Delivering quality healthcare to immigrant farmworkers

Delivering quality healthcare to immigrant farmworkers
A study addresses the task of providing adequate healthcare to farmworkers and their own families.

By the center of the 20th century, the arrival of irrigation to California’s Coachella Valley marked the start of year-round agriculture and a thriving agricultural industry. By 2016, the industry was valued at $639 billion.

However, most of these crops come from the eastern the main valley. This area is also home to farmworkers from poor socioeconomic backgrounds, who are migrant Latinx, a lot of whom are undocumented and underinsured.

A fresh study proposes a means of delivering effective healthcare to the underserved farmworkers and their own families in the eastern Coachella Valley through the use of mobile health clinics (MHCs).

The potential impact of such clinics extends far beyond the Coachella Valley. Over 80% of farmworkers in the United States are Latinx, of which 95% are immigrants.

The lead author of the brand new study is medical anthropologist Ann Cheney of the University of California, Riverside (UCR), with assistance from UCR graduate Monica Tulimiero of the Ventura County INFIRMARY. The analysis appears in The Journal of Rural Health.

Cheney says:

“Farmworkers in eastern Coachella Valley face several barriers, such as for example limited health services and public transportation, language barriers, unfamiliar medical systems, no medical health insurance, and financial challenges compounded by too little workers’ rights.”

MHCs in the Coachella Valley
The researchers conducted the study in cooperation with Health to Hope, a federally qualified health center, and involved the creation of a pilot program comprising three MHC units in the eastern Coachella Valley.

In designing their MHC system, the researchers conducted comprehensive focus-group discussions with community members to see both their healthcare priorities and also to find out about the obstacles they face. They asked residents to spell it out what they considered a great healthcare infrastructure for communities such as theirs.

Each MHC opened close to its target community to create it possible for patients to avoid in, avoiding issues surrounding the option of public transportation. This geographical closeness also afforded clinic personnel an even of immersion in the community that helped them understand and serve the community’s needs.

One key obstacle to satisfactory care for farmworkers is that clinics are usually open only during standard workday hours when farmworkers are in the fields. The MHCs addressed this matter by configuring their hours of procedure specifically for the capability of these part-time, unsalaried workers who seldom receive paid leave or time off.

In addition to providing healthcare for folks seeking treatment for various problems, Cheney sees an opportunity for MHCs to apply preventive care, saying, “MHCs present an ground breaking healthcare service delivery model for chronic disease screening and prevention in underserved communities like the eastern Coachella Valley and can reduce access barriers and emergency department use and improve health outcomes for such vulnerable populations.” 
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