Re: Health and Medical Needs


As you might imagine medical facilities here are a bit sparse. Especially in the winter. We have a medical building that is more like a clinic in the states. In the winter there is a Doctor and a PA. They handle everything. Before any of us can spend the winter we have to go through something analogous to an astronaut physical. Anything wrong beyond blood pressure and you don’t get to come.You do get to retake the tests if you have time.  I’ve flunked a couple of times. Once for high creatinine levels and once for low calcium at the end of the winter. Both times I repeated the tests and they were normal. When you come down here all your relatives will think you are dying because of what they find ( I never heard of creatinine). They always find something, but that is the nature of tests. One day a little high and the next back to normal.
Summer  medical is busy. Several doctors and Rn’s. Also the military provides flight doctors for the flight crews. They double as physicians for the base.
In the event of serious medical problems, they can get a medivac flight in withing a few days. In most cases they can stablize the patients and get them out. There have been times when a couple of days wasn’t soon enough. That’s a risk we all live with. Winter is a whole different story. The pilots can’t see the runway unless there is enough light. The sun sets next week and it will become increasingly harder to get an emergency plane in. The next normal flight is around the 20th of August. Long wait. The other problem with winter medivacs is that the temperature has to be warmer than around -45, Otherwise the hydraulics begin to freeze. That means the landing gear and flaps won’t work when they go to take off again. All and all winter flights are very risky for the flight crews and something no one wants to do short of a critical emergency.
A number of summer Rns have stayed on the winter in various other jobs. Usually connected with the science center.;
Mike in McMurdo