Q. What are the different Roles in the medical department, and what duties does each role entail?
The Medical Department has three main roles: Psychiatry, Health Concerns, and Medications.
Psych: Our Psychiatrist, Dr. Braunstin (also known as Dr. B), conducts intake assessments with each student to check on how their medications are doing. He then communicates any recommended medication changes with me so that I can inform the parents of the recommendation.
Health Concerns: The Medical Coordinator (that's me!) keeps track of any medical concerns communicated to us from the field and checks on the students every other week to see how they are doing. I communicate with students' parents when issues arise, and after consulting with the rest of the team, instruct field staff on how to best care for the students.
Medications: There are a lot of medications to keep track of! We have a close relationship with the local pharmacy who packs students’ medications for us each week. On Tuesdays, I organize all of the bubble packs by group and send them out to the field.
Q. Who/which departments does medical work with the most frequently, and why?
The medical department is unique in that we work with everyone at Blue Ridge. Most frequently, we work with the transportation team. Without them, we couldn’t do our job. They pick up new prescriptions at the pharmacy, take students to the doctor, bring students their medical needs, ect.
Field Instructors communicate with us at least twice daily regarding any medical concerns or questions that arise, so we collaborate with them frequently as well.
Q. How does Blue Ridge ensure that students are healthy and safe in the field?
We have several systems in place to ensure that students are healthy and safe in the field. We do health checks with each group every other week, and ask the students a series of questions to see how they are doing. Once a month, we bring a Physician's assistant to the field for a more in-depth health check. We track all of the medical concerns at base and update parents when things are going on.
On top of that, all of our staff are First Aid or Wilderness First Responder certified, and provide first aid to the students twice a day at minimum. They carry a First Aid kit in the field with anything a student might need for injuries or sickness.
Q. Could you share about our Medical Director and his role?
Dr. Dowis, our Medical Director, has a diverse and important role at Blue Ridge. He reviews students' cases before entering the program to see if they are a good fit medically. Once the students are enrolled, he prescribes medications and answers any questions the Medical Coordinator has regarding health concerns. He is ALWAYS available for questions we may have about anything medical going on in the field.
Q. Can you speak a bit to the safety/health related training our staff receive?
The staff receive in-depth and continuous training while at Blue Ridge. Before they are even allowed to work, staff must be CPR and first aid certified. At least one staff in each group will have a Wilderness First Responder certification and some even have Wilderness EMT certifications. We have several tests staff take throughout their time at work to ensure they know how to properly administer medications and feel comfortable doing so. We also have training throughout the year to keep staff up to date on the latest medical protocols and seasonal medical concerns that might arise in the field.