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Nanneray Nez

Navajo Department of Health

Senior Community Health Worker - Winslow

Nanneray Nez is a Senior Community Health Worker (CHR) in the Winslow service area. She joined the team in March 2020, right as the COVID-19 pandemic started in Navajo Nation.

Before COVID-19, CHRs conducted in-home health visits, checking patients' vitals, and doing light chores. These days, CHRs are unable to enter residents' homes due to the risk of exposure, but, they still travel miles on unpaved roads to serve their patients, even if someone is COVID-19 positive.

A "typical" day for Nanneray is not 8 to 5, as she juggles between reports and emails in the office and delivering supplies in the field to those in her service area who most need her support.

"Once I get to work, we pick up our vehicle, sanitize it, check and pack our PPEs and disinfectants," said Nanneray. "Then we load the supplies, like food, water, wood, hygiene kits, and cleaning kits, and make sure we have gas. When we leave, we are out all day and then manage reports and phone calls to patients when we eventually return to the office."

Nanneray

Nanneray's motivation is fueled by those she helps. Sometimes, that help is in the form of emotional support, as many residents lack an outside-world connection. Nanneray and her CHR colleagues realize that they may be the only people who reach out to see if residents want to talk and share how they are feeling.

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"We call and check on our high-risk patients because we can't always see them in person," said Nanneray. "Many of our elders live alone, and a phone call brightens their day. Our patients know they can't go out due to the risk of exposure, so a call to see how they are doing – both emotionally and physically reminds them that people care."

Nanneray

Wearing multiple hats means that CHRs like Nanneray need to be adaptable. She delivers food, water, firewood, face masks, hand sanitizer, cleaning supplies, and other items to those unable to access life-preserving supplies. Given that the requests for a range of services come in daily, Nanneray does everything she can to fulfill the same-day requests. She has comforted those who are depressed and afraid, delivered sports equipment to children who requested it, and even facilitated the construction for an outhouse to be built for a community member.

With all she does, Nanneray recognizes that stopping the spread of coronavirus needs is a shared responsibility with those she serves. Residents play an important role in fighting this disease.

"Educate yourself about COVID-19, and learn how you can help yourself and your family," said Nanneray. "Teach your family members about how they can help themselves so that they can help others. Support one another and see if anyone needs assistance. If Navajo Nation residents reach out to us (the CHRs), we will always be here for them."

Nanneray
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Nanneray Nez is from Fort Defiance, AZ, and resides in the Greasewood Springs, AZ area. She attended the Rocky Ridge Boarding School in her youth, splitting her time between the dorms and her family's home. Each summer, Nanneray lived at her grandmother's homestead. Along with other CHRs throughout the Navajo Nation, Nanneray is a member of the HCOC Strike team, serving Navajo communities to help mitigate COVID-19.

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