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Vangie Castillo-Tully

Navajo Department of Health

Senior Community Health Worker - Crownpoint Service Unit

Vangie Castillo-Tully is from Heart Butte, NM, a small rural community three miles east of Crownpoint. She has worked for the Navajo Department of Health for approximately 12 years as a Senior Community Health Worker (CHR) within the Crownpoint Service Area. Daily, Vangie, and her team conduct in-home visits to perform welfare checks, deliver medication, food, water, and hygiene supplies. CHR's are temporarily not allowed to enter homes to check on their clients due to the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, they visit their clients now while staying outside their homes, and following the 6 feet & face mask requirement policy. Daily follow-ups are conducted to ensure her clients' safety and well-being.

Since COVID-19, Vangie has been assigned to additional projects, including teaching parenting skills for young families. Being apart of the Family Spirit Program, an evidence-based culturally appropriate home-visiting program, has made her adapt to various work environments and clients. Moreover, many of her parent participants are COVID-19 patients, and many families experience homelessness and other challenges.

The Fruits and Vegetable Prescription Program (FVRx) is another program her office provides. The FVRx is a program that enables clinicians, community health workers, and local stores to promote healthy eating.

In addition to Family Spirit and FvRx, she also fulfills the role of a contact tracer. Contact tracing is a form of contact investigations for COVID-19 positive patients. She makes daily contacts to ask about symptoms and help with resources when the individual has limited support. The CHRs role in contact tracing is to be a connection between the physician and patient. An advocate for the patient and a health educator for the physician to ensure healthy behaviors are reinforced.

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"As CHRs, we have to be capable of providing any family and individuals in need. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, many of our roles have changed. Still, we had to adjust and continue to fulfill our job duties and responsibilities. For example, before the Coronavirus, we were able to visit our clients in their homes and provide support. Now, we have to practice social distancing and wear personal protective equipment to ensure our clients' health and well-being. We adapted to the change because we care and love our patients. We provide curbside assistance, serve them outside their home, and speak with them by phone now"

explained Vangie

Vangie credits her clients for keeping her motivated. When a client affectionately calls her "Shiyazhi" or "Shi awe," it brings a feeling of well-being and happiness. Vangie reflects on the day she delivered a bag of potatoes and Blue Bird flour to a Grandfather, and she watched him dance with joy to express his appreciation.

"Every day, I say my morning prayers, and ask the Creator, that the people I see today are safe and well, and I don't lose anyone to this terrible disease. I do what I can by trying my best and give all I've got. I would not change my job for anything, because many people need our help. We need to be there for one another to beat this disease."

Vangie
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She asks all those on the Navajo Nation to beat by staying home, practicing healthy behaviors of washing our hands with soap and water, wearing cloth face coverings, and remaining 6 feet apart. Vangie also encourages her fellow citizens to stand firm in faith and prayer.

"Together, we can beat the virus! Be Diné strong, be resilient, be humble, and be tough,"

Vangie
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