September 14, 2018 | Staff Stories
Do you believe that all people can make the world a better place? Tyrrell Wagner, a medical assistant at our Baseline Clinic, is on a mission to give back to his community in Low Mountain, a small community in northeastern Arizona’s Navajo Nation.
Home Sweet Home
Growing up on the reservation kept Tyrrell and his sisters very busy. From household chores to taking care of three dogs, a horse, and a few sheep, there was always something to do.
“My dad was the type of person who would put you to work if he ever heard you saying: ‘I’m bored,’” he remembered. “There were times when my father would take my sisters and I into the forest to get firewood for our home and our grandparents’ home. Most of the houses on the reservation still use firewood stoves to provide warmth.”
As a child, Tyrrell remembers how difficult it was to get to school. Tyrrell and his sisters had to wake up every morning at 5 a.m. to shower and get ready for their hour-long bus ride. When weather conditions were bad because of excessive rain or snow, the trip to school was much longer.
“I remember the times I had to get up extra early just to heat up my bath water on the wood burning stove,” Tyrrell recalled. “It was either that or take a cold bath before school.”
During the summer time, Tyrrell and his family had to haul out as much wood as possible to prepare for winter. “There were times when we still had to make the trip to get wood for the cold winters,” he remembered. “For a Navajo it is a typical need to survive.”
Medical Career Meets Passion
In 2009, Tyrrell and his family moved to Phoenix because his mom enrolled in school to get a medical assistant certification. Shortly after, Tyrrell followed in her footsteps. He hopes to one day go back to school and get a medical license as nurse practitioner or physician assistant.
Someday, he would like to work for Indian Health Services to improve the health of his community.
“As a Native American in the medical field, I understand the western medicine as well as traditional medicine,” he shared. “In our community, you must believe in both medicines if you want to be healthy. For this reason, I will be able to improve the quality of life of my community.”
Indian Health Services is an agency responsible for providing healthcare to Native American Tribes and Alaska Natives. Its funding, however, is minimal. Consequently, significant gaps in care have been generated in areas like the Navajo Nation. The healthcare facilities are limited and don’t have the capacity to provide the healthcare needs of the Navajo community.
“Where I come from, the medical first response is almost nonexistent. If you need medical help, it takes two hours for the medical responders to arrive,” Tyrrell shared. “We have lost many members of our community because help was never there on time.”
Falling in Love with Mountain Park
Before joining the Mountain Park family, Tyrrell used to work at an urgent care facility where he referred patients to us.
“I always told myself that one day I would work at Mountain Park,” he mentioned. “What attracted me to Mountain Park was the mission of giving back to the community. I love being able to help our patients, and the patients appreciated that help. Seeing their faces light up makes my day. I also love that we honor diversity and inclusion. It’s nice to come to work and not be judged for who I am.”
Mountain Park aims to provide the best resources to keep our staff healthy. With that mindset we are able to provide the best care possible to our patients.
“The wellness program, the benefits, and support from our managers makes me feel comfortable and happy here,” he shared. “I tell people to apply and work for Mountain Park. No other place I’ve worked has encouraged their employees to focus on their health as well as the health of the patient.”
A Tough Choice to Make
Earlier this year, Tyrrell decided to leave Mountain Park for a new opportunity. Four months later, he returned because he missed his work family.
“Honestly, leaving Mountain Park was one of the hardest choices I have made in my career,” he shared. “The reason being is I love my job.”
While at his new position, he knew he wasn’t in the right place and he needed to come back.
“I heard this saying once, ‘Surround yourself with those on the same mission as you…’ I feel like here we all share the same mission, to give back to our communities, and that is why I am proud to be a part of working here and why I chose to come back.”
Tyrell is always encouraging patients to come to their appointments, explaining to them how important it is to be healthy and take care of their family.
“I’ll let our patients know how we strive to provide them with the healthcare they need,” Tyrrell added.
Thank you, Tyrrell, for helping us achieve our mission of keeping our communities healthy. We are excited to see you reach your goals. You can do it!