Florida has about 200,000 migrant farmworkers. These essential members of our community often struggle with access to health care. That’s why UF/IFAS Extension and UF Health teamed up with several other organizations to set up a statewide mobile health clinic, which last month came to Wimauma.
At the clinic, which took place on January 22 at the Beth-El Farmworker Ministry, 100 workers received vaccinations and were screened for diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, major depression, heart disease and Chagas disease. These diseases often go unrecognized for years, if not decades, before they manifest clinical signs and symptoms.
In addition to health screenings, COVID-19 vaccinations were offered to those who had not been inoculated or needed a booster and UF/IFAS Extension agents gave information to farmworkers about improving their health via activity and nutrition.
“Project leaders started in Wimauma because it’s one of many places around Florida with a huge influx of migrant farmworkers, particularly during the winter harvest season,” said John Diaz, president of CAFE Latino (the Coalition of Florida Extension Educators for Latinos).
Diaz coordinated the fair with Dr. Norman Beatty, an assistant professor of medicine in the division of infectious diseases and global medicine in the College of Medicine, which is part of UF Health—the University of Florida’s academic health center—and an affiliate faculty in the UF Center for Latin American Studies.
Having joined forces, Diaz and Beatty have invited a host of other partners excited to join the effort.
“Our plan is to continue to offer these health fairs throughout Florida where we are needed the most. Partnering with UF/IFAS, we hope to reach these underserved communities,” he said. “Our strategy is to utilize a mobile approach to health care delivery. This is an essential workforce that often suffers from a lack of resources and significant health care disparity.”
Diaz and Beatty consider the flagship Wimauma event a success and credit the relationships local groups have with the workers and the established trust for getting the word out about the event.
To learn more about UF/IFAS, visit ifas.ufl.edu. For more information about Beth-El Farmworker Ministry, visit https://beth-el.org/ or call 633-1548.