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Rural Clinics Provide Dental Care to Migrant Farmworkers

April 30, 2019

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The Migrant Farmworkers Assistance Fund and the Health Care Collaborative of Lafayette, which operates the Live Well Clinics, teamed up in the winter to provide three evening dental clinics for farmworker adults who live in the county year-round. Dentists and dental hygienists from the Live Well Clinics provided exams and treatment at the Waverly clinic to 18 farmworker adults across 33 appointments. Staff from the Migrant Farmworkers Assistance Fund, which provides health care navigation and other social services, education and legal assistance to migrant and seasonal farmworkers, coordinated the appointments and provided transportation, translation services and other support.

Many of those served had their first dental visit in years, said Suzanne Gladney, director of the Migrant Farmworkers organization. All received exams; several required extractions due to tooth decay and acute pain. Due to their long work hours, the high out-of-pocket cost of dental care and limited transportation, as well as language limitations, many of the farmworkers find it difficult to obtain dental care. Gladney said the farmworkers often have to choose between seeking necessary medical care or dental care – such that dental needs frequently are ignored.

The dental clinics are one of several partner activities that Migrant Farmworkers undertakes with help from the Live Well Clinics. During the peach and apple seasons, more than 300-400 farmworkers and family members arrive in the county to work in the orchards and related jobs. Gladney and her staff work with the Live Well health providers to provide health information and screenings during weekly evening food distributions as well as at the labor camp housing locations.

The Migrant Farmworkers Assistance Fund and HCC Lafayette are among the REACH Foundation’s 28 core partners that receive annual general operating support grants. The dental clinics were supported with a $25,000 grant to the HCC Collaborative.


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