Outreach is a program that links migrant and seasonal farm workers with health care services at InterCare. The program runs from spring until fall when large numbers of workers and their families migrate to southwest Michigan to plant, hoe, harvest, and pack the many types of fruits and vegetables grown in this rich agricultural area of the state. More than half of the estimated 45,000 farm workers and their families who travel to Michigan during the growing season move into migrant labor housing, called camps, in InterCare's service areas.
Teams of licensed professional Outreach Nurses and Outreach Workers visit the migrant camps to inform families about InterCare's medical, dental, and WIC services. These teams are Spanish-speaking community health workers, but also travel with an interpreter. They share health information, schedule appointments, and arrange for transportation to our health centers.
The Outreach Nurses are able to assist farm workers by:
- Checking blood pressures and blood glucose levels
- Assessing health histories and immunization levels
- Educating farm workers about disease and illness prevention
- Advising patients how to best manage their chronic health problems
- Conducting follow-up visits requested by clinic providers for home care such as diabetic education and blood pressure checks
Our outreach workers assist with :
- Helping families understand InterCare's sliding fee discount for low income families
- Helping families with insurance eligibility questions
- Partnering with other agencies to help farm worker families get the resources they need while they are in Michigan, such as food and clothing
- Referring farm workers to agencies that can help them with many different kinds of problems, such as childcare, summer education for their children, legal and immigration concerns, and work-related problems
One of the most needed forms of assistance is transportation to health and WIC appointments. Our outreach program has two transportation vehicles, one primarily devoted to transporting pregnant migrant women to and from their appointments and ultrasounds and another for general farmworker transport. In addition, Outreach Workers take farm workers to appointments. When the mobile medical van is in the area, Outreach staff focuses their efforts on getting farm workers from surrounding camps to the van to see the medical provider.
There is no charge for Outreach services. Farm workers often express their deep appreciation for the presence of InterCare staff in their camps and the help they receive that helps them thrive.