We’ve written a lot of blogs about medical teams that come to visit us from Avera Health System in Sioux Falls, SD, but that’s because they send a team to visit us three times each year! Last week, we had a visit from an Avera team of twelve and it was another wonderful week of hard work, enthusiasm, expertise, fun and fellowship.  The leader of the team, as always, was nurse Kathy English and she did another superb job of organizing the logistics.  She had everyone prepared for his/her tasks, giving the seven nurses on the team assignments to follow throughout the course of each day.  It made things run very smoothly, helping us not only in the clinic but also in the pharmacy and lab as well.

The team consisted of Dr. Gil English, Dr. Scott Peterson, farmer Jamie Voneye, ultrasound technician Joan Eischen, rancher/handyman Jerome Malsom and his wife, nurse Gerri. Other nurses included Stephanie Brandt, Allison Pederson, Sara Romeo, Ashley Walter and Shauni Dietrich.


avera 2019jan


Dr. Gil English had a very productive week as he did Pap smears on new patients and provided follow up for previous patients with abnormal results.  It is such a blessing to us to have his expertise available to our patients.  Rather than just diagnose possible cervical cancer, Dr. English is able to provide definitive treatment to remove abnormal areas and he’s truly saving lives.


consulting with dr e

Dr. Wolf consults with Dr. English regarding one of her patients


Family physician Dr. Scott Peterson was with us again, one of multiple visits for him.  Scott saw patients of all ages, did Pap smears and helped Dr. Wolf do some gastroscopy exams as well.



Dr. Scott looks on as Dr. Wolf performs a gastroscopy.

scott examining

Dr. Scott examines a patient in the clinic.


The clinic was crowded all week because people knew we had visitors to help us out.  Many women came because they wanted to get a Pap smear. In the four days the Avera team was here we saw 398 patients, close to one hundred each day!



The front porch of the clinic was overflowing each day and there were 50-60 more on the benches each afternoon, preparing to spend the night in order to be seen the following day.


We felt especially blessed to have Joan with us, since she was a radiology technician before she became an ultrasound technician.  She did both ultrasounds and x-rays for our patients and we made many very important diagnoses thanks to her expertise.  In addition, she organized the x-ray room, setting up shelves to hold important supplies and arranging the equipment in a way that will be easy for us to use.


joan us2

Joan does an ultrasound on one of our little patients.


The nurses were fantastic, helping to start IV’s and sedate patients for gastroscopies, doing vital signs, assisting the physicians, doing rapid lab tests and helping out in the pharmacy.


stephanie clinic

Stephanie takes vital signs on a patient.

pharmacy helpers

Nurses Ally, Sara, and Kathy help Cherlie and pharmacy tech Marie Vierge in the pharmacy.

shauni feeding baby

Shauni feeds a malnourished, hungry infant.

kathy pharmacy

Kathy helps out by writing receipts in the pharmacy.

geri and stephanie dental

Geri and Stephanie do some dental hygiene teaching for patients waiting to be seen in the clinic.


Jerome kept busy most of the week driving the skid steer (he was the one who found it and arranged for its purchase in the US).  He cut down the ridge along the side of the road leading up to the clinic to prepare it for building a retaining wall along the edge of our property.


jerome rocks

Jerome hauls rocks from the side of the road with the skid steer as Viel helps.

cut road3

Side of the road leading up to the clinic, trimmed back by Jerome with the backhoe.


South Dakota farmer Jamie came down with the team to determine the potential for some future agricultural programs. We were thrilled to have Jamie with us and he helped out in many ways throughout the week.  Jamie helped Jerome with the skid steer, organized the tools in the workshop, helped fix some equipment and even helped to count meds in the pharmacy!  Jamie also planted a couple of “experimental” gardens at the clinic…“experimental” meaning they may or may or may not grow!


3 with garden

Jamie shows Gemi and Cherlie his new garden!


Jamie also went out with some of the nurses to two communities to help with health teaching and blood pressure checks.  Along the way, he learned about Haitian farming from Gemi and the translator and visited with farmers.


road to charlette

The hike to Charlotte involved climbing a steep mountain but the team was up for the challenge!


The community of Charlette welcomed the team warmly, even providing them with breakfast of fresh eggs and milk.  Their local church doubles as the school. The team did some health teaching for children and adults, after which they checked blood pressures, referring those with high readings to the clinic for follow up.


charlette church

Members of Charlotte participate in a hypertension teaching session.

checking bps charlette

Avera nurses check blood pressures for people in Charlette.

ashley and friend

Ashley makes a new friend!

allie and friend

Ally gets a warm embrace!


Jamie had so much fun playing with the children in the schools where the health teaching was being done that a mother put her infant daughter in his arms!  Jamie and his wife have 5 boys so holding a little girl made him all smiles.


jaime girl2

Jamie is loving holding this little girl!


Cherlie went with another group of nurses and Dr. Scott to the village of Labastille to do some health teaching and check blood pressures.


road to labastille

Sara and Cherlie and the team on their way to Labastille.

school labastille

Health teaching in Labastille school.


One of the highlights of this visit was receiving a gift that was made by some friends of Jerome and Gerri Malsom – a hand-made quilt of the US and Canada with each state identified so that future visitors can pin a button on their home location.  Over the years, we will be able to get an idea of how far our visitors are traveling to come work with us.



Jerome, Dr. Wolf, and Gerri hold up the handmade quilt that was brought down as a gift to us. It is now hanging on a wall in the clinic residence.


Much thanks to the Avera team and their generous friends and supporters!  It was a wonderful week for the clinic, our staff and especially our patients.  Blessings to you!

Posted in