Emory University students assess health of migrant workers

Published 9:03 am Wednesday, June 15, 2022

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Hundreds of students from Emory University School of Medicine visited Decatur Oaks on Thursday afternoon as part of the Emory Farmworker Project. During this project, the clinical students provide free health care to more than 2,000 farmworkers and their families, a population that often lacks access to basic medical care.

Emory provides pop-up field clinics, which help meet the critical public health need, while also giving students experience in treating a wide range of conditions.

The students will treat everything from health screenings for patients who have never received any sort of clinical care to workers with serious, acute illnesses.

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Jodi Guest, Director of the Emory Farmworker Project, said their inner professional group consists of students training to be physical therapists, physician’s assistants, medical and nursing professionals.

The Emory Farmworker Project takes place both in the fall and in the summer. Guest said in the fall, the students were providing COVID-19 vaccinations. However, during this most recent visit they focused more on healthcare.

“We’ve been diagnosing a lot of people with diabetes and we’ve seen a lot of new heart conditions,” she said.

While providing the farmworkers with this news may be difficult, Guest said they are able to provide them with medications, as they realize it may be tough to find access to another healthcare professional.

All farmworkers are required to check in with the Decatur County Farm Worker Clinic, before they are seen by the Emory students.

Once checked in, farmworkers are then taken to the nurse’s station, where their vitals are checked and they can be screened for diabetes, as well as heart conditions.

“We also have behavioral medicine resources for those that need it,” she said.

The Emory Farmworker Project not only helps the farmworkers of Decatur County, but the workers in Valdosta, as well.

Guest said they are set to spend the next week in Valdosta.

Although the work can prove long hours for clinical students, Guest shared that this is why many choose Emory, in order to get the field experience and give back to the community that needs it most.