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Cheryl Cook

Navajo Department of Health - Health Education Program

Acting Senior Health Educator & HIV Health Educator Tuba City Service Area

Cheryl Cook is the Acting Senior Health Educator and HIV Health Educator for the Navajo Health Education Program. She is originally from Ganado, AZ, but work has relocated her to Tuba City, AZ, a Navajo community located approximately 80-miles north of Flagstaff, AZ. As a Health Educator, she provides public health education and HIV screenings. Her roles changed since the COVID-19 pandemic to help meet the needs of the Nation’s COVD-19 response. Cheryl is assigned to the Navajo Health Command Operations Center (HCOC) Strike Team, who serves at the front lines to deliver essential supplies to COVID-19 patients and high-risk individuals and conduct home assessments for multigenerational families living with elders.

“Our duties and responsibilities do not end until there are no more cases of the coronavirus on the Navajo Nation. Wanting and hoping this pandemic to end is one of my motivations to keep doing my job every day. My Diné people, who I consider my family, colleagues, and friends, inspire me to keep pressing forward when I feel weary and when the challenges seem overpowering and impossible.”

Cheryl

Serving as a frontline worker requires Cheryl and her team to spend many hours traveling to patients’ homes, and many residents live within the rural areas of the Navajo Nation. For example, many patients live many miles off the main highways, and the only access to their homes is through rough dirt roads. She and her team delivers to approximately 13 to 15 homes per day. Once checking in at the office in the morning, Cheryl prepares to leave for the field. Her unit, on average, loads enough boxes of dry food, produce, bags of pet food, hygiene kits, and water cases into the company truck to deliver to COVID-19 and high-risk patients. She offers these essential items throughout Western Navajo Agency encompassing about 9,000 square miles, and a population of 36,737.

Cheryl had the opportunity to meet the world-renowned celebrity Sean Penn, the founder of the Community Organized Relief Effort Foundation (CORE Foundation). The CORE Foundation responds to the needs of the most vulnerable populations during a disaster, focusing on holistic and sustainable solutions to the community they serve.

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“One of the most rewarding experiences on the job was meeting Sean Penn. Mr. Penn gave his all for our people while in Tuba City, AZ. He laughed with us, and he thanked us for the diligent work we are doing. It was an experience I will never forget.”

Cheryl

Cheryl expressed that the work she does may be challenging and hard, but she knows her patients need her. After a long day, she reflects on the patients she visited and the amount of gratitude they have shown her. She said hearing, “Ahe’hee’,” from elders is the best feeling at the end of the day.

“I wholeheartedly believe that staying home, wearing face coverings, and staying 6 feet from others is important in bringing down the cases of COVID-19. Please pray for our Nation and for the families of the people the virus has affected.”

Cheryl
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