Caring for Farmworkers in South JerseyThe lifestyle of migrant farm workers makes it difficult for them to access health care 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 health care 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. By meeting the farmworkers where they work and live, we actively decrease their social, economic, and cultural barriers to care. We perform health assessments, facilitate health educational sessions, arrange medical appointments, and provide transportation, interpretation and case management services in order to improve access to health care, promote healthy behaviors and ultimately improve health outcomes among these vulnerable populations. Every spring throughout the fall, South Jersey is visited by over 30,000 migrant farm workers and their families, who 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 New Jersey 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, Haiti and Jamaica.
Our Migrant Health Program Services:
Mental Health also poses an additional layer of health complications that can lead to high stress, anxiety, depression and substance abuse among the farmworker population. We provide mental health services including counseling and linkage to addiction treatment to improve quality of life.
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.
The Migrant Outreach Team case manages many workers during the farming season (May-October) to ensure their health needs are met prior to moving to their next destination.
Hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, HIV/AIDS and other STDs are common chronic health issues that the migrating farmworker lives with. SJFMC health screenings usually lead to the farmworker’s first-ever clinical diagnosis. When considering next steps, the Migrant Outreach Team follows the treatment guidelines to determine the best plan for care.
Intimate Partner Violence is also interwoven into the farm landscape compounding the already complex health issues. Our outreach team connects women in need to domestic violence services.
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 consultations. Health Promoters (Promotores) are volunteer migrant seasonal farmworkers living in the camps. Promoters are a vital part of the Migrant Outreach Team, as they build trust between SJFMC and farmworkers. The Migrant Outreach Team teaches the Promoters about health issues affecting the farmworker population so they can educate their peers.
Our Migrant Outreach Team takes a proactive approach, regularly screening farmworkers both in the fields and at SJFMC health centers for exposure to pesticides. The toxic chemicals are dangerous when they build up in the body through inhalation, the digestive tract or dermal exposure, putting farmworkers at risk for a wide range of serious illnesses and diseases from respiratory problems to cancer.
We believe that if women enter into care in their first trimester, then a healthy pregnancy is more likely. We offer maternity care to women farmworkers and the family members of workers without barriers. Our specialized health services are tailored to the unique needs of these women throughout every life stage.
These services include:
- Gynecological care
- Maternity and Childbirth
- Family Planning
- Cancer screening
- Preconception screening and counseling
- Pregnancy confirmation
- STI Testing
- Obstetrics and Gynecological surgical services
- Annual Women’s Health Screening
SJFMC offers a pick-up and drop-off transportation service for community members who require assistance coming to our medical centers and returning home. We also provide transportation to help patients get medications, visit specialists and go to the emergency room.