Farm worker program coming

Published 3:31 pm Tuesday, June 7, 2011

From Saturday, June 11, to Thursday, June 16, volunteers from health care organizations, institutions of higher learning, ministries and service organizations will work with area growers to provide services aimed at improving the health status of farm workers and their families.

The collaborative effort requires lengthy planning and complicated logistics, since participating healthcare providers travel from as far as Atlanta and healthcare screenings are conducted in mobile facilities typically moved twice daily, said Southwest Public Health District Farm Worker Health Program Director Shelia Ramer.

“The Georgia Farm Worker Health Program in Decatur County is part of a statewide Farm Worker Health Project, under the Department of Community Health, Office of Rural Health Services, which, in turn, is affiliated with a national farm worker health program,” said Southwest Health District Health Director Dr. Jacqueline Grant. “There are two Farm Worker Health Projects conducted annually, the Summer Project in June and the Fall Project in October,” she said. “They are coordinated with growers during peak planting, harvesting and packing seasons to reach the greatest number of patients.”

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Participating in this year’s project are faculty and physician staff from the Emory University Physicians’ Assistants Program; Bowen Baptist Dental Ministry; Southwest Georgia Area Health Education Center (SOWEGA AHEC); the Bainbridge College Licensed Practical Nurse Program and faculty; Georgia Farm Worker Program staff and advisory board; and numerous churches and service organizations, Ramer said.

“The logistics involved in setting up, taking down and moving equipment, personnel, material and dental and medical instruments to the populations we serve is amazing,” Ramer said. “Meals have to be coordinated for the providers. We need to have interpreters on hand. Without donations and volunteers we would not be able to provide medications and services to those in need.”

Services provided at the screening sites include vital signs; glucose screening; dental and oral screening; health screening by a physician assistant student and associated faculty member; body-mass-index screening; prescriptions for appropriate medications; physical therapy if appropriate and dental hygiene items.

Tentative schedule

The following is the tentative schedule. On Saturday, June 11, in the morning is team orientation, and in the afternoon at Davis Camp in Attapulgus; on the afternon of Sunday, June 12, at Jamestown Apartments; Monday, June 13, in the morning at Garjulio Field, and in the afternoon at Charlie Motel and Lady Moon Farms; Tuesday, June 14, in the morning at Murray Farms, and in the afternoon Dukes Camp; June 15, in the morning at Garjulio Field and in the afternoon at FWP Clinic; Thursday, June 16, in the morning at Migrant School and El Camino Baptist Church, and in the afternoon at Pacific Tomato Camp.

“The individuals and organizations volunteering their time, expertise and resources to this endeavor are improving the health status of a vulnerable population. That in turn strengthens our entire community,” said Grant.