“Community Health Workers are the ones who provide life-preserving resources to those who need the most support in Navajo Nation,” said Sheila. “We provide wellness checks and services to a population that is at very high-risk for COVID-19, especially those who are elders or have health conditions. Most of the people we help in the Winslow Service Area live in remote areas – no electricity, no running water, many chronic conditions, and some people live alone – so they depend on us to be their champions, particularly if there is a change in their health.”
Problem-solving is all in a day’s work for Community Health Workers in the Winslow area.
Recently, one of the CHRs on Sheila’s team, Nanneray Nez, drove several hours on rocky, dirt roads to conduct a weekly wellness check with an elderly man in fragile health. The resident lives alone, uses a wheelchair to scoot around and had a tracheotomy…all made more challenging by the fact that he does not have electricity, running water, or phone service to reach someone if he has an emergency. Nanneray discovered that the resident accidentally burned his outhouse and could not safely use the bathroom. Not only did she arrange for a new Porta-Potty to be delivered to that remote location on the same day, but she partnered with Alberta Yazzie from Dig Deep (a non-profit that works to ensure that every American has clean, running water) to bring and fill a 55-gallon water barrel so that the man could maintain his hygiene.
In addition to problem-solving and conducting wellness checks, CHRs provide health education to Navajo Nation residents about COVID-19 and ways to help stop the spread of the disease. In the Winslow Service Area, many homes do not have radio, TV, or phone access to receive news or updates, so it is up to Sheila and her team to have physically-distanced conversations and provide pamphlets with critical information about COVID-19 to residents.