Katrine Bengaard, DO, practices medicine in Kotzebue, a small city in northwestern Alaska within the Arctic Circle. In recent weeks, Dr. Bengaard has been an integral part of the area’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts, Good Morning America reported earlier this month.
With a team of three other health care professionals—a pharmacist and two nurses—Dr. Bengaard is traveling via plane, sled and snowmobile to reach the elderly residents of the region’s remote communities, where health care services can be very difficult to access. Some residents would have no way to get the COVID vaccine if the team did not travel to their location.
To get to these patients, the team is often traveling hundreds of miles in subzero temperatures during a time of year when their area of Alaska only sees a few hours of daylight each day. They are administering vaccines in both clinics and in patients’ homes.
“It was wonderful to be able to offer the vaccine, not just to the people who were able to make it into the village clinics but also into homes of elders who are homebound,” Dr. Bengaard told GMA. “This particular patient was someone whose parents had survived the 1918 flu, so it was really important for her family that she be vaccinated, so that she’d be given a better chance through this pandemic. The 1918 flu was really devastating to some of the communities up here, and it was just wonderful to be able to offer that to her.”