Health and Safety Event for Florida Farmworkers

Josh McGillEvents, Labor, Safety

In their fourth such clinic, faculty from the University of Florida will test farmworkers for chronic diseases from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on March 23 in Arcadia. The University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) and College of Medicine will conduct the clinic.

The screenings will be at the Turner Agri-Civic Center, 2250 NE Roan Street. The clinic will be held in conjunction with a UF/IFAS Extension agricultural employee safety training at the same place and time.

Ajia Paolillo, multi-county citrus Extension agent, conducts the annual safety program to provide agricultural workers and pesticide handlers with necessary training. Training topics include pesticide safety, equipment safety, using personal protective equipment and first aid.

“Safety training is available in both English and Spanish sessions to remove the language barrier and assist participants with understanding the information,” Paolillo said.

John Diaz, president of CAFÉ Latino, will lead a group that will educate farmworkers on different aspects of health and nutrition. CAFÉ Latino is the Coalition of Florida Extension Educators for Latino Communities and part of UF/IFAS Extension.

“By incorporating the health clinic into the safety program, we provide a value-added service to the event,” Diaz said.

Norman Beatty, UF assistant professor in the department of medicine, will lead a team testing participants for chronic diseases that often go unrecognized but can have a major impact on health. Those include high blood pressure, depression, diabetes mellitus, high cholesterol, anemia and Chagas disease.

Across America, more than 300,000 people are infected with Chagas, but less than 1% have been diagnosed, said Beatty. He is pioneering a program researching the prevalence of Chagas in Florida because it has been estimated that at least 18,000 are infected in the state.

Of the estimated 200,000 farmworkers in Florida, few of them or their families receive the care they need, according to event organizers. “We hope to increase access to healthcare resources to help mitigate the health disparities that exist in these communities,” said Diaz, a UF/IFAS associate professor of agricultural education and communication. “We will be providing health screenings and care — including vaccinations for adults and children — which will be administered by our partners at the Florida Department of Health.”

Last year, CAFÉ Latino and the UF College of Medicine tested about 2,000 farmworkers and their families. They’ve taken their clinic and educational materials to Wimauma twice and to Wauchula once.

Farmworkers can register for the March 23 event here.

Source: UF/IFAS

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