Cherokee Nation citizen works COVID-19 frontlines in Washington
Cherokee Nation citizen Ashley Nevitt is dressed in personal protective equipment on her job as an emergency room registered nurse at Swedish Emergency Room-Mill Creek in Everett, Washington. She is contracted as a traveling nurse and began her job at the same time COVID-19 made its way across the United States. COURTESY
EVERETT, Wash. – Cherokee Nation citizen Ashley Nevitt has been an emergency room registered nurse for the past three years, and recently took on a new venture as a traveling nurse.
The Muskogee, Oklahoma, native worked at CN W.W. Hastings Hospital in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, before deciding to travel. She said she wanted to see what the world offered.
Nevitt contracted a job in Everett at Swedish Emergency Room-Mill Creek for 13 weeks, just as COVID-19 began making its way across the United States.
Since January, she has been on the frontlines in one of the states hardest hit by the virus.
“I came to Washington right when this pandemic started, and Washington as a state was hit the hardest in the beginning. That was difficult for me to adjust to since I, as a nurse, have never experienced anything like this,” she said.
Nevitt said she follows hospital protocol as potential COVID-19 positive patients come through the ER. “If a patient comes in for possible COVID-19, I make sure I have my PPE (personal protective equipment) on before I interact with this patient and keep it on the entire time that patient is under my care. Also, spending limited time in that patient’s room and limiting the amount of time I go in and out of that patient’s room.”
Nevitt said she also takes precautions when she gets home or goes out in public.
“I make sure to remove my shoes as soon as I get home from work and wipe them down. Then I put my scrubs in the washing machine and take a shower,” she said. “If I go to the grocery store or anywhere in public, I wear a mask and carry Clorox wipes with me to sanitize anything I touch.”
Since living in Washington, she said it’s hard not seeing her family in Oklahoma.
“My family still lives in Oklahoma while I’m completing my contract here in Washington,” Nevitt said. “Even if I could see my family today, I would be saying hi to them at a distance. With how much I am exposed to this virus, I wouldn’t want to risk getting them sick.”
She said in Washington most businesses are closed to the public except for essential businesses such as grocery stores and pharmacies, and the state’s “stay at home” policy seems to be effective.
“Even our national and state parks are closed, which makes it hard for people living here because this is the season to be outdoors and enjoying what this state has to offer,” she said. “Although people are getting restless staying inside, our numbers are going down as far as diagnoses of COVID-19, and even the death toll is going down. Clearly staying inside is helping, and we need to keep implementing that until this is over.”
As someone who works in the medical field and has the seen firsthand how the virus functions, she advises people to stay inside. “I know this is a scary time. A lot of us are frustrated that we can’t do the things we want to do. The best thing for us to stay healthy is by staying inside. Keep those who have to go to work and risk being exposed safe.”