A team of doctors and nurses from the University of California, San Francisco is on the ground in the Navajo Nation to help Native American physicians deal with one of the country’s worst documented surges of COVID-19.
Five years ago, KCBS Radio profiled UCSF Dr. Sriram Shamasunder when he founded the HEAL Initiative, a global health fellowship that trains doctors from underserved areas to go work in underserved areas.
Forty-nine of those UCSF fellows live and work on the vast Navajo Nation that sprawls across northern Arizona and New Mexico.
Now, they’re overwhelmed by a coronavirus surge and Dr. Shamasunderwhen is leading a team of seven doctors and 14 nurses from UCSF who have gone there to help.
"Founders of this community often have the oral history of the community that gets passed down generation after generation," Dr. Shamasunder said."If COVID takes out that generation, which there’s so much nervousness, anxiety and that has happened to some degree. Then the stories, the oral history, the culture, the spirituality, how does that get transferred to the younger generation?"
The Navajo Nation has over 1,300 cases and 70 deaths.
Per capita, that’s the third hardest hit region in the country after New York and New Jersey.