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Migrant Farmers Assistance Fund
Members of the Rodgers Health family teamed up with the Migrant Farmers Assistance Fund (MFAF) last Wednesday to offer medical and dental screenings at one of the orchards in Lafayette county. In addition to Lexington clinic providers Tina Moore, FNP, and Edith Wimsatt, DDS, two Spanish-speaking members of the Cabot Health Home, Michael Nobo, LMSW, and Alexa Guzman, BSN, RN, joined the outreach effort. “I personally really enjoyed participating,” said Alexa Guzman, Nurse Care Manager. “I feel that the patients and the existing team really benefited from having Spanish-speaking providers there. The farmworkers also seemed to feel more at ease knowing that there were staff that could relate to them culturally and understand them.”
MFAF serves and empowers Missouri's migrant and seasonal farmworkers. MFAF’s staff meet with migrant farmworkers when they first arrive at the orchards in late summer to determine their eligibility for public benefits, for medical and dental services, and to complete school enrollment forms. From then until workers migrate elsewhere, MFAF seeks to meet critical needs and assist with a variety of health and other issues. For those families that settle in the area, ongoing assistance is provided.
“The labor camp outreach visits are planned for the first few days the farmworkers and families arrive in Lafayette County for the apple harvest,” explained Suzanne Gladney, Attorney and Founder of the Migrant Farmers Assistance Fund. “This past Wednesday, we screened 13 men for blood pressure, blood glucose and dental needs. The Rodgers Health Lafayette Clinic in Lexington has been an important partner in services to migrant and seasonal farmworkers for the past 17 years.”
MFAF makes several visits to the orchards during the picking season and helps coordinate the Monday night medical clinics at our Lexington site. “Between the end of August and mid-November, we have five Monday night clinics scheduled for the farmworkers and one Saturday clinic as well,” explained Brenda Lierman, Practice Manager of the Lexington Clinic.
Flexibility in scheduling is vital to accessibility. “The farmworkers work every day, all day, from 6:30 in the morning to 6:30 at night,” explained Michael Nobo, Behavioral Health Consultant. “So when they take time away from the fields to access care, I want to take full advantage. I’m definitely planning to go back for the Monday night clinics when we’ll have more time to really assess and address their needs.”
One topic Michael and Alexa will be giving thought to between now and then is how to address the irony that these farmworkers live in a food desert. “The nearest food is 15 minutes away and it’s really just a gas station,” noted Michael. “A true grocery store is another 15 minutes from the gas station, and none of the men at this orchard camp have a car.”
These are basic needs the Cabot Health Home team addresses with their patients in the city, but the rural setting presents an added challenge. “Some of these farmworkers have special dietary needs. We’re going to put some thought into this and try to figure out how we can help before we go out to the Monday night clinics.”
Front row: Lina Guerrero, Suzanne Gladney, Kaylee Dolen, Alexa Guzman, Nate Longoria
Back row: Michael Nobo, Elizabeth Reid, Tina Moore, Edith Wimsatt
Rodgers Health and Migrant Farmers Assistance Fund conducted medical and dental screenings on 13 farmers at an orchard in Lafayette county.