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Tribally directed videos inform, empower, celebrate, foster resilience amid COVID-19

OHSU, tribal partners, Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board collaborated to make seven videos
A man crouches down in front of a wall with the word “resilience” painted on it in bold lettering.
The OHSU Northwest Native American Center of Excellence, its tribal partners and the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board worked together to produce culturally nuanced content to mitigate misinformation and offering solutions during the pandemic. Here is a screenshot from the projects seventh and final public service announcement video, titled Resilience. (OHSU Northwest Native American Center of Excellence)

Oregon Health & Science University’s Northwest Native American Center of Excellence has concluded a series of public service announcements about the impact of COVID-19 in tribal communities, with what the production team called “our love letter to you, our community.”

The seventh and final short video celebrates the resilience of Native people amid the hardship of this past year.

A man with a pulled-back pony tail looks down and places his hand on his chest as he speaks.
Erick Brodt, M.D.

We focus on resilience as a way to recognize the incredible strength and perseverance of tribal communities amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Erik Brodt, M.D., associate professor of family medicine, OHSU School of Medicine, and director of the center. “We continue to encourage community members to channel their perseverance toward protecting their knowledge keepers, families and communities. We have come a long way in improving vaccination rates and must remain steadfast in ensuring the vaccine is available to those hit hardest by the coronavirus."

The center received a CARES Act grant last summer to address the impact of COVID-19 in tribal communities across Oregon, Idaho and Washington. The center already had been working with tribal partners and the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board to produce culturally nuanced content aimed at mitigating misinformation and offering solutions to protect communities.

The team’s first public service announcement – Exercising Safe Sweats – received more than 50,000 views nationwide. Their second service announcement, which was the first to be produced with CARES Act funds and was titled Brothers, explored the topic of loneliness and isolation during COVID-19, and showed how two brothers stay safely connected.

The remaining videos are:

  • Our World: relaying the importance of routine childhood vaccinations, speaking to vaccine safety at a timely moment as the COVID-19 vaccine was rolling out.
  • Traditional Practices: recognizes Indigenous people for doing their part to keep community members safe.
  • COVID Vaccine Q&A: features Native physicians and health care providers offering clear, factual information about the vaccines to support decision making.
  • Mask up: shares the importance of continuing to wear face masks and practice other safety protocols as the vaccine rolls out.
  • Resilience: a thank you to tribal community members for protecting the culture and way of life.

All of the videos are available at www.nnacoe.org/stories, and on the center’s and its partners’ social media accounts.

In addition to the digital health education campaign, the CARES Act grant funded:

  • An assessment of tribal health workforce vacancies and access to care for tribal people during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Epidemiological research into COVID-19 morbidity and mortality in American Indians and Alaska Natives.

“This project supports the health of Native communities and demonstrates to others how to create culturally relevant public health messaging at a time when we are finally beginning to illuminate the inadequate care of our communities that has persisted over generations,” said Brodt.

The Northwest Native American Center of Excellence’s mission is to sustainably address the health care needs of all people by increasing the number of American Indian/Alaskan Natives in the U.S. health professions workforce.

They do this by inspiring Native youth to nurture their identity as future healers, preparing the Native health leaders of tomorrow and creating an Indigenous learning community for Natives to ascend in medicine. A marquis offering of the center is the Wy’East Post-baccalaureate Pathway, a culturally specific curriculum that prepares American Indian and Alaska Native students to succeed in medical school.

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