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Alternative care site readied to cope with COVID-19 resurgence

At a time when COVID-19 numbers are on the rise on the Navajo Nation, the Chinle Community Center in Chinle, Ariz. has been called into service as an isolation site for individuals who test positive for the coronavirus, in order to help reduce and prevent the spread of the virus among Navajo Nation members.

On Oct. 6 the Navajo Nation Office of the President and Vice President listed 17 new cases of the virus and one more death. The day before that, there were 11 new cases. Oct. 4 saw 19 new cases and one death, Oct. 3 had 17 new cases and Oct. 2 had 34 new cases and two recent deaths on the Navajo Nation.

While there were at least two days over the past week that had no reports of recent deaths, the numbers are climbing again.

Vice President Myron Lizer, who visited the Chinle Community Center Oct. 5, said isolation is an important component of healing the community.

“When the Navajo Nation is dealt a virus that impacts multi-generational homes, the isolation of positive COVID-19 patients is essential to reduce the spread of the virus,” Lizer stated. “Our Navajo citizens can utilize this 50-bed facility to recover from the virus. Our Nation’s goal is to bring the daily positive cases to zero.”

Lizer visited with Navajo Department of Health Executive Director Dr. Jill Jim at the Chinle facility which features four nursing stations to cover each aisle of the 50 isolation units with hospital beds, a single sitting-chair oxygen tank, trash can, hygiene care packages that include a surgical face mask, medical examination gloves, hand sanitizers, and disinfecting towelettes for patients.

A triage area with a newly built ramp will allow for intake and departure of patients.

There is also a designated space for rehabilitation for COVID-19 patients to participate in physical activities while in isolation.

Patients will be fed, showered, cared for and monitored during their isolation time. Board games have been included for the patients during their recovery.

Medication is accessible for patients’ use and doctors will be available at the facility.

PAE, a company working with the Navajo Dept. of Health is serving as the joint logistics and medical integrator for the Nation’s COVID-19 response. It will assist in operating the Alternative Care Site.