Preparing for Living in Bethel
Whether you are a permanent hire, locums or resident you will need to prepare to arrive in Bethel with appropriate expectations, clothing and supplies, etc. and a way to live comfortably for up to 4–6 weeks.
You are headed to a very isolated part of the country. There are stores in Bethel and Amazon can ship to you (two weeks standard mail or as little as less than a week for prime), but it is good to come prepared. Most likely you will be staying in resident housing, locums housing or new hire temporary housing. These are shared units and there is no maid service so it is important to leave it as clean or cleaner than you found it and resupply any paper or cleaning products that run out while you are there.
Packing and Arrival in Bethel
Unless you have GCI service, your cell phone will not work in Bethel. There is poor guest wifi available at hospital and OK wifi available at your lodging. Wifi in Bethel is OK, but not great as it is obtained through satellite connection.
Food and Supplies
You should bring a lot of food. Food is flown in and costs 30–50 percent more in Bethel than in the Lower 48. The grocery stores in Bethel are very well-stocked, but you will be paying a Delta premium. Example: A gallon of milk at about $8 and flour at $10–15. You cannot buy alcohol in Bethel so bring it if you want it. Boxed wine travels and keeps well! Bring with you things like soap and shampoo (all toiletries). They are expensive and the stores may not have what you like to use.
The dress is casual, and is more functional than fashionable. You have either snow and ice or mud and dust. So don’t bring your super nice things. Boots are essential. You need warm ones for winter, when it can be -30, and you need waterproof ones to combat the mud and wet tundra. Breakup is normally early May on the Delta. Work attire is business casual and neat and professional. On Fridays, clinic providers can wear jeans. The hospital has scrubs for inpatient/ED, but if you have a favorite pair or two bring those. Hospital Scrubs CANNOT leave the hospital.
For the cold months of October through April, make sure to pack appropriately. If you have any interest in medevacs, riding a snow machine or exploring outside, you will need a very warm jacket, snow pants, gloves, hat and possibly a face mask. There are people willing to lend you the warm jackets and pants, but if you have warm stuff and it fits in your bags, you should bring it. The boardwalks and roads can be very icy, so a pair of microspikes to go over your boots is helpful.
First Days of Work
- Go to HR on the second floor of the admin building across the street from the hospital.
- Attend your two days of corporate orientation or the AMO (Annual Mandatory Orientation) in the computer kiosk in HR depending on whether you are staff or a resident.
- Get fingerprinted in HR
- Have someone in HR bring you to technology in the same building.
- IT — Obtain your passwords for:
- network access
- email (might be the same as network access)
- AFHCAN telemed password
- other passwords you will get elsewhere include imaging eRad from the Radiology Dept. and the ANMC Cerner computer charting by calling 907-563-2662, asking for Technology and having them set you up with your password—if they say they don’t have your SARF, have Diane Wasuli-Dock resend it)
- After corporate orientation, go across the street to the hospital side
- In West Wing, enter through the doors on your left as you ascend the wheelchair ramp. Find employee health past the WIC window to have them update your immunization record from the record send from your residency.
- If you are due for a Tdap or flu shot, etc., they will give it to you for free.
- If you are due for a PPD (or CXR since a pos ppd) they will offer that for free as well.
- Get a badge in maintenance (ask Diane Wasuli-Dock to escort you since you need someone with a badge to get you in the hallway to maintenance)—Make sure the badge says “MD” or “DO” as well as “Resident Physician,” “Family Physician,” “Pediatrician,” etc. on it.
- Hospital tour, usually provided by DianeWasuli-Dock.
- Get eRAD access when visiting Radiology.
- Call ANMC at **97 to ask for Technology to get passwords to their Powerchart/Outreach program as above.
EMR: We have a “new” Cerner system that we call RAVEN and you should be receiving a half-day orientation on it within your first few days of starting work.
Living in Bethel
While Bethel is not a large town, it can be a bit tricky to navigate and find your way around. Bethel is a town of approximately 7,400 people in western Alaska. There are very few road signs; there are no street signs and not all the roads are paved. The roads weave around off the main ‘highway’ and it is easy to get lost. See Bethel City Map
There are lots of cab companies. They are pretty much all the same. The fare within the center of town is always $5 but if you go to Tundra Ridge, the airport or Kasayulie Subdivision it is $7. Be warned that they may pick up multiple other people along the way, and thus a 5-minute trip may turn into a much longer adventure.
YKHC provides taxi vouchers for all locums providers. If you need more, contact Mae Engler in West Wing or Diane Wasuli-Dock.
For residents…Please see resident section.
- Kusko Cab: 543-2169
- Quyana Cab: 543-5454
- Alaska Cab: 543-2111
Getting to work:
Walking to work is a good way to get exercise and see the town. Most of the lodging for our staff and residents is within walking distance, but some is farther than others. Walking on the Tundra or boardwalk can be more pleasant than walking on the roads.
For people less willing to walk through the mud, snow, ice or wind, you can always call a cab.
Swanson’s: across the street from the hospital recently went out of business. The movie theater is still in operation. The “old” Swanson’s is now reopened by the river. You can get groceries there although it is more expensive than AC. There is also a hardware store there.
AC (Alaska Commercial): Can walk here from the 800 Building: right on Akiak, left on Mission, right into the driveway before the Park & Rec building with the playground and you will walk on a path with a small lake on your right and a water pipe and cemetery on your left. The path ends at the highway and when you make a right, you will see the AC down a little ways on the left side of the road.
Meyers Farm: in Tundra Ridge. Tim Meyers sells locally grown produce as well as imported organic produce. Open Wednesdays 1–6 and Saturdays 9–1. It is a busy spot, so get there early if you want the best selection. It’s a $7 cab fare each direction and unless you have a phone who knows how you’ll get back.
There are several “Quick stop” type stores including Sammy’s market and the Swansons Quick stop. Corina’s is down by the small boat harbor and carries case lot/Costco size products.
The water in Bethel sometimes has a yellow-tinge to it. It is safe to drink and does not taste too bad, but you may want to filter your water for drinking. You can get filters at AC and other stores, but you don’t want to pay Bethel prices for bottled water!
There is no garbage service in Bethel, but there are dumpsters all over town
Art store at the Cultural Center: all handmade art, including carvings, photographs and ceramics.
Lucy’s Cache: out by the airport, above the Yute terminal. Has Native jewelry, cards and gifts. Also has fur sewing supplies, just in case you need that, too.
Video Rentals: Library *20 for free. Video World, next to AC, for one night rentals with a good selection of movies. There is no rhyme or reason to how they file their videos so expect to spend a long time finding a specific video. AC also rents for the same cost as Video World. AC has a 3 non-new release movies for 3 days for 3 dollars on Tuesday. Also the new videos show up on Tuesday.
Post office: on the highway, past YKHC. Can access P.O. boxes from 10 a.m.–7 p.m. M-F, though the pick-up desk closes at 5:30 p.m. Can usually access boxes 10 a.m.–12 p.m. Saturday, and pick up packages, but this is not always the case.
UAF Kuskokwim campus: the majority of the regular classes are very expensive but they also offer a lot of short term classes through their cooperative extension program such as Judo, step aerobics, fur mitten sewing, pickling and guitar lessons. http://www.bethel.uaf.edu/
Cultural Center: large, multipurpose building housing the library, meeting rooms and gift shop. This is where the Saturday Market and the majority of events are held. Also houses the Yup’ik Museum.
Library: inside the Cultural Center. You can get a library card and they have a small collection of books, movies, and a very good collection of books on Alaska. There is a small group of women who knit on Saturdays starting at around 1 p.m. in the “Alaska” room. There is a book club that meets on Thursday evenings at 6. Story Hour – Wed. from 11 a.m.–12 p.m. @ Kuskokwim Consortium Library (great computer for kids, children’s videos and books).
Lion’s Club building: across the street from the Cultural Center. Lots of events held here from Bethel Friends of Canines pancake breakfasts to rummage sales benefitting the Winter Home.
Chester’s Dance Studio: Chester trains many of the heath aides, but he is also an amazing dance instructor. He offers tango, salsa, swing and cha-cha classes. His studio is at 199 Alex Hately or at the Elder’s home. His number if 545-4699, which you can call for an updated schedule. He donates the proceeds to the Tundra Women’s Coalition.
VFW post: right down the street from the house on Akiak. There is Bingo here Monday to Saturday evenings, as well as NRA-funded steak dinners.
Banks: There is a Wells Fargo Bank in the building with Video World next to the AC grocery store and an Alaska USA in the AC store. There is an Alaska USA ATM in the entrance to the hospital. There is also a First National Bank of Alaska on the riverfront.
YKHC Employee Wellness Center: a small gym located in the YKHC admin building, across from the hospital. You sign up for it at HR, also in the admin building, on the 2nd floor. $25/month.
Yukon-Kuskokwim Fitness Center: New pool and fitness center. Offers classes and open gym access. Open Tuesday to Sundays. Fees range from $8 per visit to $60 monthly. There is also a Flex and Fit package that allows 10 class sessions in 8 weeks. You will have to ask about this as they don’t volunteer the info. Classes currently include Zumba, Spin, Cardio, Water polo.
Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge: interesting displays of stuffed wildlife in the area with info about the animals and refuge. Good place to get info on bird watching, berry picking, fishing, etc. Movies on Saturday.
Walks: In the summertime, up the road from Larson subdivision, there is a path that goes out on the right side behind a gate that says no trespassing. We take that to mean motorized vehicles, not us… Also, part way to Kasayuli Subdivision there is a path on the left after the big curve around to the right that has a nice path that goes out to the airport. Both are good for cranberries and blueberries as well as beautiful views.
You can also walk down by the river…reached by walking across the street from the hospital and behind the admin building along a dirt road and turning left when you get to the river…Or ask someone where Pinky’s park is in City sub for some boardwalks across the tundra but within the circle of town.
In the wintertime, be very cautious about skiing or hiking on the trails. Snow machines travel very fast and their ability to see you can be very limited, especially in the long hours of darkness. One of the docs here got run over by a sno-go and ended up with a compound tib/fib fx. Beware! In the dark when you are walking, please always wear reflective gear and/or brightly colored clothing. This makes things much safer for both you and the drivers around Bethel. There are reflective items available in the coffee shop in the CHSB.
Mud Hut: on the highway between the hospital and the post office. Burgers, fries, daily specials. They also have a new drive- through espresso window, the first drive-through in town.
Dimitris: on 4th Ave, near the AC. They offer typical Bethel food such as pizza and burgers, but also offer gyros, chicken lemon rice soup and a few other unique options. Plus, people love them on Yelp!
Alba’s: coffee shop in the same plaza as the Subway, across from the AC.
Subway: the only chain restaurant in Bethel. Pricier than its lower 48 sister stores, but with basically the same offerings. Across from the AC.
Coffee shop: in the YKHC admin building, across from the hospital. Housed in the safety store, which is also fun to explore.
Chopstix: sushi, Chinese, burgers. Used to be called VIP and has changed locations at least twice in the past two years. Current location as of 3/2015 Go right on Akiak, Go left on Chief Eddie Hoffman. At the stop sign at the Y, Stay right on Chief Eddie Hoffman (not straight for Ridgecrest). You will see it straight ahead just before the road curves to the right to the small boat harbor. Seems to be the favorite recruiting dinner site for the hospital staff. But, sushi is not terrible and they deliver.
Ptarmigan Restaurant: in Tundra Ridge. They attempt Mexican food but also have the typical Bethel choices of burgers and pizza.
Brother’s Pizza: in Yute terminal at the airport.
Sicily’s Pizza: Right on Akiak then left on Mission (6th) to the end of the road (on your left). They use gluten free crust and use fresh veggies from Meyer’s farm in Bethel.
Coffee Shop: At the upstairs area of the Grant Aviation building if you need a fix of your favorite hot coffee drink. The also have some pastries and baked bread there as well. They also make pretty good sandwiches. Wi-fi available there.
There are others and menus are floating around the hospital. Everywhere serves a multiethnic menu, usually Chinese and American with a third option that is variable.
Cama-i Dance Festival: in mid-April. This is a huge festival with lots of dancing, food and vendors.
Breakup: the day the Kuskokwim River ice breaks up and starts flowing. There is a Winter Classic, which means you enter a guess for the date and time the ice will break and the winner takes home a ton of money. On the day of breakup there is also free food and live music down by the river.
Kuskokwim 300: the big sled dog race in the Delta, in January. Starts and ends on the river. They are always looking for volunteers to help the mushers and run headquarters. There are events throughout the week, including an awards banquet at the end.
Saturday Market: at the Cultural Center, monthly. There are lots of Native crafts and it is typically the place to be on those days. There is a schedule posted at the Cultural Center on the bulletin board.