OLATHE, KS (KCTV) -- An Olathe doctor says he is in the belly of the beast fighting COVID-19 on the Navajo Nation in Gallup, New Mexico. The people of the Navajo Nation are experiencing one of the highest infection rates in the country and it keeps climbing.
On Thursday, KCTV5’s Emily Rittman spoke with the founder of the COVID Care Force about a plea for nurses and doctors to volunteer to travel to New Mexico.
Dr. Gary Morsch, who also founded Heart to Heart International, is hundreds of miles away helping families who live on the Navajo Nation. He needs nurses and doctors from the KC metro and around the country to assist on the front lines.
“It's still on the rise here and that's the frightening thing because we don't know where this is going to end,” Dr. Morsch said. “It's like a perfect storm out here.”
Dr. Gary Morsch sent KCTV5 photos of the first teams of doctors and nurses from the metro volunteering on the Navajo Nation.
Morsch said they have about 15 ventilators for the entire nation. The area’s largest hospital has just six ICU beds.
“Right now, they're facing the greatest threat that's ever hit them,” he said. “They are desperate for volunteers.”
Dr. Morsch said the virus spread quickly to families in multigenerational houses with eight to15 people living inside one home. At last check, the Navajo Department of Health reported more than 3,300 positive cases and 119 confirmed deaths.
“Some of them don't have running water, so how can you wash your hands if you don't have running water?” Dr. Morsch said.
Tribal leaders and members of the COVID Care Force are requesting 150 nurses, 50 doctors, and 10 respiratory therapists to volunteer to meet immediate needs. Transportation and housing are provided.
“These are our first Americans,” Dr. Morsch said. “This is the time for us to come and say, you know, ‘We'll come and fight this battle with you.’ So, it's just kind of an inspiring place to be. It's sacred.”
If you would like to volunteer with COVID Care Force, you may do so here.
Those who are unable to volunteer but still want to help the mission can