Farmworkers receive health care services

Published 4:58 pm Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Thanks to the Georgia Farmworkers Health Program, farmworkers and their families from Decatur, Grady, Thomas, Seminole and Mitchell counties were able to receive health care services free of charge from June 13-18.

The Georgia Farmworker Health Program in Decatur County is part of a statewide Farmworker Health Project, under the Department of Community Health and Office of Rural Health Services, which, in turn, is affiliated with a national farmworker health program.

Two projects are conducted annually, the six-day Summer Project and the three-day Fall Project in October. They are coordinated with growers during peak planting, harvesting and packing seasons to reach the greatest number of clients.

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Once again this year, students and faculty from the Physician Assistant (PA) Program at Emory University in Atlanta participated in the Summer Project. Other participants include local churches, growers, dental care providers, civic clubs and volunteer organizations, which donate time, services and goods.

The summer program has also received grant funding from the American Cancer Society.

The Emory students chart medical histories and provide physical exams, and physicians are also on-site for consultations during the event.

In addition, participants receive dental screenings; screenings for vital signs, glucose and hemoglobin levels; and education about sun exposure, cancer, hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, dental hygiene and sexually transmitted disease.

“By providing much needed health care services to migrant workers and their families, we are improving the health status of one of our most vulnerable populations. Doing so strengthens our entire community,” said Southwest Health District Farmworker Health Program Director Shelia Ramer. “During these health care visits, we screen for communicable and chronic diseases and provide treatment as needed to ensure the health of those who grow and handle our food.”