Thursday, 2 July 2015

Starting in Upernavik

I arrived on Tuesday afternoon to be greeted by my host with the ambulance to transport me and my luggage to my house. It turns out that there was the Health visitor on my flight too.

The flight was pleasant enough and only took an hour, it left late which seems to be standard for Air Greenland, but there is no pressure on departure slots so the plane takes off when it is ready. I managed to get a window seat this time so got a good view of the icecap. Due to the late departure and there being a choir on the plane we were treated to an impromptu performance in the departure lounge in Ilulissat airport (it's also the arrivals lounge and waiting room).  As Air Greenland operate in the Arctic, the rules for the aircraft are different to the rest of the world: as well as life jackets the plane carries cold weather suits in case of ditching onto land. These are all illustrated on the emergency card next to how to exit the plane in an emergency.

After getting to my hose for my stay and having a shower and doing some shopping, I was over to my host's house for dinner which was expertly cooked by her husband who is a chef by trade. It wasn't very Greenlandic, but was most welcome after living on airport hotdogs for 2 days. We had Greenlandic sushi (strips of raw fish with lime juice) and barbequed tenderloin of beef. I'm hoping someone will show me how to cook the local dishes during my stay.

My first day at hospital started at 8am the next morning with a hand over in Danish that was translated by one of the staff and then a tour of the hospital. It is reasonably compact with about 14 beds. There are plenty of staff, but they are trying to recruit another doctor at the moment.

The patients are a mixture of specialities, but surgical patients are taken to the main hospital in Nuuk as there isn't an anaesthetist here.

Sleeping here isn't that easy due to the 24hours of sunlight, but the trick I was taught was to tape cooking foil to the windows as a black out. I got a much better night's sleep after trying this.

Today I've been seeing a few patients with one of the nurses, these were minor complaints that a GP in England would normally see. One of the patients came in wearing a Liverpool FC hoodie, so after a little sign language he realised that I'm from Liverpool (I'm guessing the first to ever visit Upernavik) and got a picture with me before he left the consultation.

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