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Mabel Charley

Navajo Department of Health

Senior Community Health Worker – Kayenta

Mabel Charley is a Senior Community Health Worker in the Kayenta region. Since the start of the pandemic, Mabel performs education on COVID-19 prevention and conducts wellness checks for those who test positive or may have been exposed. Additionally, she delivers supplies – including food, PPE, and isolation kits – to members of the Navajo community who are COVID-19 positive or at high risk of severe symptoms if exposed.

Recently, Mabel and a colleague delivered an isolation kit and supplies to a family in Dennehotso, AZ, where six family members from the same household tested positive for COVID-19. Of the six, a father, his daughter, and her six-year-old child were all infected…three generations under the same roof contracted coronavirus. The father had been transported to a Phoenix hospital for treatment, and, unfortunately, the family had just received the call that he passed away as Mabel arrived with the delivery.

“My colleague and I had to take a break for 10 to 15 minutes and regroup after that visit,” said Mabel, as she recalled that heartbreaking home visit. “Until that moment, I was in denial about my younger brother’s death a couple of months ago, and we just laid my nephew to rest two weeks ago (both were 46 years old and passed away from COVID-19). We are all from this same community, but I have a job to do. I pray for strength and spiritual growth every day because what we are doing is so important.”


Each day she is in the field, Mabel encounters Navajo Nation residents who have different reactions to the pandemic. Some people don’t want to wear masks or have their temperature checked if they go to the grocery store. Others are traumatized and insist on wearing masks and gloves all of the time. She encourages the residents to model good prevention behavior and avoid being judgmental, as people process stress in a myriad of ways.


“People observe what you do, especially if you are a Community Health Worker,” said Mabel. “We have to be educated about the risks and model good prevention behaviors. If I am to teach CDC precautions, I have to practice what I teach. I pray that we can be more understanding and love one another a bit more, too.”


Mabel Charley grew up in Chilchinbito, AZ, and has been with the Navajo Department of Health for 22 years. Mabel left the program a few years ago to continue her medical education at Eastern Arizona College. After graduating, she re-applied to the Community Health Worker program and returned in February 2020 to contribute her new learning and skills to the Navajo people.

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