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Increasing access to health services for Migrant Farmworkers with Community Health Workers

Cherie Stauffer, MPH, Migrant Outreach Department, Southern Jersey Family Medical Centers, Inc., 860 S. White Horse Pike, Hammonton, NJ 08037, 609-567-0200, cheriestauffer@verizonesg.net

Accessing healthcare for the migrant seasonal farmworker (MSFW) is difficult for several reasons. Many migrants have limited financial resources, do not speak English, do not have an automobile or a telephone, lack proper documentation and are not aware of where to access healthcare since they are only in New Jersey for a short period of time. Long working hours and tight living conditions in farm labor camps also result in particular health problems for farmworkers.

Southern Jersey Family Medical Centers, Inc. (SJFMC) has tried to bridge those gaps by using Community Health Workers (CHW) as an integral part of the Migrant Outreach Team. From June-April, anywhere from 10,000-20,000 MSFWs migrate into the farms of Southern New Jersey. By training CHW from different farms, the outreach program is able to multiply their efforts. CHWs help increase access by building trust between the MSFW and the outreach worker, telling MSFWs where they can receive healthcare, helping MSFWs make appointments and/or contacting an outreach worker. Since the CHW live in the camps, they become an incredible resource for the MSFW.

CHWs are volunteers who stay throughout the winter season on the farms. Based on Paolo Freire’s theory of empowerment, the program centers on CHW’s interests, goals, and ideas. This focus gives the CHWs a desire to take action, learn and empower others. The CHWs are trained in topics they feel to be important to the MSFW and in the services available to MSFWs.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Access and Services, Migrant Farm Workers

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Organization/institution whose products or services will be discussed: Southern Jersey Family Medical Centers, Inc.
I have a significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.
Relationship: Southern Jersey Family Medical Centers, Inc.

From Rural to Urban: Community Health Workers Promoting Healthy Communities

The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA