Beverly Hugo was interviewed on March 15, 2005 by Karen Brewster at the Bertha Moses Patient Hostel in Fairbanks, Alaska when she was visiting from her home in Barrow, Alaska. In this first part of a three part interview, Beverly talks about becoming a health aide, her training and education, and communication with doctors. She also talks about handling rescues, terminal patients, and suicides, getting through the difficult times, and coping with death.
Digital Asset Information
Project: Community Health Aide Program Project Jukebox
Date of Interview: Mar 15, 2005
Narrator(s): Beverly Hugo
Interviewer(s): Karen Brewster
Transcriber: Carol McCue
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Background information and becoming a health aide.
Communication systems used between health aides and doctors.
The beginning of the Anaktuvuk Pass Clinic and becoming a health aide.
Rescues and helping people when they needed it.
Combining the lengthy Health Aide training and her family responsibilities.
Dealing with death.
Working with doctors and differences in diagnoses.
Taking care of terminal patients in the village and dealing with suicide in villages.
Counseling training she received while she was a health aide.
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After clicking play, click a section of the transcript to navigate the audio or video clip.
KAREN: Today is March 15th, 2005, and this is Karen Brewster, here with Beverly Hugo. And we're in Fairbanks, although Beverly is from Barrow. And this is for the Community Health Aide Project. Beverly, thank you for agreeing to participate. BEVERLY: Thank you. I was born in Fairbanks. I'm the daughter of Charlie and Mary Edwardsen. And I -- there was 11 siblings. I was born in Fairbanks but raised in Barrow. KAREN: And when were you born? BEVERLY: 1953. Along the Chena River. And -- and I was raised in Barrow, and then I went to boarding school in Mount Edgecumbe when I was 16. And -- and that's where I met my future husband. My present husband, Patrick Hugo, of Anaktuvuk Pass. We got married in '73. And I moved to his village, Anaktuvuk Pass, in 1973. And then the following year, we had our oldest boy, Jeffrey (Native name) Hugo, and he was a pretty healthy boy, you know. And it wasn't until he got sick, maybe he was about almost two years old, this is when I find out that what do these people do when they are sick in Anaktuvuk Pass. There was no electricity, there was a small 207 and a mail run once a week, and no phones, no -- pretty much, really, you know, Third World. There was no running water. There was no electricity. There was no phones. That's when I -- when my boy got sick, I took it upon myself in order to be a good mother, and I had planned, you know, my intentions are to do mothering well, and then we have to find answers of how you can keep your child healthy and, you know, try and be a good mother. You know. In Barrow, when you live in Barrow, you go to the hospital when you're sick. But when you're sick out in Anaktuvuk Pass, I found out that, you know, they -- there wasn't much. And so I had to just recall what my mother would do when we were sick, you know. I had a thermometer, check his temperature, and he had a fever and we would give him Bayer Aspirin, then. And then -- but I had to make a decision then that in order to be a good mom, I have to find, you know, ways to keep my child healthy. So this was in June of '76, I became the alternate health aide. And I was hired June of '76, then I went to training July of '76, and every 200 hours after field work, I went to training. My supervisor was Sonia Levitt from Barrow. And she was an excellent supervisor. She got me through training quite -- you know, I think I had Session 1, 2 and 3, like, within 18 months. KAREN: Wow. BEVERLY: And this is when I -- when I first got back from training, they gave me a black leather bag. It had a blood pressure cuff, otoscope, and tongue blades, and thermometers, and a hemoglobinometer, and a reflex hammer. Those were pretty much our basic tools and that's what I had to work with. But I found out that, you know, that's one thing, but there was no means of communication. So I had to try to find a way of communicating. So at that time, the state operated -- the school was operated by the State of Alaska, and they had a ham radio in the school, and that's when I started to use it. And took to -- you know, when somebody became ill or there was an accident, I would go and crank up that ham radio. It was kind of like hand powered, you know, but that's all we had. So it used to work out. And many times different people from all over the world would, you know, come to our -- they would contact Tanana Hospital. That's where we went, then. Anaktuvuk Pass folks went to Tanana Hospital, you know, since '76 through, I believe, 1980, we would go to Tanana Hospital for our care.
BEVERLY: And then somewhere between -- after that time, between '76 and '80, they put in a satellite phone. And it was still located in the old school where the ham radio was. And it was a phone that we would have medical traffic. Allakaket, Anaktuvuk, and 17 other villages would have medical traffic at one o'clock every day. The doctor in Tanana would call in. And at that time, we had Dr. James, William James. He's been a fixture in the Interior care for many, many years. I think over 30 some years. And he was there. And -- and there was, you know, Dr. Elterman came on later. And then there was Dr. Brown, Dr. George Brown. And it just kind of, you know, every two years, but those two, Dr. -- Dr. James and Dr. Elterman were the mainstay. They've just kind of been with the Interior Region for a long time. And they were always very helpful, you know, on the other end. We would get our supplies from Tanana, monthly supplies. Nothing really fancy, but just real basic dressings and just supplies that we need, mainly dressings for wound care or Kerlix wraps or -- and tongue blades, you know, things that we need for providing basic emergency care. And I think initially, in my first training, it was four weeks in Anchorage. My Session 1 was four weeks in Anchorage at the Alaska area CHAP program. And at that time, Rob Burgess was one of the doctors there, and Dr. Whitaker. I think Dr. Whitaker was the one that made the first Community Health Aide manual. It was kind of a pastel yellow and government issue. The binding was poor. It broke often so I'd have to tape them all up, you know. And there was, you know -- but that's what we had to work with, you know. And I had Session 2 after I did 200 field hours, 200 hours of field work, and then I went to Session 2. After that I went to another 200 hours, but each time I would find ways of trying to have a -- a mode of communication and I always try to find a place where it won't freeze up. And many times, you know, everything in the school, in the old state school, it would freeze up. KAREN: Oh. BEVERLY: So any time there was a freeze-up, some of the medications would be, you know, frozen. And that was the real hard part is -- so I wrote a letter to our North Slope Borough mayor, Eben Hopson, and told him that we really need a clinic in Anaktuvuk because we're just kind of -- you know, space or lease of space was not available. So many times I just saw patients in my 12-by-16 cabin, you know. It was my multipurpose place. And real humble beginnings, but it was all we had to work with then, you know. And often I would see my patients at my home and -- or I would go to their home, carrying my black bag, and my note paper and just do the best evaluation I can do and history, and then I would call the doctors. It depends, you know, sometimes it can wait for regular medical traffic or if the -- the Community Health Aide manual says to do it, I mean, many times I'd just look and see and, you know, it was always very informative and really easy to follow. So many times I just followed that type of care. And then if there's urgent or emergency, I often would try to call on the ham radio or -- and then I think it was in '78 we finally got one phone that was in the store. Nunamiut store. Satellite phone. It had a lot of -- you know, a lot of, what do you call it, excess sounds. KAREN: Static? BEVERLY: Static and -- but, you know, that is all we had then. So I had the key to the store, you know. If there was some urgent care business, you know, if there was an emergency. And I recall October 21, I was called in really late, and there was a young lady that was in labor and I was -- you know, I evaluated her. Still no electricity there. We'd have a Coleman lantern, somebody's holding a Coleman lantern and I'm trying to evaluate the status of this very pregnant young lady, very young. And -- and after I took all her vital signs and took her history, she's like about maybe four weeks early, according to the records, you know, and after that, I went to go call on our one phone, and here I'm talking to Dr. James, I believe, in Tanana, and -- and then the mother comes into the store and says the baby's coming. KAREN: Uh-oh. BEVERLY: So I had to hang up. But, you know, prior to that, I had already set up for as -- as much of a sterile technique. I had already sterilized all the -- the scissors, the tools that I'll be using, the nose -- the thing, the little -- the bulb you use to clean the nose and the mouth, I had already sterilized them. And I had clean towels and, you know, everything was just ready in case I had to, you know. Anyway, the baby did come and it came right quick, and you know, we were really fortunate that everything went well. And now she's a beautiful young lady. And -- and at that time, there was no electricity, so Dr. James was sending a plane, a small plane to pick up the lady because, you know, we didn't have a scale to measure the baby. It was awfully small. I thought it was like maybe -- you know, it was born a little bit early. And so we had hot water bottles around the baby and trying to keep it warm. And -- and it was really cold that day. Cold and dark, and so I had to -- my husband Patrick got a couple of guys turn on kerosene lanterns and along the runway, and a couple of snow machines with lights, headlights, facing towards the south for the plane to land. And that time, the plane did land and take the mother and the baby to Tanana. And they were apparently fine. I think she was, like, almost six pounds, and it was -- it turned out good, you know. That's one -- KAREN: Was that the first baby you delivered? BEVERLY: Yes. That's the first baby I delivered, October 21, 1978. Yeah. She was just a beautiful young lady. She is now, you know. KAREN: Yeah.
BEVERLY: Anyway, I did write to our mayor, Eben Hopson, and you know, he -- they were building a new triplex in Anaktuvuk Pass. They were going to be using it for teacher housing, or a four-plex, I believe. And -- and I asked him, you know, we really need a clinic, you know. And can you have us have one of the apartments for a clinic. And, you know, ask and ye shall receive, you know. And Eben Hopson let us have the -- one of the apartments in the -- in the Borough housing unit as a clinic, so it was really a great, great improvement, you know. There was running water, of course it's potable water, but there was running water for -- for, you know, some wounds have to be cleaned real thoroughly, and many times it was very hard to, you know, do it when you have no running water. And -- and then before long, I believe in 1980, they -- they put in a phone in the clinic, or they moved the satellite phone to the clinic, so it was the -- we called it the sat -- the black phone. We had our black bags and our black phone. And for, you know, talking with the doctors. And so, you know, I think we were coming along and as -- as I got the facility, I started to order equipment, you know. Because we have space now. So I ordered everything I could possibly get, you know, like a couple of exam tables and -- and, you know, they were government issue, but they were still good. And we -- we just, you know, progressed right along and we got medicine cabinets and -- and just -- and supplies that we need to have in a clinic. And -- and you know, it just was -- I loved doing -- oh. I was going to share that when I first got hired, you know, my pay was 5.06 an hour. And, you know, I didn't really do it for money, it was just somebody had to do it. And I just felt compelled to -- to take that role, you know. And I believe I was always one of those growing up, you know, in my large family of 12, I'm always taking on the nurturing role of when somebody's sick or somebody's hurt. I just had this, you know, knack or common sense or probably both, but I would try to make my brothers or my sisters comfortable. And one time we were at Tachim Isua camping, summer camp. Tagiuqtikuagut (phonetic) in Tachim Isua, and somehow one of my sisters cut her hand on the chain saw. And she just went a little bit, you know... She was bleeding all over, and I finally had to grab her, and here I'm trying to wrap her hand with a towel and, you know, she was still going... Finally, I just slapped her on her face and, you know, I think that shock must have -- you know, she -- she was able to get back to her senses and we were able to, you know, dress her hand and elevate it and until my parents or my father came back from hunting and we had to bring her back -- bring her back to Barrow. And we did it by skin boat, you know. Umiaqpiak. And she -- she did okay, you know. Her hand, she never lost use of her hand or anything. But just, you know... And then watching our mother as she cared for us, you know, that she was my foremost educator. My mother Mary Nusunginya Edwardsen, and she just was a good mother and very nuturing and always making sure she meets our needs. And if we're sick, she -- and all of those memories of what she used to do when we had stomachaches or when we had cuts or when we had a fever, you know. Those kind of things were what I drew from. And the other thing is that her faith in God, I grew up blessed with a mother that, you know, when all else fails, you pray. You know. When there's nothing else you can do, and many times it was just with a prayer that when you've done all you can for -- for the individual, you give it to the Lord and help always comes, you know. And I've never -- I've never -- you know, it don't hurt to pray. So I always try to pray and try to make my patients comfortable. And -- and we've had some pretty very scary times of trying to bring people here or to Tanana. And to try to rescue hikers that often would go to the Gates of the Arctic and Park Service and their choppers and the North Slope Borough and their choppers would often be coming to the aid.
BEVERLY: It -- it gets pretty scary sometimes, you know. We were doing a rescue one time out in Chandler Lakes, some -- somebody was -- some hikers had -- were -- there was an S.O.S. on the ground, and they picked me up and then they were going to go check them out, you know. The weather was really bad. A lot of wind and, you know, that's when I -- I got a little bit -- Chandler Lake has lots of rugged mountains, and we were so close to them that I felt like we're going to hit the mountains or something, you know. And then I said, that's not good, you know. I'm not going to jump on every -- every situation, you know, after we had that near miss of getting -- crashing with the chopper. And I -- I decided that it's best if you bring them to me. You know, bring them to me. And then another time was we had a young lady that was a hiking in the Gates, she was from West Lafayette, Indiana, and she was a diabetic. And she had -- you know, hadn't taken her insulin, and hadn't eaten, and she got herself in a bad, bad situation, you know, where she was -- she was alone, too. Camping out in the Gates of Arctic alone is -- if you're a diabetic, or even if you're just normal, you should always have a partner to... But apparently, this young lady had gotten quite ill, and the Park Service people were a little bit afraid because she was a young woman, you know. And so they went and got me. I remember we had this small, little clear bubble chopper, can maneuver every place, and then here they brought me to the lady's campsite. And as I, you know, went in, I tried to talk to her. She was semiconscious, you know. And she had a real bad acid breath, you know. You kind of have to learn these observation skills and acetone breath, she had that acetone breath. And I said, I wonder if she's diabetic, you know. So I went through her backpack. Sure enough, there was insulin and syringes and -- and then I -- I told the park rangers, we need to get her to Anaktuvuk to our clinic and we'll try to stabilize her. And then I had to set up a -- some IV's because she was -- her tongue was so dry that, you know, it had swelled. And like she needed fluids bad. So I was able to put some IVs, lactated ringers on, I believe, both arms, and -- and the doctor that I called -- and this is the dilemma I have sometimes with non-bens, you know, non-beneficiaries that are not Indian Health Service, but you know, if they needed help, I -- race or anything was no factor, whether non-ben, I just served them, you know. And then the doctor that I talked with said that, well, he can't order a charter, it's a non-ben, you know. How are they going to pay for that, you know. Well, you know, I don't -- I don't want to hear that. This lady needs help, you know. And the chopper is not big enough to -- you know, didn't have enough fuel supply to fly all the way to Anaktuvuk to -- to Fairbanks, and that was in 1980, I believe. And Dr. Buntz, Michael Buntz, was one of our docs here. Anyway, I told him, I've already prayed, and I think help's on the way. I don't know what form, but lo and behold, Nenana Fuel Company comes in with their DC-3. KAREN: Wow. BEVERLY: So I said, well, I'm going to do a -- commandeer the Nenana Fuel Company and ask them to bring -- bring -- I need to bring this lady in to Fairbanks. So after they unloaded their fuel, we loaded this young lady up into the plane and -- and I had, I believe, my one-year-old baby on my back. And many times I had my children, and I had to carry my baby because I breast fed all my babies. So on the medevac, I brought this lady in. And she was admitted and she was in diabetic acidosis, you know. And she could have been in a coma and -- but I happened to come to her aid, you know. And I believe she went back and I think she was a Purdue University student, a veterinary student, and I went to her aid, you know. Just -- these are just some of the things that -- that we do. And it's just, you know, nothing to brag about, it's just things you had to do in order to try to help somebody.
KAREN: When you went to Anchorage for those long trainings -- BEVERLY: Uh-hum (affirmative). KAREN: -- how did you coordinate that with your kids and your family? BEVERLY: Oh. My oldest boy, you know, he was -- my oldest boy was our baby for five years, so I just had one child. And whenever I was going to training, my son would go to my parents' in Barrow and they would watch him. And -- and then after I would get back from Anchorage, I'd pick him up and we would go -- go home. He got to know my parents and his many aunts and uncles there. And as he got older, though, he was able to stay with his dad. But Jeff was our baby for five years. And he always went to my parents' for -- when I was in training. So I would have these four-week trainings, Session 1, 2, and 3, four weeks. They had hospital quarters, they were comfortable, you know. And 8:00 to 5:00 we would work with the docs and a lot of book stuff. You know, even though I did that, I felt -- I was always craving for what more, you know. Or from my own experience, I've had -- found ways of, you know, every time I had an emergency, I would do a debrief, you know. I mean, I would -- what could have gone better, you know. What supplies did I lack. And one of the things I always had was a little cheat sheet that I had that I would write, you know, like for my -- I made myself a special OB bag, whenever there's going to be a village delivery, you know, you never know. And I just made this bag available with all the things I needed. And it just was handy if I needed it. And during the seven years I was health aide, I delivered seven babies out there, out in Anaktuvuk. And another one I delivered on a 207 as we were touched -- touched down Fairbanks International. Thank God it was in the, you know, early fall where it was not so cold, and first week of September, I think. And everything went well. But you know, she was born on the plane. I delivered -- and it was a small baby, you know. No complications. The mother just was due. And you know, it didn't wait for -- to reach the hospital. And she was born on the 207 and I had my OB bag ready, everything was there. And she -- she did good. The mother and her. They -- they did good. Yeah. Lots of stories of some of the things that go on out in the -- in the villages. KAREN: Do you remember your first emergency call? BEVERLY: Yeah. I think it was that young lady that was due to have a baby and -- but it's a good thing that I had had a baby myself, you know. And I had my son June 19 of '74, so I had -- you know, I had birthed, and I know how birthing goes. So that was one of the things, even though I had the books, you know, but there's nothing like real true experience. So I knew what to expect and what they look for when -- when I had my baby. So, you know, that was my first emergency. But after that, like I say, I always try to find ways of having these little kits throughout my clinic, you know. There's burn kit. If somebody's burned, I had a burn kit bag. And then if there was a wound or bleeding or a big cut, or if there's -- somebody broke a leg or an arm or, you know, we -- we would try to have these things available. And the thing about this was my husband was always very supportive. Day in, day out, 365 days of the year, he was there. I mean, he was there. And it's so important for part -- husbands or significant other to be supportive, you know, otherwise we wouldn't be able to do these -- these -- these jobs, you know, as providing care. In emergencies or sickness or death, you know, they -- they don't wait. They happen. It's just a fact of life. There is life, there is birthing, there is death, and that's just how it's been from time immemorial.
BEVERLY: I remember when I had my first encounter with death, you know. I was a little bit afraid. And, you know, it's -- it's scary. And -- but, you know, apparently an elderly gentleman had collapsed and -- and I did try. You know, he must have collapsed some -- it had been some time before somebody found him. I did do CPR and -- and, you know, it was not -- he was already gone, you know. But I -- you know, we do try. And so that was quite, you know... Well, we -- and then I -- the other encounter I had was a SIDs death. A small, beautiful baby girl that had apparently had Sudden Infant Death during the night. And those are, you know, hard, especially babies, you know. The elderly gentleman that had lived a full life, a good life, and, you know, he had done his job. He raised all his children. But this baby was like -- many times I wondered, you know, why, or, you know, what could -- what could I have done, you know, many times there was these thoughts. And this baby. And then, you know, the police had to come in and the public safety from Barrow came in a small plane and -- and then, you know, I was to release the body to the policeman, and this policeman came in. And he was carrying a big diaper box. And I said, excuse me? What are you doing with a diaper box? And then he says, oh, I'm going to put the baby in. Oh. That don't -- that didn't go well with me. You know. I said, sir, I will not release the body if you're going to put it in that box. You have to respect this infant's family. Would you like to put your dead baby in a diaper box? Oh, you know. He was just kind of -- I said, if you have a body bag, we'll fold it in half and, you know, I'll release the body, but if you're going to put it in a diaper box, I am not releasing the body. I was -- many times I've had to stand my ground to what I believe is cross-cultural care or, you know, just being respectful of another life that may have passed on, you know. And then the officer, you know, he did get a body bag and we fold it in half and we put the baby in there, and then I was able to. But you know, there are times when some doctors that often are temporary duty, they don't always know where we're coming from, and many times I've had to just be adamant and maybe downright aggressive, you know, or even stand my ground because, you know, you know these people that you live with in the community, you know how they do things and you know how they live, you know, and you -- you get a -- you can get an idea, you know.
BEVERLY: I had just had my daughter in Barrow on June 21 of '79, and I knew if I went home to Anaktuvuk, I would -- I would work. So I decided to spend my six weeks in Barrow. And after my six weeks was up, I went home. And apparently there was a young mother that had had a baby that was 10 days before I did. She had had this baby June 10th. And when I came in, I was already gone six weeks, but this baby was 10 days, you know, that is like 7 and a half weeks. I saw this baby and I said, this is -- something's really wrong. You know, this baby is supposed to be bigger than my baby. But this baby was very malnourished and you could see his rib cage and he's using all his energy and -- just to breathe, you know. And then I said, what the heck, you know. What's going on. And then the alternate health aides had been calling the doctors about constipation or the baby seemed to be constipated all the time. And there was, like, how many encounters, you know. And then I was reviewing my mail and then -- anyway, I said to the doctor that -- the doctor on call that this baby is -- has Kussmaul breathing. It's breathing with all it's got, you know, like on a very labored. I said, I'm bringing this baby in. And then this doctor said, oh, it sounds like child abuse. Child neglect. You know. And then I said, no. This family is a good family. I don't think they would do that. You know. I just said that, but I said -- he kind of, you know, made some kind of comment about, well, just as well, maybe that child is better dead than alive. You know, he has the audacity to say that. And then I said, you know, you have no authority to say that. You're not God. You know, I'm bringing the baby in, I don't care what you do. You know, this child needs immediate attention. Well, I'm going to give it all I got, I'm bringing the baby in. And that was my final. KAREN: Final answer. BEVERLY: Yeah. And I brought the baby in. This doctor didn't want to see me, but I said I don't care. You know. This family's not abusive, this is a nurturing couple, and they -- I don't think, would starve the baby. Anyway, as I was -- I brought the baby in, and, of course, you know, they had brought the children youth services people in. And then -- and then I happened to carry the mail, you know, that I didn't have time to read because this baby needed a lot of -- so I was opening my mail, and then here it was about this infant, you know. The discharge papers, you know. It said, probable bowel obstruction, question mark. You know. And this is the same baby. And then I said -- and then I quickly brought that paper over to the doctor, and I said, this is -- you know, if anybody has done a miscarriage, it's you folks. You've -- you've sent a baby home that had a questionable bowel obstruction. And, you know, to assume that, you know, they had neglected this baby is not right. You -- you need to rescind these DFYS people that are social workers that come to -- you know, because sure enough, this -- this infant had Hirschsprung disease, you know. KAREN: Which is what? BEVERLY: It's -- some of the villi in the intestines, a certain area, didn't have -- it wasn't functioning. It was like it had no nerves. So the bowel, you know, as -- those villi are just like little things that move the -- the food or whatever along the intestines, you know, and there's a certain section where he had this disease called Hirschsprung's Disease. And this baby was not -- he had -- he did eventually have a bowel obstruction. KAREN: So then nothing was moving in that area? BEVERLY: Nothing was moving, yeah. And this young man, he's now a young man, you know. He's a father. And -- but you know, it's just these things that, you know, even though this doctor thought -- you know, I had to do that. And I don't ever regret doing it. He tried to call me an insubordinate, you know. Yeah, insubordinate to God, yeah. But, you know, I mean, I couldn't do that, you know. I mean, act like I'm God and you have -- you know, you pass judgment whether this person should live or die, you know. And he was just wanting -- it's just as well this child dies, you know. That's not right. You know. So this baby had to spend a lot of -- maybe most of his first year in life in the hospital because of having to have a colonoscopy. I mean, you know, colostomy. Had to have a little bag until he healed over and they reconnected his bowel eventually. But he's now a young man, he's graduated, and he's 10 days older than my daughter, you know. So, you know, these are small victories, but these are things that I wouldn't do any differently because I believe we have to -- each individual that's born should have the best opportunity to reach their potential, and I think that's what I always strive to do.
BEVERLY: And I've also taken care of cancer patients and people go and die at home among familiar surroundings and family. I'm for that because many times our elders often die very alone in hospitals with unfamiliar people and unfamiliar surroundings. And when death is -- you know, should be very -- we should be at peace, and that's one of the things that I've always believed in. And that's what I saw among my people is that they've always -- death came when you've done all you -- you're supposed to do, and you've completed your work. And many of these elders that were brought in when they die alone, it's -- it's like it didn't have to be that way. So I always tried to accommodate our elders and make sure that they have -- and I always tried to convey to the doctors that this is the writing in -- in their charts that they want to be at home, if it's terminal or if it's -- you know. And I've had the honor of taking care of several people like that. And they just were -- and their families were wonderful, you know. They just cared for -- for their loved one. And I just was there to oversee and monitor and -- and there was one gentleman that was just apologetic until he died, you know. Always apologizing. And I said, you don't need to apologize, you know. This is my job and I'm here to help you and make you comfortable. And this gentleman, he was fairly young, he was only 38. People shouldn't die of cancer at 38, you know. And he just was such a nice, easy going person that just had a lovely personality. And he wanted to die among his mountains, among his people, his family. And he was such a delightful person to care for, you know. And the neatest thing about it is that he didn't want nothing fancy. He didn't want no chapel of chimes coffin -- or casket or -- he wanted a homemade casket. He wanted everything homemade. He said, this is his favorite blanket and his favorite shirt. These are, you know, some of the things he wants to wear when he -- when he goes. And his family was very good. And, you know, to assist somebody like that, to make them comfortable, was such a -- it was an honor for me that, you know, we were able to do that. And just, you know, those kind of things that are issues of -- of the heart, you know. And many times when there was tragedy or -- it was with prayer because I pray that we're able to go through tough times, you know. And especially in suicide cases, where some of our young people just find it unbearable to live. And they choose to take their lives, you know. Those are the -- the hardest ones that I've had to deal with. But it's through prayer and my faith in God that we are able to -- that's the saddest part of my job, you know, was seeing someone take their life. And it's -- you know, and he had just a bad choice for a temporary problem, you know. And we need to convey to our youth that, you know, don't -- don't bottle yourself up or if there's something that happens to you or your boyfriend or your wife or your husband, they have left you but that doesn't mean you have to end your life, you know. Because these are -- that's a temporary solution -- you know, for a temporary problem, this permanent solution. That's not it, you know. Suicide is -- and we need to convey to our youth and to our community members that this is not acceptable. This is -- we need to tell them that because it touches the way -- I mean, suicide is -- it touches the whole community. It can immobilize them and get them in deep despair, and a sense of hopelessness, you know. And when there is hope, when there is life, when there is, you know, there will be a better tomorrow. You know. And we need to reassure our youth or make sure they have outlets to talk to somebody. And many times as a health aide, I did that, you know. You know, this, too, will pass. And I -- even though they may be devastated, you know, and you just need to. And with prayer. Without prayer, you know, I wouldn't be able to counsel or console some of these people that are in deep depression or -- or many alcohol related. Often these were alcohol related. And that alcohol is not the answer for -- if you're in depression or if you feel that's -- that's no alternative. And we need to pass on better coping skills, you know, that their lives or each individual's life is worthy. And they are young, you know, they have a whole life ahead of them.
KAREN: So did you receive some training in counseling as part of your health aide training sessions? BEVERLY: Yes, I did. I had the honor of having that special workshop with (Elisabeth) Kubler Ross on grief, and, you know, death and grief. That sure was very insightful, you know. That was money well spent in the health aide program when they brought in this lady that talked about death and dying and grief. Although, you know, I had seen in my lifetime growing up how our people dealt with grief and we were always told not to be too -- to have favorites, you know. That was shunned, you know, because you have to try to love your children -- they say not too much. I guess, you know, there was some merit to that because many years ago, infantile deaths were so, you know, prevalent where children, infant mortality was very high. And they always kind of told them that they shouldn't love their kids too much, otherwise they had this belief that if you loved somebody too much, if they die or -- they may just take you with you, you know, because you're so full of grief. And that's one of the things that I had, you know, understood from -- from my people, you know. And to love them not too much, you know. You can love, but not to the extreme to where some people, you know, when they lost a child -- I had one young lady that lost her child and she was so grief stricken that she just lost hope and she died, you know. Young mother. There is -- there's this beliefs that we have that -- that are in our culture. And I saw them being lived, you know. And it's -- I mean, what time I had as a health aide was, you know, it was -- I loved it, you know. I enjoyed it. And -- and then I -- I did that for seven and a half years. And then I decided to go to PA school. Well, I had a doctor that -- ER doctor, emergency room doctor. After Tanana Chiefs moved to Fairbanks in 1980, so they closed down the Tanana Hospital at that time. So from that time forth, we went to FMH, Fairbanks Memorial Hospital, for our urgent or emergency care patients were received there. And then they have Chief Andrew Isaac Health Clinic on the other side adjacent to the hospital. I thought that was a very, very good move, you know, to where if somebody has acute abdomen or urgent caesarean, that it can be readily done. And there were more flights to Fairbanks, you know, regular airlines, so I think that worked in our favor to where we got even better care. And we have specialists here in this community and they were contracted out, and Tanana Chiefs were always very good in serving their people well. Even though they never had big oil wealth money like the North Slope, they've done well. And what they've also done is they have -- they believe in their people, their own indigenous people, where they have filled in the roles of nurses, doctors, dentists, and a lot of -- it's -- most of it's staffed by Athabascan or Native people. KAREN: That's at Chief Andrew Isaac's? BEVERLY: Chief Andrew Isaac, yeah. And that's -- that's very good, you know. And I -- I believe that they've done well.