Jason Duterte leaving Navajo Mountain after four years as area’s medical provider

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Jason Duterte NP with UNHS has served the people of Navajo Mountain for the past four years but now he’s decided it’s time to move on to another challenge. He is moving to the bay area of California to be closer to his family and pursue another professional opportunity.      Staff photo

 After four years as the Nurse Practioner at the UNHS Navajo Mountain Community Health Center Jason Duterte has decided it’s time to move on to a new professional challenge.

  Duterte joined the UNHS family in 2015 and made the transition from big city urbanite to country doctor, moving from the New York City borough of Manhattan to Navajo Mountain. But over the past four years Jason has become one of the family at Navajo Mountain and now loves the people and the community. Even his own family came to enjoy visiting Navajo Mountain and spent extended visits there. His mother visited two weeks ago, and prepared food for a large, community farewell lunch for her son. She returned with his sister this week to help Jason move. His last day was today, Thursday, March 21. He said his father loved the area, too, because it reminded him of the Louis L’Amour and Zane Grey westerns he loved to read.

  Jason’s new home will be in San Lorenzo, California in the Golden State’s bay area. He will live with his mother and sister; in a house his sister bought about the time Jason began working at Navajo Mountain. He will be working in Hayward, California, in a federally qualified health clinic, housed in an old fire station. He said it is known as the Fire House Clinic. When asked about the commute time in the city, compared to his current commute, Jason said his new address, in San Lorenzo, is only five minutes from his new clinic as compared to 37 steps from his current residence to the Navajo Mountain Clinic. 

  “I’ve counted the steps,” he laughed.

  Jason said he has enjoyed his time at Navajo Mountain and added that he has gained a ‘lifetime of memories’ he can share with friends and family. He can share stories about actually making house calls to patients in Navajo Mountain, being befriended by a local Medicine Man, who invited him to a Squaw Dance (he said he didn’t go), having a Highway Patrolman give him a warning instead of a ticket because he felt sorry for him, having to move to Navajo Mountain.

 “Now I drive just a little above the speed limit,” Jason smiles. “My family says I drive too slow.”

  During his time in Navajo Mountain Jason has spent his Fridays working at the Inscription House Clinic, in Arizona, where he provides continuing care for his Arizona patients. He said he will remember making chicken runs to Kaibeto, Arizona, to purchase ‘Charlie’s Chicken’. He will also miss weekends in Page, Arizona and the times at Wal-Mart, when he consulted with patients he saw there, or being called ‘Navajo Mountain Man’ at Starbucks.

  “Being here gives me bragging rights over my friends. When we were in school we talked about working in remote and exotic places. I did that,” Jason said. “It might not be exotic, but this is a different culture. I would tell them to come visit.”

  Jason said he’s enjoyed the peace and quiet of Navajo Mountain. He’s enjoyed the staff and all the people of the community.

  “I have no regrets,” he stressed. “This has been a great learning experience. I have no regrets about moving from the city. I didn’t expect this environment when I joined UNHS but it has been great.”

  Despite his great experience with UNHS, the people and staff at Navajo Mountain, Jason said it’s time he moved closer to his mother and family. He also admitted too much peace and quiet can be too much. He said he looks forward to not having a two-hour trip to the market and having more restaurants and choices of cuisine in his new home. The native of Cebu City, Philippines, and a great cook in his own right, said he looks forward to having Asian and Philippine markets around the block from his home. And although he realizes his staff and weekly visitors to the Navajo Mountain Clinic, including the pilot who flies UNHS staff into the area, will miss his weekly lunches, he looks forward to his new digs in Hayward.

  “I really appreciate being welcome into the Navajo Mountain community and I’m very grateful to the people here. UNHS is a great company and I’ve really enjoyed being part of it,” Jason said. When asked if there is anything he’s learned during his time at Navajo Mountain, he added, “Go with the flow. Keep an open mind and don’t judge the people of Navajo Mountain by New York standards.”

  We will miss Jason Duterte and we wish him well in his new endeavor. However, don’t be surprised if you see him return from time to time to his adopted home at Navajo Mountain. He said he might have to bring his mom for a visit. 

  “They told me I’d be welcome back any time. So I’ll be back,” he said.