Reports: IHS Nurse Shortage; Navajo Social Services Burial Assistance, Funding DV Shelters & Senior Centers goes before Navajo Council Health, Educaton & Human Services Committee, 10 am, 1.11.22

Greetings Relatives/Frens/Humans, I will be providing real time news reporting on the Navajo Nation Council’s Health, Education & Human Services Committee meeting at 10 am (MST) today, 1.11.22. i will be posting on my FB page,, and then I will post here on my Blog, Marley Shebala’s Notebook.

Ahe’hee for Keeping an Eye on Navajo Government. May Peace Prevail on Mother Earth!

It is now 10:34 am, 1.11.22, and Navajo Council Health, Education & Human Services Committee member Edison Wauneka informed the HEHS Committee that the Annie Wauneka Life Care centers, a senior citizens housing, retirement community in Ganado, Arizona, has Closed. The HEHS Committee will be adding a Report from the Annie Wauneka Life Care Center to its agenda tomorow, 1.12.22.

It is now 10:45 am, 1.11.22, and NAVAJO AREA IHS DIRECTOR ROSELYN TSO reported:
Give update that priorities continue to be vaccine and booster, wear appropriate masks, not recommending cloth masks, social distance. Past three weeks monitoring staff cuz huge challenge to us, like across the country.
Daily cases and omicron cases here on Navajo and cases, 73 employees HIS test positive for COVID.
Hospital busy and as losing staff, pivoting to make sure enough staff at hospital.
Discussions on Health Care Standards especially with staff being called out and so need to reassign staff.
In sept. 2021, Navajo Area HIS Nursing Director Melissa Wyaco reviewed every site and leading recruitment and retention for nurses and where to be for all hospitals.
National nurse shortage. Current vacancy rate of 42percent, 108 nursing 465 RN filled. 343 vacancies and using nursing contracts to supplement vacancies. 142 nurses to supplement especially in emergency and ICU. And competing with Albuquerque and Zuni hospitals for emergency room staff.
We have been using IHS 2021 Nursing Salary and got pay increase. We also offer relocation incentives. Short term plan is advertise in local newspapers, nursing magazines, social media. Also looking at LPNs to help.
Had to invest in marketing strategies to compete. With increase in nursing salary have hired from Navajo Area. Each service unit recruiting actively and then supplement with contract nurses.
147 nurses test positive with COVID and that a challenge when looking at nursing shortage at each hospital.
ROSELYN TSO reports:
More than 1200 as of this morning.
Lat three days 73 test positive and expect to grow for Navajo IHS
When looking at Loss of Life, I will check on.
There has always been nursing shortage on and off Navajo Nation.
We have to monitor PPEs daily for staff. I am very concerned for staff. Little help from New Mexico and Gallup Indian hospital helped with some nurses. Expect numbers to grown.
For Chinle, had Arizona help with hospital staff. Looking at increasing cases and shortage until March.
Need ICU nurses.
Cost of Nurses always looking at. Clearly in millions of dollars when talking about hiring and retaining nurses.
Case of Omicron and remember in sequencing, we don’t send out all tests but whether related to holiday gathering, we know Omicron on Navajo Nation so that is how we are planning.
We are looking at hospitals to track. Gallup numbers are a bit scary. Challenge for us is what to evaluate. Know high case numbers so looking at hospital capacity and staff. Hospital are already busy and today we are still holding our own.
One hospital closed because we needed to have patients transferred.

It is now 10:58 am, 1.11.22, and HEHS member Paul Begay asking about Test Kits for people, such as public servant, who have to travel to attend meetings. Some Delgates will be driving to Phoenix to attend Tribal Leaders Meeting tomorrow, 1.12.22. Self testing should be available so feel assured when return to family or hotel room.
Asking that all hospitals and chapters have sufficient Test Kits. Nationally, test kits difficult to find. Shipment to Navajo Area IHS Delayed first of January but have. I can work with Speaker’s Office to deliver Test Kits from Navajo Area IHS to Speaker’s Office.

It is now 11:05 am, 1.11.22, and IHS Nursing Director MELLISSA WYACO responds to HEHS Chair Daniel Tso’s questions about What Are the Symptoms of Omicron & How can People get Tested. Wyaco says IHS is telling people who want to be tested and can’t, to stay home. Omicron virus is almost as common as cold so look for runny nose, sore throat, not feeling well, feeling tired and haven’t felt these symptoms before. But difficult to determine if COVID or Omicron. Also use hand gels. Wash your hands. Know winter and cold out there so helps to open window a bit to circulate air.

It is now 11:10 am, 1.11.22, and IHS Nursing Director MELLISSA WYACO is informing the HEHS that all the hospitals on the Navajo Nation can vaccinate children ages 5 years to 12 years.

It is now 11:15 am, 1.11.22, and other federally funded Hospitals and health clinics on the Navajo Nation provide Reports to HEHS:

Vacancy rate of 38%. Have nurses from FEMA, Arizona Surge. Five respiratory staff from Az Surge. Fortunate to have that help.
We are doing Testing on Weekend so don’t get overwhelmed.
Cost for contracting nurses and respiratory therapists tripled. We have increased benefits for nurses and anyone working with COVID paitents.
70 staff called in. today 69. 337 positive and 10% repeats.
Enough PPEs. Have everyone double mask. Changed N95 masks for Emergency. Regular staff wear cloth and paper masks. No more urgent care surgeries due to Omicron. Heard 90% of tests are Omicron positive. During Xmas, four Omicron from Tuba City. Went form 10 percent to 22 percent positives so seeing surge and started three weeks ago. Seeing in community and staff. And staff getting infected. 100 percent of staff vaccinated. And most have boosters.

FEMA really helped with 5 to 11 year olds and vaccinations and booster.
We are looking at triple contract staff costs.
We are hoping to keep adequate hospital staff. We have not seen increase and demand for vaccinations. We have drive up testing which has increased.
At 80 to 85 percent for inpatient. Asking for additional contractors.

Currently have 20 doctor positions. 4.5 vacancies, 22.5 percent vacancy rate. Have 50 percent vacancy rate for nurse practioners. End of month, 50 percent podiatry vacancy.
We are working on Dilkon Medical Center and demand for medical staff is a challenge especially with COVID and Omicron. Haven’t recruited anyone for Dilkon.
We are all experiencing nurse shortage and growing at alarming rate in hospitals and medical facilities across the Navajo Nation.
Nursing has 21 vacancies. 3 nursing assistants on leave due to COVID. We are hurting. We have retention bonuses. And contracting has increased, but making sure that staff adequately compensated.
We have 30 staff members out and really impacting us. FEMA is helping. We really need to come together because COVID and Omicron everywhere. We have closed satellite health clinics. Ribbon cutty for Dilkon medical center is March 1.

It is now 11:40 am, 1.11.22, and HEHS listing to report from BYRON CLARK, Montezuma and Blanding Medical Clinics.
When started, low 30s and high teens in vacancy rates. We have improved cuz about keeping mental health strong, spend lot on rewards. Past eight years, vacancy rate of less than 10%. Nursing vacancies at 5%. Board support nursing programs. Asked about administrative costs but those are rewards for staff and most goes to mental health. Also Housing offered in remote sites. Built modular homes for about $120,000. $25,000 to $50,000 bonuses expensive so built housing as Bonus. Run under $200,000 now and not fancy but doctors comfortable.

Ms Edison from Ganado Hospital
288 employees and most vaccinated and booster. 93% vaccination rate at Sage Memorial. Struggle with nursing and hospital staff shortage especially now with COVID. No assistance from FEMA and Arizona Surge. Added to Contact Tracing Team cuz seeing increase. Two weeks ago about ten positive but now 50 to 100 positive.
Working with area schools. Check on them. Provide home testing kits for employees. Donated some Home Testing Kits to Chapter if can’t get to hospital or testing events. Vaccinations every Wednesday, 2-5 pm, and taking five years old and older.
Having difficulties with transferring emergency patients.

It is now 11:52 am, 1.11.22, and Health, Education and Human Services Committee Chairman Daniel Tso says Legislative Branch is closed due to COVID and so it would be good to share information about Legislative Branch positive cases, test results, etc.

WAYNE CLAW, Annie Wauneka Life Center, Ganado, Az.
As of today, we are experiencing nursing shortage over past three years due to lack of funding. Closed visiting due to increasing cases. Had two staff positive, tested outside, sent home. Short of PPEs cuz getting expensive. All the elders received flue shots and staff too. No staff on leave due to covid. We have apartments and don’t charge much. Some nurse here for more than 19 years. Need health insurance.
By grace of God, we have no elders that have tested positive.

It is now 12:09 pm, 1.11.22, and NAVAJO AREA IHS Wyaco tells HEHS Committee:
12780 TEST kits provided to Navajo Nation or patients
5-12 years: 18,335 vaccinated. 3,702 needs second booster.

It is now 12:15 pm, 1.11.22, and HEHS member Paul Begay makes Motion, Edison Wauneka second. HEHS Committee Chairman Daniel Tso asks everyone who made a Report to the HEHS to submit report in writing because Arizona legislature has two bills for students to pursue careers in nursing.
The HEHS committee votes 4 in favor, zero opposed on Report from IHS and other hospitals, health facilities, and senor care centers on Nursing Shortage on Navajo Nation.

Jan. 11, 2022, 10 AM
PRESIDING : Honorable Daniel E. Tso, Chairperson, Honorable Carl R. Slater, Vice-Chairperson
PLACE : Via Telecommunications: Call-In Number: 1-669-900-6833 MTG ID: 979-985-0956, Passcode: 86515

Livestream will be available online at:
NNC Facebook:

Window Rock, Navajo Nation (AZ)
[ ] Paul Begay, Jr. [ ] Charlaine Tso
[ ] Pernell Halona [ ] Daniel E. Tso
[ ] Carl R. Slate [ ] Edison J. Wauneka

    m: s: v: not voting:
    A. Report: Navajo Area Indian Health Service
    ➢ Shortages of Nurses and Healthcare providers on the Navajo Nation.
    ➢ Short-term and long-term plans to address health personnel shortages.
    Presenters: Roselyn Tso, Area Director; Marquis Yazzie, Director Office of Indian Self-Determination, Navajo Area Indian Health Service
    m: s: v: not voting:
    B. Update: Shonto Preparatory School
    ➢ Shonto Preparatory School Operations
    Presenter: Melanie Dewakuku, Interim Superintendent Shonto Preparatory Schools
    Available for Presentation:
    Mr. Darrick Franklin, Educational Program Manager and Ms. Lavida Maestas, Senior Education Specialist, Office of Dine’Accountability and Compliance (ODAC); Dr. Harold Begay, Superintendent of Schools, DODE
    m: s: v: not voting:
    C. Report / Updates: NN Division of Social Services
    ➢ Status of COVID related Burial Assistance
    ➢ Update on Funding Distribution to Domestic Violence Shelters
    ➢ Update on Negotiation on Meals and Transportation Rates for Senior Citizen Centers.
    Presenters: Deannah Nezwood-Gishey, Executive Director Division of Social Services; Marlinda Littleman, Deputy Director Navajo Division of Social Services; Regina Yazzie, Department Manager III for Department of Family Services.
    m: s: v: not voting:
    m: s: v: Not Voting:
    THIS AGENDA SUBJECT TO CHANGE: The public is advised that the Navajo Nation Council Agenda and the Agendas of the Standing Committees are not final until adopted by a majority vote of the Navajo Nation Council or the Standing Committees at a Navajo Nation Council or a Standing Committee meeting pursuant to 2 N.N.C. §§163 and 183, Navajo Nation Council Rule of Order No. 7, and Standing Rule of Order No. 8.

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