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Brenda White

Navajo Department of Health

Community Health Representative Supervisor for the Contact Tracing Team – Kayenta and Tuba City Region

Brenda White supervises 10 Community Health Representatives and two assistants – one each for Kayenta and Tuba City. She and her team conduct contact tracing outreach and deliver food and supplies for the Kayenta and Tuba City areas, regularly working 10-14-hour days during the COVID-19 response. There are a couple of vacancies on her staff, so the team pulls together to cover the areas that don’t have a Community Health Representative.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Brenda’s team manages contact tracing for those who may have been exposed to coronavirus. The top priorities of her team are to make sure any potentially-infected individuals can safely quarantine, contact those who may have been exposed, and conduct daily wellness checks of everyone involved.

For those who test positive for COVID-19, there is an initial assessment, which includes a series of questions about the locations and people who may have been in contact with that individual. Her team contacts the individuals who are tested every day for at least 14 days to check on their wellness, determine if they are symptomatic, and follows up with others who may have been exposed to request that they get tested.

Brenda recounts a recent situation where one of her Community Health Representatives, took immediate action to get medical attention for a patient.

“We contact people who get tested or may have been exposed to coronavirus every day for a minimum of 14 days to check on their wellness,” said Brenda. “Recently, we called someone for their daily check-in, and they didn’t answer the phone. If you cannot get in touch with someone three times, we do a home visit. In this instance, our CHR found the individual was critically ill, and she had to call 9-1-1 to get emergency medical help. That is why contact tracing is so important. If we miss a day, someone’s life could be in jeopardy.”

Brenda

Brenda understands the critical role her team plays in the Navajo Nation’s COVID-19 response and explains how and her “ladies” go above and beyond what is expected of them to ensure their patients receive the highest level of care.

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“The ‘ladies’ are so committed to their communities,” said Brenda, who proudly described the team she supervises. “I am so appreciative of their roles with the program and the way they overcome the myriad of challenges they face every day Some nights, the ladies don’t finish their work until 9 or 10 p.m. because they choose to help with deliveries of food, wood, PPE, or whatever, even after a full day of contact tracing calls and visits. They do more than what is asked of them – especially for our elders - until the job is done.””

Brenda

Brenda shied away from the “Frontline Hero” moniker when asked about the critical role she and her team play in the COVID-19 response, but recognizes that they face serious risks every day they are supporting the communities they serve.

“It occurred to me that we were truly at risk when one of my staff members was exposed while conducting a COVID-19 test,” said Brenda. “I have a new awareness that we are truly on the front line. At the end of the day, we all go home to our families, but the ladies never complain and they do their jobs. I don’t even know what I would do if I ever lost one of my ladies. They truly understand what an emergency is.”

Brenda

Brenda White grew up in the Forest Lake, AZ area, and marked one year with the Navajo Department of Health in April as a Community Health Worker Supervisor in Kayenta, AZ, and Tuba City, AZ. Before joining the NDOH, Brenda worked in a behavioral health facility, known as The Guidance Center in Flagstaff, AZ, for 10 years. Prior to that, Brenda was a Community Health Worker with the Navajo Community Health Worker program in the Chinle Service Unit, serving Forest Lake.

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