Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker, Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden and W.W. Hastings Hospital CEO Brian Hail welcome back Cmdr. Dana Hayworth at a reception March 2.
TAHLEQUAH, OKLAHOMA — After spending nearly two months in West Africa helping fight the Ebola virus, Cherokee citizen and registered nurse Dana Hayworth returned to work at the Cherokee Nation this week. The tribe’s W.W. Hastings Hospital staff held a reception to welcome her back.
Hayworth, of Claremore, is a commander for the U.S. Public Health Service and volunteered to serve in Liberia, one of the most severely affected countries in West Africa. She spent 59 days between December and February with the Monrovia Medical Unit, providing clinical care for health care workers who may have contracted the Ebola disease while fighting it.
She provided IV hydration, medication, blood products and nutrition to workers on the front line.
“Going to Liberia was a rare chance to experience a different country and culture, while at the same time being part of the U.S. Public Health Service’s worldwide effort to contain Ebola,” Hayworth said. “Like our Native people, the Liberian people have a lot of strong ties to culture, customs, family and community. They took care of each other. It was awesome to see their resiliency in the face of this horrible disease.”
Ebola spreads through human-to-human contact, with an average fatality rate of 50 percent. Symptoms range from sudden fever, fatigue and muscle pain to impaired kidney and liver function, according to the World Health Organization.
Hayworth returned to Oklahoma in early February and spent 21 days at home with limited contact before returning to work March 2.
Hayworth has been employed by Hastings Hospital for 10 years and works in the occupational therapy department.
“We’re very glad to have Dana back safely, and we’re looking forward to putting her back to work and implementing some of the things she learned in Liberia,” said W.W. Hastings CEO Brian Hail. “We can’t train our staff on the types of conditions she was working in, so the experiences and the knowledge base that she has brought back to us is invaluable for working with people in a truly underserved population.”
Hayworth plans to use her firsthand experience by preparing the Cherokee Nation on steps to fight Ebola in the chance that the virus should ever reach northeast Oklahoma.
Hayworth was also joined by two other Cherokee citizens working in the Monrovia Medical Unit. Cherokee Nation citizens Lt. Cmdr. Julie Erb-Alvarez, an epidemiologist out of the U.S. Public Health Service Oklahoma City area office, and Capt. Kevin Brooks, a pharmacist from White River, Arizona, played key roles in the unit as well.
The U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Commissioned Corps is an elite uniformed service with more than 6,800 full-time, highly qualified public health professionals, serving the most underserved and vulnerable populations domestically and abroad.
The U.S. Public Health Service is one of the seven uniformed services and is the only committed to protecting, promoting and advancing the health and safety of the nation. Officers often serve on the front lines in public health emergency and crisis situations both foreign and domestic including 9/11, Anthrax attacks, the 2010 Haiti earthquake and Superstorm Sandy.