Migrant Health

Migrant health

Bilingual Interpretation Services

SJFMC cares about communication and patient service. We have bilingual and bicultural interpreters ready to assist in our goal to provide the best quality of care.

Farm Worker Campsite Support

SJFMC through its Outreach Department keeps a close relationship with the migrant farm worker community. We, regularly, visit each camp in the area to offer on site health screenings and health consultations. We also provide health education, case management and wide variety of services to this underserved population.

Transportation Services

SJFMC offers a pick up and drop off transportation service for community members who require assistance coming to our medical center and returning home. We also try to provide transportation in our follow up with the patient’s medical needs, such as procuring their medications, transporting them to see specialists and taking patients to the emergency room.
Migrant Health

The need for health services to migrant and seasonal farm workers was the basis for developing the original primary care service program for Southern Jersey Family Medical Center, Inc. and this component of today’s services is still a priority. Southern Jersey Family Medical Centers operates a network of multi-service community health centers where medical professionals provide low-cost, high-quality medical and dental services to migrant farm workers and low-income residents of South Jersey.

Every spring South Jersey is visited by over 20,000 migrant farm workers and their families, who come to work on the farms of Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Gloucester and Salem Counties. Arriving from other points on the migrant trail - Florida, Georgia, North Carolina - migrant farm workers stop in NJ during the harvest season to handpick the blueberries, peaches, tomatoes, cranberries and other fruits and vegetables that feed the population of the Delaware Valley. Most farm workers are originally from Mexico, but many are from Central America, Puerto Rico and Haiti.

The lifestyle of migrant farm workers makes it difficult for them to access healthcare when they need it. Many migrants have limited financial resources, do not speak English, do not have an automobile or a telephone, and are not aware of how 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 farm workers.

Migrant Health Outreach Team

The bilingual and bicultural Migrant Outreach Team of SJFMC offers on site health screenings, prevention education and consultations in order to asses the farm workers health needs and spread awareness of the services the medical centers offer.

Currently, SJFMC’s Migrant Health Program focuses heavily on health promotion and disease prevention.

While individual health assessments and basic health screenings (blood pressure, blood sugar, PPDs) often result in scheduling a Center visit with an SJFMC provider, the goal is to encourage self-sufficiency and positive behavior change that will affect long-term health status. During the six-month period from mid-April through mid-October, Migrant Health Promoters visit farm workers in over 150 camps. Information is provided about SJFMC’s services, basic health screenings, individual health assessments, group health education (based on low-literacy, participatory educational activities), and case management (including specialist appointments, referrals for housing, and legal advice).

Farm workers' labor is crucial to the production of a wide variety of crops in almost every state in the nation. Farm workers are the poorest group of workers in the United States. Agricultural employment is currently listed by the Department of Labor as having one of the highest rates of fatalities and injuries among workers in this country.

Lay Health Promoter Program (Promotores de Salud Program)

SJFMC began ESL/Survival Skills classes in December 2001.  Unexpectedly, the great majority of students were migrant farm workers (MSFW) who were staying through the winter.  They were also the leaders of their communities and very enthusiastic individuals who wanted to help their communities.  During ESL classes, the Migrant Health Coordinator would interrupt classes each week to do a “charla” (a fun, health educational activity) with the farm workers.  This continued through May when ESL classes were concluded for the year.  Most of the MSFWs/students agreed that once the season began they would have very little time to study or attend classes.  But they did not want the Promotores de Salud program to conclude.  Therefore, the SJFMC Outreach Program makes them Lay Health Promoters.

Throughout the farm season the health promoters help SJFMC outreach staff by referring farm workers to the health center, organizing farm workers to gather for health education talks and being a point person in the farm worker camp for the outreach staff. The health promoters are a vital part of the Migrant Outreach Program because they inform farm workers about SJFMC services and assure farm workers that they can trust SJFMC staff.

The Lay Health Promoter program has continued since 2001, and each winter the health promoters are trained on health topics and social services available to them.

If you would like more information on the Lay Health Promoter program, please call (609) 481-3100.

Summer Migrant Health Festival

Migrant health

The Farm worker Summer Festivals are the social events for the season. In conjunction with scores of community-based organizations and agencies, SJFMC hosts a health education health fair for farm workers and their families.

Health education activities and screenings are conducted throughout the day. Ethnic dancing is encouraged and allows family members to dress in the native clothing dance to entertain other workers and visitors. A soccer tournament is played throughout the day.

Farm worker festivals are held annually in Salem and Burlington counties in May or June. Volunteers and participating organizations are always welcomed. Donations like water, juice, raffle prizes, household items, children's goods and health education materials are always needed.

Migrant Farm worker Holiday Dinner

Each year many migrant farm workers stay in the area over the winter and are far away from family and friends for the holiday season. Since 2004, Southern Jersey Family Medical Centers, has hosted a Farm worker Holiday Dinner in collaboration with local churches. It is a perfect opportunity for the local community to show farm workers their appreciation for all their hard work.

In 2003 and in 2012, SJFMC received the Cecelia B. Abhold award for its excellent migrant outreach program from Health Outreach Partners at the East Coast Migrant Stream Forums.