Biden took a tour of the Alaska Native Medical Center, where she marveled at some of the ways Alaska medical providers distributed COVID-19 vaccines, especially to tribal communities.
Dr. Cate Buley, the Medical Director of Primary Care Clinics at Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium told the first lady, ‘we delivered some vaccines in some whale-watching boats,’ adding that it was ‘nothing I ever expected.’
‘Or you want to do again,’ Biden said laughing.
Valerie Davidson, the President of the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, greeted the first lady by pointing out a garbage can outside where they had recently spotted a bear.
‘Maybe it will come back for my visit,’ Biden said.
Biden was given a tele-health demonstration at the site.
A map showed some of the distances communities are spread – with some as far as the distance from California to Georgia.
First lady Jill Biden made a stop in Anchorage, Alaska Wednesday en route to the Tokyo summer Olympics
The first lady was greeted on the tarmac and shown a garbage can where they recently spotted a bear. ‘Maybe it will come back for my visit,’ Biden said
Dr. Joseph Park, a cardiologist at the center, walked Biden through how people can see their EKG via computer. Dr. Cate Buley, beaming in from Juneau, said, ‘the silver lining to the pandemic has been the explosion of this tele-medicine service.’ She talked about how tele-medicine has led to cancer discoveries and healthy baby births.
Biden asked Buley how much mental health services she provides.
Buley responds that ‘it’s increased a drastic amount.’
Biden asked Buley, ‘are most of your patients receptive to getting the vaccine?’
‘Yes we have extremely high vaccination rates,’ Buley answered.
Afterward the first lady gave brief remarks.
Davidson used a native Alaskan tribal language to greet the first lady and then switched to language. She also noted that ‘some of our communities we have 100 per cent vaccination.’
Dr. Anne Zink, the chief medical officer for the state of Alaska, also gave welcome remarks.
Dr. Biden took off her mask to speak.
First lady Jill Biden is shown dolls wearing Alaskan native costume as she enters the Alaska Native Health Center Wednesday, receiving a trou from (from left) Dr. Anne Zink, the chief medical officer for the state of Alaska, and Valerie Davidson, the President of the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium
One of Dr. Jill Biden’s greeters held a polar bear statue in his hand as he stood on the tarmac Wednesday to wave Executive One Foxtrot goodbye as the first lady departed for Tokyo, Japan
Biden noted how Zink works out of a yurt.
Biden took the podium and tried several times to repeat the name of the Alaskan tribe that originally held the land – Dena’ina.
‘See I’m getting it,’ Biden said after a few attempts.
‘So as you know I’m heading for the Tokyo Olympics,’ she told the small group of reporters in the room. ‘I asked if I could just stay a little bit longer,’ she said of the stopover in Alaska.
‘This state really is special to Joe and to me,’ she added.
She talked about traveling the state with the late Sen. Ted Stevens, who served with President Biden in the U.S. Senate.
‘We traveled all over this state by plane – well, mostly by plane,’ Biden remarked.
She also talked about how she and Catherine Stevens were pregnant at the same time, when Biden was pregnant with daughter Ashley. ‘And it was really a big deal in the Senate because here there hadn’t been in a baby in the Senate for a long time,’ Biden said. ‘So most of them were, I guess, old men,’ she said to laughter.
She heralded the center ‘which has helped lead this state in vaccinating not only natives but non-natives as well.’
Biden talked about how she met a woman at her exercise class in Washington. ‘Jill she said I want to thank you for what you’re doing.’ ‘She said I lost four members of my family to the virus and she started to cry. And she said, you know what I did. I said what did you do Jackie And she said I went and I got 140 people to get the vaccine.’
‘I just felt so terrible for her,’ Biden continued. ‘This this is our path forward, reaching out to those who are still undecided, persuading them to protect themselves and others. And we need to make this care, person by person,’ she said, calling this the ‘last push.’
‘I’m asking all of you who are listening right now to choose to get vaccinated,’ Biden said. ‘COVID is more contagious than ever and it continues to spread. Even one hospitalization, only one life lost, is one too many.’