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Covid-19 Among The Navajo Tribe

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I’m a Native RN who has decided to help the people in this small Nation. As I write, we’ve become the center with the greatest number among all tribal Nations in the United States.

by TreeJ TreeJ, ADN, RN (New)

Specializes in Ambulatory Care. Has 22 years experience.

I am just one person, but aren't we all?

Covid-19 Among The Navajo Tribe

An enemy on the reservation

On the tribal reservation I live on there are probably greater than 488 cases of Covid-19 and 22 deaths. Enrolled members number roughly 352,000, with around 173,000 of that number on the reservation area. As you arrive here, I liken it to stepping back in time. People live in family clusters, 1 home, lack of running water, electricity in some parts. There are many elders who speak the native language only. No communication devices as a simple phone and some don’t have knowledge of the Internet. To say we’ve recovered from decades of great decline would not be accurate. Now, this enemy in the form of a virus here, targeting us. Unable to be reasoned with, debated with, but rather a realization that only with Global collaboration we will at least survive.

I am worried

As a Native RN, I feel part of a few with some knowledge, where I can be of assistance. I remember wanting to be in human service, and to help the people all I can. Where lack of PPE might only be the minor issue, it is concerning that general living conditions, health issues, language barriers the major battle here. How Covid-19 affects me just might erase so much of what I identify with by blood. I’m worried for the people so few in this Nation.

The villain virus

Researching past events as this is, disease is reported as causing more reduction of population of the North American Indigenous than human conflict. Having little exposure to diseases of other continents, the population is said to have been reduced immensely. Now, here in the year 2020, we are once again facing a villain virus, which is not only new to us but the World.

When asked by new visitors, the disease processes present here. Without hesitation, I always relay that Diabetes & Hypertension I see so commonly. Care planning for this population always felt difficult, as you must consider can they buy the right food, do they live in the right conditions, will they even have transportation to their Provider’s next appointment. Recently, I remember an elderly non-English speaking woman hitchhiking to the clinic, and having to assist her in a way home.

Working among this growing storm, I wanted to assist. So, chose to stay in this area, which seems to have the greatest numbers. It changes so drastically each day, higher and higher. I’m so busy to follow minute to minute, but know my locale is readying as best they can. Teams are in place, the staff has been divided to accommodate the surge they are sure is coming.

I keep hearing the words, “I can't believe what is happening.” The older Nurses comfort the younger, and the younger appear ready to battle here.

In the end ...

I wonder how it will be and not as they predict. Though, of all tribal Nations in the United States, the cases here are highest, there are more tribes than whose numbers are less than 10,000 members. I pray each day for them, as well as all the World.

All these years, believing that we can only have progression, then hearing statistics, we as a people could decline once again. The thought is disheartening.

I am but one person

Just like the rest of this country Nurses are few. My hope is being among them that I won't deter by becoming ill and can help that next Nurse with some relief. As I hear, we are all in this together. So, remember us, the smallest of people, also. Here there are no great metropolitans, but such rural communities and health care so basic it might depopulate us as a mini Nation. I’m one person, but indeed we all are. Believe you will make a difference, be it city, state, town, village.

Quote

“Always act as if your guest is cold, tired & hungry and act accordingly” ~ Navajo Proverb

Treina, RN

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17 Comment(s)

LibraSunCNM, MSN

Specializes in OB. Has 10 years experience.

Thank you for sharing your perspective! What kind of medical facilities do you have access to on the reservation? Do people have to go off the reservation to get care?

TreeJ, ADN, RN

Specializes in Ambulatory Care. Has 22 years experience.

Good Morning. Their are facilities mainly under the Health and Human Services who provide care, but if needed then Referrals are made outside of service area.

Naturally Brilliant, BSN, RN

Has 5 years experience.

Do the people there believe in allopathic medicine? I thought they weren't big fans of that and preferred spiritual healing stuff...

handydandy, EMT-B

Specializes in EMT/Urgent Care. Has 6 years experience.

Stay strong TreeJ! You are a true blessing to everyone!

TreeJ, ADN, RN

Specializes in Ambulatory Care. Has 22 years experience.

@Naturally Brilliant

Hi,

Regarding your question. The medical care includes spiritual & considerate of culture when offering care.

Walk in Beauty my friend. I am a retired IHS nurse and sending you love.

Well written post and very touching. I know money is not the answer to all things but wondering how we can best help. Thank you for all you do and thinking of you.

DannyBoy8, RN

Has 4 years experience.

On 4/13/2020 at 9:09 AM, Naturally Brilliant said:

Do the people there believe in allopathic medicine? I thought they weren't big fans of that and preferred spiritual healing stuff...

Most reservations have an IHS or tribal hospital with doctors, nurses, RTs, etc.

anitalaff, BSN, RN

Specializes in Public health program evaluation. Has 5 years experience.

I was moved by your post. Thank you for sharing this.

MaleICURN, BSN

Specializes in Critical Care, PICU, OR. Has 47 years experience.

Ahéhee'

Nizhónígo Damóotsoh

And again "Thank you" and "Happy Easter" from former Navajo Nation RN (though I'm not NATIVE Navajo)

Are there areas on need right now of temporary help. I havent worked as a nurse for three years but would be glad to get in somewhere to help during the crisis. I have been laid off from my curent job that is not in the health care field. And would be open to almost all areas of the country. I have. I'm an RN, BSN in a compact state. My area has no emergent need currently and in fact non critical nurses and HC personnel are being laid off and salaries cut. Anyone out there with information, will you please forward? Thanks in advance!

DannyBoy8, RN

Has 4 years experience.

23 hours ago, katiehydrangea said:

Are there areas on need right now of temporary help. I havent worked as a nurse for three years but would be glad to get in somewhere to help during the crisis. I have been laid off from my curent job that is not in the health care field. And would be open to almost all areas of the country. I have. I'm an RN, BSN in a compact state. My area has no emergent need currently and in fact non critical nurses and HC personnel are being laid off and salaries cut. Anyone out there with information, will you please forward? Thanks in advance!

On indeed.com I have seen IHS travel jobs in the 4 corners region for 40-50/hour. The IHS has always needed help, I can't imagine endemic staff shortages have gotten better due to covid.

Sunspun

Specializes in Atypical psychology.

Thank you for posting

I can't speak to the healthcare aspect, but my church is delivering food from the Bishop's Storehouse in Salt Lake to the elderly and isolated of the Navajo Nation who have no access to grocery stores. They are not forgotten.

On 4/16/2020 at 10:30 AM, katiehydrangea said:

Are there areas on need right now of temporary help. I havent worked as a nurse for three years but would be glad to get in somewhere to help during the crisis. I have been laid off from my curent job that is not in the health care field. And would be open to almost all areas of the country. I have. I'm an RN, BSN in a compact state. My area has no emergent need currently and in fact non critical nurses and HC personnel are being laid off and salaries cut. Anyone out there with information, will you please forward? Thanks in advance!

You can call the hospitals directly and ask for the nurse manager whatever area you’d want to work. They should be able to tell you what travel companies they use, etc. if you don’t know the hospitals, look on IHS.gov