Movies? There aren't even newspapers.

Oliver and Crissy

Oliver, Crissy, and snapshots of Sand Point, Alaska.

Sand Point main street

Sand Point harbor


A small fishing village in Alaska was not part of Regina Oliver’s (Nu’98,GNu’99) plan when she graduated as a family nurse practitioner from the School of Nursing. But when the job offer came in, she was game. In September, the 44-year-old and her dog, Crissy, headed north to work with another nurse practitioner and three community health aids. A week after her arrival in September, she began writing us about her experiences via e-mail and a hand-written note. — LR

Sept. 16
I live in a small fishing village called Sand Point on Popof Island in the Priboloff island chain. The population is about 890.

The clinic is run by the Eastern Aleutian Tribes, Inc., a native corporation funded by the Indian Health Service.

We do everything — draw labs, spin blood, do X-rays.

We are 911. One [of the community health aides] is also an EMT and covers the ambulance. (He is also the fire chief.)

There are a fair number of accidents here due to the danger inherent in the commercial fishing industry. Of course there are the usual primary care patients as well with allergies, colds, diabetes.

I miss the variety of foods that cities offer. Very little produce here and all meat is frozen. No fish for sale in stores. Breakfast is a stumbling block now. Bucks County Coffee and muffins are just not available.

I am surrounded by mountains and water on all sides. Cerulean blue got its name here. All the colors are purer than I could have imagined. There are sea lions, eagles, lots of fish, magpies, wild fowl. Best of all, no snakes! My dog is very happy with the large quantities of fish guts around to roll in.

Sept. 19
Small town living is different for this city girl. Your life is public whether you are in politics or not. In the city you can have “anonymity” be your middle name. Not here.
I am having a sea kayak arrive on Friday. If I don’t write back I sank.

Letter postmarked Oct. 2
A lady just called me with a broken-off, jagged tooth that has a root canal. Cementing it back is tricky because the tooth is so jagged. Saline rinses, keeping it clean is all she can do until Wednesday when she can go to Anchorage. We have no dentist here.

I watched the plane leave today. A lonely feeling that is. One plane a day — never on time. It makes a couple of island stops on the way if there are passengers. Sometimes it gets all the way here and can’t land because of wind or zero visibility. It turns right around and goes two hours back to Anchorage. Penn Air has no toilets. Reeve Air does. Fly Reeve.

I think I found a solution to the tooth.

Oct. 3
I had my first medevac over the weekend. The patient was stable by the time he got to me but given an extensive cardiac history, it was decided that a plane should be sent for him — $14,000 for that trip. Unfortunately I did not accompany him as there was a full medical flight team on the plane.

Movies? There aren’t even newspapers. Oh wait...there is the Anchorage Sunday paper on Wednesday. The store does rent videos. Yes, I know I can read anything on the ’Net. Well as yet I am too busy reading medical texts at night.

Oct. 7
“Well, Crissy, I guess we are not in Kansas anymore. Can I click my heels and go home now?”

— Regina

Originally published on October 26, 2000