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Health screenings offered to farmworkers at annual women’s health clinic

Flu shots were given, blood was drawn and other health screenings were performed on women farm workers at the annual Women’s Health Clinic hosted by Augusta University on Thursday.

The collaboration between Costa Layman Nurseries and AU provided an opportunity for nearly 80 farm workers to get a variety of free screenings. Dr. Pam Cromer, associate professor and director of the interdisciplinary Costa Layman community health outreach program, said the health clinic started as a work site health fair and grew into what it is today.

Cromer said the university was approached by the farm about the possibility and has since incorporated it into the curriculum for nurse practitioners to gain experience. The health clinic has grown since it began 11 years ago, Cromer said.

“Since that time, we have branched out and pulled in our interdisciplinary colleagues from across the campus,” Cromer said. “We have our physician residents. We have faculty and students from our Summerville campus, who are thinking about college and what degree they would pursue, so they are helping us with some aspects of this particular clinic.”

Cromer said the event gives people within AU an opportunity from other disciplines to work together and learn from each other to help the patients. The clinic is specifically for women farm workers at Costa Layman, with another clinic taking place during the summer for all the workers.

In addition to AU, community partners like the Georgia Department of Public Health for the East Central Health District are also assist with the screenings. Public Health provided flu and tetanus shots. Tami Purdue, district nursing director, said it’s important for everyone, not only the farm workers, to get flu shots to prevent an outbreak.

“Not everyone wants it, some people are afraid of getting it, but there is no reason to be afraid because you do not get the flu from the flu shot,” Purdue said. “Things that you might experience is just a little reaction to the vaccine itself, who might be some soreness at the site.”

The event allows women, who might not have health care, a chance to learn and get access to care. Although it is a great opportunity for the farm workers, Cromer said it also allows students to get real world experience, particularly regarding rural healthcare.

“This is an excellent way to introduce them to not only cultural differences, the diversity of populations they’ll find in communities, but also what is in rural care, some of the barriers and so forth that people find when they live not close to a major medical center like we have,” she said.

Morgan Dowd, a senior doctor of nursing practice, decided to volunteer because she wanted the experience dealing with women’s health and the Hispanic population. Dowd said a lot of the students, including herself, live and plan to work in rural areas with a high Hispanic population, so she feels this event gives them a lot of positive experience when dealing with potential patients.

“Our program is really trying to work in more women’s health,” Dowd said. “Not only is this an opportunity for us to get some more experience in that, it’s also an opportunity for us to learn more about this population.”

Dowd hopes the farm workers learn if they have medical problems and how to address them. She is glad the university formed this partnership.

“I’m very thankful for this opportunity and I’m very thankful that our university is so interested in helping the ones that aren’t able to receive the care that a lot other people are able to,” Dowd said. “This is one thing our university has. We have a big heart and we want to help those that may not have access to health care.”