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.