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Volunteering at Pine Ridge

Trip DatesTrip FocusRoles NeededSign-up Deadline
July 16-21, 2017 Health for the Generations Camp held in La Crosse

Camp led by students and faculty from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, Wisconsin Academy for Rural Medicine, and Scenic Rivers AHEC

July 16-21, 2017

Wanblee Clinic partnerships

Physicals for the Oglala Sioux Tribe Dept. of Justice staff

Family Medicine or Internal Medicine providers

Nurses, MAs, and/or CNAs

April 7, 2017
Sept. 10-15, 2017 Youth Physicals in schools and Head Starts

Pediatric providers and nurses to conduct youth physicals

May 1, 2017
Oct. 15-20

Women's Health and Family Medicine Clinic

Health Fair (led by School District of La Crosse)

Women's Health and Family Medicine providers

Nurses, MAs, and/or CNAs

July 1, 2017
Nov. 5-10, 2017

Men's Health and Family Medicine Clinic

Behavioral Health training (led by Viterbo University Mental Health Counseling program)

Men's Health and Family Medicine providers

Nurses, MAs and/or CNAs

Behavioral health professionals

July 1, 2017

First-time volunteers should plan to attend a cultural orientation prior to their trip.

Each trip also requires participation in 2 pre-trip meetings and one post-trip meeting for debriefing. Due to the community-based nature, in-person attendance is preferred for these meetings. Details about these sessions will be sent out via email to the volunteers signed up for each trip.

Once you are signed up for a trip, you will receive an email ~3 months before your trip with paperwork that you need to complete. All volunteers (medical or non-medical) also need to complete some general forms for Global Partners, such as a waiver of liability. Any medical volunteers providing services at an IHS clinic will need to complete an IHS volunteer packet and also get fingerprints. Providers (MD, DO, NP, PA) need to get credentialed through IHS, and a member of the Gundersen credentialing office will work with you to complete that.

Volunteers from a variety of backgrounds are needed to support the partnerships with Pine Ridge. Please complete a Volunteer Form and describe your interest and a member of the Global Partners team will follow up with you to discuss potential opportunities.

Volunteers on a Pine Ridge trip must be able to endure long days (10+ hours) of physical activity, which may include standing, walking, light lifting and sitting. Volunteers must be age 18 or older; minors (14 and older) may be allowed on a volunteer trip if accompanied by a parent or guardian.

The Trip: Each team will determine the specifics of their departure/arrival times, but generally teams leave Sunday at 7 a.m. from Gundersen. It is a 10 hour drive, so teams usually stop in Mitchell, SD, for lunch, arriving in Pine Ridge about 5pm. Monday is typically a "cultural orientation day," which begins with a visit to the Oglala Lakota College Cultural Center, and often includes presentations and meetings with our tribal partners. For teams working in the Wanblee Clinic, on Monday they will also get an orientation at the clinic and access to the electronic health record, which is needed to complete patient documentation throughout the week.

Each evening (Monday-Thursday) volunteers will be done between 5 and 7 p.m., depending on their specific work. Plan to eat later each evening - around 7 or 7:30 p.m. most nights - and spend time debriefing as a team. Also, take advantage of morning or evening downtime to see some of the sites around Pine Ridge: Red Cloud School heritage museum & art gallery, Wounded Knee, Piya Wiconi, the Badlands, Singing Horse Trading Post, etc.

The group will wrap up on Friday by noon, sometimes earlier. Some may choose to drive straight back to La Crosse (arriving in La Crosse around midnight) while others may choose a more leisurely pace and stay overnight in hotel on the way back, arriving back home on Saturday or Sunday.

Cost: The total cost per volunteer to serve on Pine Ridge for a week is $350. This cost covers lodging at the Lakota Prairie Ranch Resort for a double room; if a volunteer requests a single room, this increases the cost by $30/night (to a total trip cost of $500). Lakota Prairie Ranch provides bedding and towels, has wireless internet and a cafe. The team usually also reserves a room with a small kitchenette so that the group can prepare meals family-style rather than eating out each evening, if preferred.

The $350 payment (or $500 if getting a single room) also helps pay for the vehicle rental (which is partially covered by Global Partners), gas expenses, breakfast and lunch food, and supplies to support the team's work. This amount is made payable to the Gundersen Medical Foundation-Global Partners and is considered a charitable contribution since it supports medical volunteer service work. Volunteers may choose to drive separately, which reduces their payment for the trip by $50. Volunteers should plan to bring additional money for eating out on the way to/from Pine Ridge (approximately 3-4 meals), and an optional overnight hotel stay when heading back to La Crosse at the end of the week.

Gundersen employees may apply for a Global Partners grant to help offset the costs of volunteering on Pine Ridge (up to $250).

What to bring: Teams are encouraged to pack layers of clothing as the weather is highly variable, especially in spring and fall! Medical teams should plan to dress work casual and also bring your Gundersen name badge to wear while at the clinic.

Volunteers are welcome to bring a camera for taking pictures; the scenery is breathtaking and the people are beautiful! However, please refrain from taking photos in the clinic unless you have received a patient's permission, as well as that of any staff who may present. It is always a good idea to ask someone's permission prior to taking a photo even in a non-medical setting, too. Please do not take pictures of ceremonial grounds on Pine Ridge.

For food, volunteers should plan to bring snacks and beverages for the drive (be forewarned, sharing happens). Breakfast and lunch meals will be organized by the team lead and are included in your volunteer cost. Dinner details will be organized during your pre-trip orientation.

Medical Issues: Volunteers must be up-to-date on immunizations including DPT and influenza. Hepatitis A & B vaccines are also strongly recommended.

Communication: English is the primary language spoken by most members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, so no interpreters are needed to provide medical care on Pine Ridge. Some members of the tribe also speak Lakota, which is the language indigenous to the Lakota Sioux

Time off: This is a volunteer experience for which you will not be paid. You may choose to take PTO or unpaid time off – you need to make arrangements with your manager. Gundersen associate and medical staff may also use CME time (but not CME money) to participate in a Global Partners trip.

Love + Medicine

Every day, Gundersen Health System delivers great medicine plus a little something extra—we call it Love + Medicine.

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