I haven't had to, but I -- I would probably guide them anyway, you know, call -- call Chief Andrew Isaac, call here, and get ahold of -- you know. If they need it. MARLA: Yeah. HANNAH: Just about everybody know they take care of themselves right now. MARLA: Yeah. How many people live in Bettles now? HANNAH: I'm not sure. All together, with down there and up here. MARLA: Yeah. HANNAH: Summer, and wintertime goes down to almost nothing around here. MARLA: Right. HANNAH: It's probably -- well, I'm not sure. MARLA: And Bettles and Evansville, maybe you can clarify that for me. There's a -- can you clarify that for me? HANNAH: Bettles? MARLA: Yeah. There's Bettles Field and there's Evansville. HANNAH: Yeah. We are Evansville Corporation, or Evansville Village, tribal. MARLA: Okay. HANNAH: Has nothing to do with Bettles Field people. Nothing to do with Park Service or the individual people. MARLA: So Bettles is Park Service and -- HANNAH: Uh-hum. MARLA: -- the airport mostly? HANNAH: Yeah. I guess -- MARLA: And Evansville -- HANNAH: I guess when we were establishing or forming a village here, they -- they were looking for a name, to name their -- their corporation, our corporation. So they -- they named it Evans because I guess Evans was the first one to -- MARLA: Settle here or -- HANNAH: -- settle here. Yeah. I look back on it now, we should call it Bettles, like Old Bettles. MARLA: Right. HANNAH: Just moved to here. MARLA: Yeah. Well, that's why I was a little confused because I knew that this is called Evansville, but I didn't know how it was connected with -- HANNAH: Yeah. MARLA: -- Bettles. And then I knew there was an Old Bettles. HANNAH: I think we kind of regretted it -- I personally regretted it right away that it should have just been called Bettles. Because Bettles Field and Bettles -- Bettles Field is Bettles Field. MARLA: Right. HANNAH: Because the runway is here. MARLA: Yeah. HANNAH: And old -- Old Bettles is five miles down from here. It's the Old Bettles. MARLA: Right. HANNAH: You know, established way -- MARLA: And that's where. HANNAH: In 1900s. MARLA: And that's where you grew up? HANNAH: That's where I grew up. And I wish now that we had named this Bettles. And just say it moved to here. MARLA: Yeah. Old Bettles. HANNAH: It wouldn't be so confusing. Evansville. Are you from Evansville, Indiana? Something like that.
MARLA: And Old Bettles moved because of a flood or -- HANNAH: No. Back in the '50s, FAA was the big thing here. It was totally gone when I was out of here, when this was happening, but back in 19 -- the middle 1940s, war was going on still, or somewhere in there, this -- the FAA stations was all over the state, as you know. MARLA: Right. HANNAH: Yeah. They had FAA station just about every -- every village. MARLA: Right. HANNAH: Tanana, Galena, Kotzebue, everywhere. And Bettles was one of them, one of the FAA stations. First put it up down at Old Town, the Flight Service station was down there. That was -- would be in the '40s. MARLA: Okay. HANNAH: And I guess, of course, they had to put a runway in, if they have a Flight Service. And it's, I guess, like Fairbanks, Bettles, Umiat, Barrow, it was the line for what was going on up North. MARLA: The White Alice? HANNAH: Yeah, the White Alices and DEW Line and stuff. Yeah. Okay. And when they started to put the runway in down there, it wasn't suit -- it wasn't -- it just didn't work out. I don't really know why. MARLA: Right. HANNAH: So they scouted for a suitable runway area, and one of the Old-Timers, Big Charlie showed them as a scout, showing them where this would be -- MARLA: Perfect. HANNAH: -- a perfect place for a runway. And that's why it started here. So FAA was separated. The maintenance and runway -- runway maintenance and all of that, power and everything was here, and the Flight Service, the communicators and everybody, you know, that talked on the radio to airplanes and stuff -- MARLA: Right. HANNAH: -- was down there at Old Town. So they were separated. And in the late 1940s and early '50s, they moved the Flight Service station and housing and everything up here. Built some more housing, brought in some more families. And that was FAA. And that's when Andy and I started the lodge at the same time. And it seemed like that everything was kind of like coming back after the war. MARLA: Right. And did you -- did you have your children here in Bettles or did you -- HANNAH: I -- I -- my children were born in Bettles but I was living here. I mean, my children was born in Fairbanks. MARLA: Okay. HANNAH: But I was living here. MARLA: So you flew into Fairbanks and -- HANNAH: Yeah. MARLA: -- and until -- until they came? HANNAH: Yeah. MARLA: Okay. HANNAH: And my whole nine months, prenatal, everything in Fairbanks. So we were with the airlines, so it was easy for Andy and I. MARLA: I wonder at that time were people having children in the village or were they also flying -- HANNAH: They were being flown -- flown to Tanana. MARLA: Okay. HANNAH: A lot of them. Or and a lot of us into Fairbanks. A lot of the FAA families went to Fairbanks. Uh-hum. The McConnell twins was born in Fairbanks.
MARLA: I just was sort of wondering, when you first started being a health aide, if Tanana was open, if the Tanana Hospital was -- HANNAH: When I was being a health aide? MARLA: In the beginning. HANNAH: It was closing. MARLA: It was closing. HANNAH: It was closing, yeah. MARLA: So you didn't ever communicate with the doctors in Tanana? HANNAH: No. Huh-uh. It was all Fairbanks on the phone. MARLA: Okay. That's interesting. HANNAH: But some of the health aides did, though. MARLA: Yeah. HANNAH: Downriver. MARLA: Still were communicating with -- HANNAH: I think Bertha said she talked with doctors from Tanana. MARLA: Tanana. And that's what I was wondering, I know that this service area was a really large service area. HANNAH: Yeah. MARLA: It covered a tremendous area. HANNAH: Uh-hum. MARLA: And what -- I wondered whether you were still communicating with Tanana or with Fairbanks at that time, and when that might have switched over. It sounds like it must have been in the early '70s -- HANNAH: Yeah. MARLA: -- when they closed. HANNAH: Yeah. I think -- I don't know what was going on before 1979, as far as community health, because I was gone for a long while. MARLA: Yeah. HANNAH: I was gone from '65 until '79. So that period, I don't know what happened -- what was going on. MARLA: What do you miss most about being retired now and not being a health aide? HANNAH: What do I miss most about it? MARLA: Yeah. HANNAH: Not being a health aide? MARLA: Well, we can ask later then, what do you like most about being a health aide? HANNAH: What do I miss mostly. Well, at the beginning when I first retired being a health aide, I missed it. I felt like I was cut off from -- from the world. MARLA: Yeah. HANNAH: Because you were so in touch with people. With the workshop -- you know, with the whole area. MARLA: Yeah. Not just in the villages. HANNAH: All the seven regions, yeah. You knew people from all over, you know. Galena, McGrath, Rampart. You just got to know people. MARLA: From workshops and training? HANNAH: From workshops and trainings and, get -- you know, that whole program, it was just so wonderful. And you -- you felt like you were not alone, you know. MARLA: Yeah. HANNAH: You were with people that was doing the same thing you were. And -- and they were -- I guess we became a family like. We see one another somewhere in stores and everything, we just run and hug and say, oh, you're from Minnesota to or you're from, you know, Arctic Village or, you know, people all over. MARLA: Yeah. HANNAH: And that's -- I miss that. I felt like I was shut off from the world when I retired. I just -- I missed it. MARLA: Yeah. HANNAH: And it -- it just kind of stayed that way for a long time. MARLA: And then, well, I guess, what did you like best about being a health aide? HANNAH: What did I like best about being a health aide? That, I guess, knowing people. MARLA: Yeah. HANNAH: And I was cut off from all these wonderful doctors I got to talk to all the time, you know. MARLA: Yeah. HANNAH: On the -- on the phone. Except for Dr. James was a little hard on us, but I liked it, though. MARLA: How was he hard? HANNAH: He just told us like it is. MARLA: Right. HANNAH: Yeah.
HANNAH: I had -- when I first started, I had a patient and a little girl. And I'm checking her out. You're trained to check them out before you do anything. Right? But you're also trained to get in touch with the doctor and make sure you're doing the right thing. MARLA: Right. HANNAH: Okay. So -- and in our manual, going by the book. So I check this girl out, this little girl. I can't remember how old she was. Five. And she's a state person, of course. But they were not -- they are not beneficiaries, but she's sick. MARLA: Right. HANNAH: And I'm seeing her. You know. And checked her all out and everything, and so -- and then I report her to the doctor. I went through my whole report, you know. And he says, well, what do you think you should do? And I said, amoxacillin? Well, I said, okay. You talk about being like... And so I treated her and you get her measurements and everything and advise the mother, give her the whole get in touch with me if the fever hasn't gone down, this and that. And you know, everything. I started her on antibiotics. And felt good. Except I felt a little like he could have talked nicer to me, and maybe I was already, you know, like -- I'm already -- well, he didn't perk me up, that's for sure. MARLA: Right. Bedside manner always will. HANNAH: Yeah. Yeah. So anyway, but I liked it, though. He was always right. MARLA: Yeah. HANNAH: Yeah. He would -- Dr. James was always right. MARLA: And he was the person you talked to the most? HANNAH: Well, he was our head doctor at Chief Andrew Isaac then, you know. You got to talk to him quite a bit. Not if we can help it. MARLA: So that means -- HANNAH: He won't like that. MARLA: So that means that you won't -- you didn't have to call a doctor every time you saw a patient, only when you needed to get advice or when did you call the doctor? When did you have to call the doctor? HANNAH: Not every time. MARLA: Okay. HANNAH: There were a lot of things that we took care of that we know, we follow up on, we know it will be okay. But this is a kid that's never had penicillin before. MARLA: Right. HANNAH: Or any of the cillins, and we know about that. And -- and she's not, you know, is not a -- not a little Native kid. She's -- and I kind of -- I felt like I didn't know them and I had to be really careful and do all, you know. Well, you do with everybody, but you do this more like I need to report this. MARLA: Right. HANNAH: Well, I would do it for -- for any other kid, too, if I wasn't -- with a little kid you want to be careful to start them on something who's never had any medicines like that before, they didn't know if she was allergic, the mother, we don't know. MARLA: Yeah. HANNAH: And that's one of the reasons I -- one of the big reasons I reported the whole thing because it -- it needs to -- it needs to be doctors. MARLA: Right. HANNAH: As it turned out, she was allergic. A couple of days later, the mother called me and she said, she's broken out with rash all over her, and I said, stop the medicine, I went down to see her and report her again. So we just took her off the penicillin, had to do something else. MARLA: And then she was okay? HANNAH: Uh-hum. She was okay. She grew up. When they left here, her mother said, you're the only doctor she's ever had. Yeah. MARLA: That's pretty great. HANNAH: Yeah. An adopted little girl.
MARLA: And I was wondering, too, what -- what was it like living in the same village where you were treating people? Was that difficult or was it -- HANNAH: It was -- we -- I live in a village where it's not total, like, Allakaket is total Native village. MARLA: Right. HANNAH: I am a mixed village. MARLA: Right. HANNAH: But I grew up that way. We called them Old-Timers. Yeah. I think Bill English would verify that because he grew up the same way. MARLA: In Wiseman? HANNAH: Yeah. And I grew up with Old-Timers and -- and us, and Athabascan. Eskimos, Athabaskans, and White people. But we never called them White people, we called them Old-Timers. MARLA: Okay. HANNAH: Because they were a lot of them from the Old Country. Spoke broken English and stuff like that. MARLA: Right. HANNAH: And we, I think Rosie and I, my younger sister and I, growing up around them, we kind of talked that way for a long time. We would say, you bet yer life. You know. And let's see, which other one. Yumpin' yimminy, you bet you. MARLA: So then was it -- so having this -- having a mixed village, was it -- did you have any language issues with anybody? Like was anybody -- was everyone -- was everyone speaking English or -- HANNAH: I speak Eskimo. MARLA: Okay. And Athabascan? HANNAH: I understand Athabascan, use only a few words. That was not a problem with me there. But I have a problem with English. You know, I had a hard time even in training English. But see, I read and write. So I understand everything I read. So I think that's what got me through a health aide because whenever they are talking, giving a lecture, I understood what they were saying. I guess that comes from growing up in two different cultures. MARLA: Yeah. And did -- HANNAH: And so that pulled me through health aide more than anything. Not knowing how to spell things was a problem, you know -- MARLA: Right. HANNAH: -- for me. MARLA: Like Latin. HANNAH: Yeah. MARLA: Especially medical phrases, I would imagine, medical terms. HANNAH: And so medical terms was a problem for me. I didn't use them. I just used plain English. And a lot of times when I'm describing medicine, I spell it to the doctor, what's on the boxes. MARLA: Was it ever difficult talking with doctors because you felt like there was a little bit of -- HANNAH: No, they understood us. MARLA: Yeah. HANNAH: Yeah. They always said, you are -- what, you are our eyes, ears, and instruments out there. You know. So they knew how to talk to us, the doctors. They know how to understand us. MARLA: And did you find it hard describing sometimes the -- the symptoms that a patient was experiencing or -- HANNAH: I -- I -- I can't say that I had really a hard time with that. They -- the doctors, when you start to describe something, they know how to ask you. They know what -- what to ask because I guess they kind of have a feel or know what you're heading toward or whatever. MARLA: Right. That's pretty important. HANNAH: Yeah. MARLA: And also to feel that trust. HANNAH: Yeah. What do you see. How does it look. What's the -- let's see, is he pale? Is he, you know, sweaty. They -- a lot of things I guess they -- they want to see if we are we're seeing if they are going into shock or if they are that far along in a situation or whatever. So I think the health aides learn to talk to their doctors. They trust the doctors. MARLA: Yeah. HANNAH: I know I do. I trust them, I rely on them, and I just, you know, believe in them, so -- and the nurses and the pharmacies. Marla was one of my favorite. Let me talk to Marla. Because you know, she always -- she takes time. MARLA: Not me Marla. HANNAH: You do, too. She -- she always took time with the health aides. I think she understood our situation. MARLA: Yeah. HANNAH: Our problem. MARLA: Yeah. HANNAH: Our not knowing -- not knowing a lot of stuff. MARLA: And so I think -- HANNAH: I think my -- I think my big thing, my holdback a lot is I'm not a professional. I'm not a doctor or a nurse or a technician, I'm not those. I can't be in that, you know. So you have to separate yourself from that and listen to -- to them. MARLA: Right. HANNAH: Uh-hum. MARLA: But you are their instrument. HANNAH: Yeah. Uh-hum. The health aides are. MARLA: Yeah. HANNAH: Uh-hum. MARLA: And without having all the training you're doing -- HANNAH: Uh-hum. MARLA: -- all the -- HANNAH: Yeah. MARLA: -- all the work necessary to save people. HANNAH: Yeah. Yeah. I guess we can say that we -- don't expect that from us. I mean, let me not expect that from me. MARLA: Right. HANNAH: Just listen and do what -- you know, what you are trained to do. MARLA: Right. I think that's pretty good advice -- HANNAH: Yeah. MARLA: -- for anybody who wants to be a health aide. HANNAH: Yeah. Uh-hum.
MARLA: Do you have any other advice for anybody that might want to be a health aide? HANNAH: Oh, yeah, I would. You know, be a health aide. MARLA: Yeah. HANNAH: And be a good one. And do it because it's rewarding. Very. MARLA: Yeah. HANNAH: And I was thinking -- I lost -- MARLA: We were talking about -- HANNAH: I lost my train of thought. MARLA: We are talking about how supportive people in the family were, and how being a health aide has been really -- you were giving advice to future health aides. HANNAH: Oh, yeah. MARLA: To be a health aide. HANNAH: Yeah. I would. MARLA: Yeah. HANNAH: You know, I would -- well, I think I said already, it's so -- it's so rewarding, I think, to take care of people. MARLA: Yeah. HANNAH: Knowing that -- that you helped somebody. MARLA: And that you're making a difference. HANNAH: Making a difference on health. In every way, in every part of that, you know, like taking care of yourself so you won't get sick, take care of yourself so this won't happen to you. Run a little too much, I guess, but it is very rewarding. When I think back on my -- I always think of Dr. Johnson, how -- how supportive and how he believed so strongly about the program -- well, of course, the program, he started it. MARLA: Yeah. HANNAH: But believing in the people, knowing that they can -- we can take care of -- MARLA: Each other. HANNAH: -- each other, our village, our people. Yeah. MARLA: Well, that's great. HANNAH: Uh-hum. That's what he gave me, you know. I just look at him, I admire him. Yeah. And all our Tanana Chiefs, so much friends -- so many friends. Yeah. MARLA: Well, I think this has been a great interview, and I thank you for your time and talking to me -- HANNAH: Okay. MARLA: -- about your experiences. HANNAH: Uh-hum. MARLA: Thanks a lot, Hannah. HANNAH: Okay.