The Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Center for Global Health (CGH) Office of Global Disaster Response and Humanitarian Action (GDR) has deployed a team this week to provide a professional response in support of one of the many communities of the Navajo Nation affected by COVID-19.

The Navajo Nation has the highest COVID-19 infection rate per capita than any individual US state. The Indian Health Service (IHS), which provides direct medical and public health services to members of federally-recognized Native American Tribes, has requested volunteer clinical staff to support the care of patients admitted to their facilities amidst the COVID pandemic, which has overextended the capacity of the Nation’s hospital and public health system.

The team will specifically be working with the Chinle Comprehensive Care Facility in Chinle, AZ, which has experienced a high volume of patients as a result of the COVID pandemic.  Longtime GDRHA partner organization, Project HOPE, has been working with the IHS and the Chinle facility since March to allow the deployment of non-local clinical staff to the site. On behalf of IHS, Project HOPE requested the support of MGH nurses experienced in the care of COVID-19 patients to assist in addressing this crisis.

The MGH team consists of four experienced nursing staff who will be deployed for 10-14 days beginning June 17.  They include Team Lead and Director of Global Disaster Response and Humanitarian Action Lindsey Martin, NP (Surgical Intensive Care Unit) Jennifer Samiotes, RN (Pediatric Intensive Care Unit), Mary Sebert, RN, MPH (Center for Global Health), and Skeeter Welder, RN (Medical Intensive Care Unit).

Kristen Giambusso, Deputy Director of GDRHA explains: “The COVID-19 crisis in the Navajo Nation underscores the economic and social inequalities that have afflicted the Nation long before the pandemic took hold. It is a privilege for GDR to be able to lend our resources in the form of skilled nursing staff during this time of need. Mass General Brigham has a history of work in this and other Native communities to not only provide temporary relief, but to build sustained programs for clinical support, teaching and training, and improved resources.”

Global Disaster Response and Humanitarian Action at the MGH Center for Global Health is committed to providing well-trained personnel and resources to immediately respond to a full spectrum of humanitarian—natural or man-made—emergencies in coordination with local authorities. As a center of excellence in disaster preparedness and response, GDR leverages the multi-disciplinary expertise of MGH to deliver timely, high-level care to people affected by disasters and humanitarian emergencies.

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