Earlier this month, we went on a staff retreat to allow ourselves some time to relax, look back on last season, and make some plans for the year ahead. As we prepare for the 2018 season and look ahead to what’s next, we’re also really proud of what we accomplished in 2017. We want to share some of those accomplishments with you:
Access to medical care
We performed basic health assessments on more than 2,700 farmworkers last year. That means that we took blood pressure, asked questions to assess farmworkers’ health needs, and followed up and referred farmworkers who needed help.
We helped farmworkers who needed appointments access medical care, and we had 21 Thursday night clinics for farmworkers through our partnership with Benson Area Medical Center. Helping farmworkers access care often meant assisting workers in making appointments, driving farmworkers to appointments, and interpreting at medical appointments. Staff spent an average of 8.8 hours per week providing transportation and 3.8 hours per week interpreting at appointments!
We also have a mobile medical unit which visited camps and provided care from April to October. 491 patients attended 846 medical appointments last year, either on the mobile unit or at Benson Area Medical Center!
Additionally, 326 farmworkers were able to fill 1,929 low-cost prescriptions thanks to our participation in the 340B drug pricing program. Staff also helped workers get prescriptions to the pharmacy and pick up medications when workers didn’t have transportation or time off work to go to the pharmacy themselves.
We provided health education to nearly all of the farmworker we saw this year, and most workers received training on multiple topics. Farmworkers learned about health topics relevant to their lives, like pesticide poisoning prevention, heat stress, and nutrition. Farmworkers with special health conditions, like diabetes or high blood pressure, received individual education about how to manage their health conditions.
Our staff assisted more than 200 farmworkers with enrollment in insurance plans this year. We also provided farmworkers with the support they needed to maintain and use their plans. ACA outreach workers explained benefits, did troubleshooting with insurance companies, and assisted in making premium payments. Our staff designed a training on insurance benefits using popular education techniques, which are interactive, participatory, and begin with what workers already know. These trainings made insurance a practical tool farmworkers could use to their benefit, rather than a confusing and incomprehensible system.
Because of having insurance, more than 45 farmworkers had physical exams this year (at no cost to them!), many for the first time in their adult lives. Having insurance also makes it much easier for farmworkers to manage chronic conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure, and expands the options for where farmworkers can seek specialty care. One farmworker had to be hospitalized this year, and his insurance covered almost all of his hospital stay, which cost more than $12,000.
We trained 12 farmworkers as promotores (lay health leaders) in 2017. Farmworkers received training on four health topics, and then gave lessons to their peers. They also received training on leadership, and provided additional support to other farmworkers in their camps. Promotores took responsibility for the health of their camps, encouraging other workers to seek medical help when needed, helping empower other workers to make appointments, and explaining the importance of preventive care to their peers. Promotores also participated in public speaking events, giving testimony about their lives at 2 public events this year.
We can’t do any of this work alone, and we don’t believe that anyone should. We’re not only proud but also grateful for all of the great organizations that we partnered with on regular programs and side projects this year. We’d need another blog post to list all of our amazing partners, but we’re especially proud of our continued work with the Farmworker Advocacy Network (FAN), our partnerships with local universities and students, and our work with collaborators for our farmworker enrollment events! We also could not do this work without our partnership with Benson Area Medical Center, which provides a medical home for so many farmworkers in Eastern NC.
We’re so excited about our work for the year ahead. We’ve already started outreach with families in the area, and can’t wait for more farmworkers to arrive so we can get back out in the field.