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'Unseen folks in the hallway': Support staff at Flagstaff Medical Center an essential piece

When Chyna-mae Sablan, a nutrition assistant at Flagstaff Medical Center, exits the hospital through the kitchen, she always looks to the ground and smiles.

Outside the door is a rock on which someone painted the words “you rock.” It’s a small thing to celebrate, Sablan admits, but when times are tough, she believes people have to look for the things that make them happy, no matter how tiny.

Sablan is one of many essential workers who spends their shifts at the Flagstaff hospital making sure patients are fed, rooms are clean and medical technology is humming soundly. Many of these essential workers are working more shifts because the fear of the virus is causing higher turnover. At work they have to don the full-body protective suits and enter COVID-19 containment units just like doctors and nurses. Many of them are working without salary and without university training on how viruses and diseases spread.

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