Why I Work At Ketchikan General Hospital
Karen Middag, RN, Ketchikan General Hospital
I first came to Ketchikan as a traveling nurse in the OB department in June 1996. I had heard about Ketchikan and the Inside Passage from another traveler I was working with in Florida. Her stories about her travels on the ferry and her photos of the totems, eagles and rainforest intrigued me. Prior to then, Texas was as far west as I had been.
Southeast Alaska was totally different from hot, muggy, South Georgia and I was hooked from the first day. The air was cool and moist and had that fresh ocean smell. I spent that first summer living in "the Convent" with a group of traveling nurses that were also working at the hospital and we had a great time. Some of the highlights that I remember from that summer are: hiking Deer Mountain, Silvis, Perseverance, and Connell Lake trails. There was lots of fishing, my first big Coho salmon, flying out to Winstanley Lake in a float plane, and staying in a Forest Service cabin. We flew out to Anan Creek to watch the bears feed when the salmon were running. It was an adventure for me.
Working at KGH was also very enjoyable. The nurses and doctors were great. Everybody was pretty much on a first name basis and seemed to be working toward a common goal, what was best for the patient. I felt like my experience and opinions as a nurse were valued, and respected, and that the patient also had a real say in their care. Everybody at work seemed to truly like each other. It felt like a place you wanted to come back to.
I did come back as a traveler again the following year, and again in 1998. I took a permanent position in OB. My plan at the time was to stay for 2 or 3 years and then go back to Georgia. During that time I met Greg and we were married. Ten years later and I’m still here. In 2002 I transferred from OB to the OR. I still like the people I work with and feel like we do a good job.
We do talk about leaving someday, but then we have a stretch of beautiful, sunny weather in July or August. We load the boat up and take off for 2 or 3 days, catch some crab, or fish, maybe see a whale or two, anchor up in Bailey Bay and hike up to the hot springs, or stay out at one of the remote cabins for a few days.
No, we’re not ready to leave yet.