With a generous grant from the Georgia Health Foundation, Georgia's migrant farm workers will receive more care throughout the year through an expansion of Emory School of Nursing's Farm Worker Family Health Program. Migrant farm workers spend as many as 18 hours a day at south Georgia farms and packing houses, picking and sorting vegetables by hand. Due to harvest patterns, these workers and their families travel from farm to farm and state to state to find work, meaning they have little available time to tend to their health needs, let alone have a primary care physician or health insurance.
For the past ten years, the Farm Worker Family Health Program has provided a two-week intensive health service delivery initiative each June to care for these health needs, which often include muscle strains, back problems, foot fungus, urinary tract infections, skin rashes, eye infections and diabetes.
The program, directed by Emory University's Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, received a $20,000 grant from the Georgia Health Foundation to support and expand its services with additional visits throughout the year.
Emory program director Dr. Judith Wold says the expansion ideally will "have the students visit Moultrie at different times through out the year to hold smaller, specific clinics for the workers and their children based on needs identified by the [Ellenton] clinic and the results of previous assessments." Funds also will be used for the purchase of additional medical equipment necessary for the expansion.
Dr. Wold works with Cynthia Hernandez of the Ellenton Rural Health Clinic to ensure the program complements year-round services that the Ellenton Clinic provides for the Hispanic population at risk and underserved.
The program, which annually provides health and dental assessments and treatment to 1,000 adults and children, is a collaboration among five Georgia universities: Emory University School of Nursing, Georgia State University (psychology and physical therapy), Clayton State University and College (dental), Kennesaw State University (nursing) and Darton College (dental).
Other partners include the Colquitt County Health Department, the Colquitt County Board of Education, the Southern Pine Migrant Education Agency and the owners of farms and packinghouses in the Colquitt County area. Additional support comes from churches and community organizations in the area.