184702 Working towards social justice: Lessons learned in Somerville, Massachusetts

Monday, October 27, 2008: 3:00 PM

David M. Gute, PhD, MPH , Civil and Environmental Engineering, Tufts University, Medford, MA
Alex Pirie, BA , Somerville Community Corporation, Immigrant Services Provider Group/Health, Somerville, MA
Raymond Hyatt, PhD , Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Tufts University, Boston, MA
Rose Goldman, MD, MPH , Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Cambridge Hospital, Cambridge, MA
Marcy Goldstein-Gelb , Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety & Health, Dorchester, MA
Mark Woodin, ScD, MS , Civil & Environmental Engineering, Tufts University, Medford, MA
Anne Marie Desmarais, MSPH , Civil and Environmental Engineering, Tufts University, Medford, MA
Tufts University, in concert with its partners, the Immigrant Service Providers Group (ISPG) as the community-based organization and the Cambridge Health Alliance as the health care provider have implemented a program to address occupational health risks to immigrant workers in Somerville, Massachusetts. Somerville, known as a “gateway” community due to the diversity of immigrant populations and community organizations, as well as temporal shifts in its immigrant population, represents a unique laboratory for this activity. This project leverages existing peer youth training and advocacy programs for immigrants that have been successfully implemented by members of the ISPG (Haitian Coalition and the Community Action Agency of Somerville) on issues ranging from tobacco use to environmental hazards. We extend these successes in designing a sustainable capability to assess and reduce occupational health risks in immigrant populations.

We believe that the structure of work influences such issues as immigrant empowerment and the sustainability of interventions aimed at lessening the impact of occupational risks. A pilot green cleaning cooperative, Vida Verde, has been launched to address occupational risks encountered by female immigrant workers engaged in domestic services. Project partners will discuss the lessons learned from these initiatives and perspectives on the difficulties and benefits of partnering with a university to do community-based participatory research. Among these are differing ways of defining social justice, challenges in implementing a research agenda and sharing data, opportunities and difficulties of translating the project into meaningful change, and examples of unanticipated advantages of multiple partner partnerships.

Learning Objectives:
1. List three specific advantages of community-university partnerships. 2. List three specific difficulties of community-university partnerships. 3. Articulate the benefits of employing a Co-operative structure in enhancing empowerment among immigrant house cleaners.

Keywords: Occupational Health Programs, Community-Based Partnership

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Because I am the Principal Investigator for a NIOSH research grant that is actively studying the issues reported on in the presentation.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.