More than 100 farmworkers attended a recent health fair, which included vaccinations and health screenings provided by a collaboration of the Coalition of Florida Extension Educators for Latino Communities (CAFÉ Latino) and many other UF/IFAS Extension and UF Health professionals.
Testing results from the event revealed a critical – and perhaps lifesaving – outcome: the number of farmworkers found to have diabetes mellitus, including some who were undiagnosed. Our team was able to provide education on the disease and local community resources for further management.
Furthermore, our team was welcomed with open arms, and the community and their families were extremely grateful for the support they received from Extension. You could tell they appreciated this much-needed care. Close to 70 farm workers received a COVID-19 vaccine that day!
The agricultural workers came from Wimauma and surrounding areas to Beth-El Farmworker Ministry on Jan. 22 to receive needed vaccinations and health screening for conditions that often remain silent, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, Chagas disease and more.
Chagas disease is a parasitic infection found throughout Mexico, Central and South America. It can cause heart failure and sometimes be fatal, often going overlooked among the Latin American population. Early screening and connection to health care resources can help those at-risk receive the care they need and prevent future complications.
Faculty and staff from CAFÉ Latino and UF/IFAS Extension faculty and staff provided information about healthy lifestyles, including proper eating and exercise habits.
UF/IFAS Extension and UF Health could only deliver the vaccines and health screenings with the help of many partners, including the Hillsborough County Health Department.
Another exciting element of the health fair were the volunteers who came from the UF College of Veterinary Medicine, including Dr. Julie Moore and Dr. Rhoel Dinglasan. Their team was able to help provide education on companion animal health among those who visited that day. Chagas disease can also affect dogs too!
Our community partners were vital to the success of this event including Beth-El Farmworker Ministry, Redland Christian Migrant Association and Wimauma Community Development Corporation. We are grateful for organizations who we can partner with and as a community team, help support our farm workers throughout Florida. This will ultimately lead to improved health and wellbeing among this essential workforce, including breaking through barriers with vaccine hesitancy.
We already have five more requests for similar events across the state, from Osceola County, all the way down to Miami-Dade. Our vision moving forward is to provide care through a mobile approach, meeting the farmworker at the farm. These health fair events will help raise awareness of the existing needs and health disparities among the farm worker community.