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Elective Rotation: Sugar Bowl Urgent Care

Contact: Wendy Dryden, Cheryl McBride

Location: Sugar Bowl Ski Resort

I worked alongside Dr. Cheryl McBride, a Kaiser Santa Rosa emergency physician who is also sports med trained, at the Sugar Bowl Urgent Care clinic. Dr. McBride volunteers at Sugar Bowl 4 days per ski season, so ask early and cross your fingers that your elective time matches her shifts if you’d like to join her.

The clinic is an urgent care branch of the Tahoe Forest Hospital ED. It is staffed by an RN, an imaging tech, and a clerical person, and one volunteer MD. Every time ski patrol brings an injured/fatigued person down the mountain, they are quickly assessed by the RN and triaged to either go offsite to the real ED, to walk out, or to be assessed by the MD in this clinic. The clinic is cash pay only, with receipts provided so that people can petition their private insurance to reimburse. This means that patients largely self-select if they’d like to fork over the cost to see the MD. There are all the basic ER supplies and equipment, including some meds and x-ray in the urgent care.

On my rotation, I got lucky. There had been recent snowfall, and the slopes were VERY busy. The shifts fell over New Years and therefore, school break. I reduced many shoulders and elbows, placed splints, read x-rays for fracture/disolaction, assessed for concussion, sutured wounds, and practiced many many shoulder and knee exams with one of the best sports med/emergency teachers we interact with in residency. There was also a code blue on the mountain, so I did chest compressions and ran through ACLS with Dr. McBride and the helicopter paramedics. Really amazing and unreal to get to experience this outside, on snow, next helicopter propellers, with tens of skiers looking on from the nearby lodge!

Other perks of this elective included a free ski pass to use during clinic downtime! I got in 5 or 10 good runs.


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