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International Agricultural Workers Medical Access Program expands for Haldimand-Norfolk-Brant

The approximately 5300 international agricultural workers in Brant-Haldimand-Norfolk who support local agricultural production can count on obtaining increased access to medical care this year

That is because Brantford’s Grand River Community Health Centre (GRCHC) received Ontario Health funding to expand its International Agricultural Worker Program (IAWP).

The GRCHC and its partners, the Norfolk Family Health Team and the Haldimand Family Health Team, will be offering more community clinics, on-farm visits and virtual consultations and access to year-round care, and expand to Haldimand County.

“The IAWP is expected to increase its reach from its current average of 700 workers per season to more than 2,000”, said GRCHC program manager Lynda Kohler. “Clinics are offered to reach workers with weekly in-person clinics with evening hours, on-farm clinics using the medical van and virtual care.”

“We’re very, very thankful for this,” said Kohler. “The international agricultural workers already know where our clinics are and visit us when they’re shopping.”

The majority of these workers are in Norfolk, with many speaking Spanish, with work arrangements varying from seasonal to year-round employment.

The Norfolk in-person clinics are held at the Norfolk Family Health Team in Delhi and at the Superstore in Simcoe.

More clinics are being developed for Brant-Haldimand-Norfolk, said Kohler. Also, the GRCHC is adding a second, full-service medical van as part of the expanded services, she added.

The team of health providers at each clinic includes medical doctors, nurse practitioners, health promoters, medical secretaries and translators.

Medical work includes diagnosis, injury assessment and wound care, said Kohler. Team members assist patients obtain follow up diagnostics, including directions on medical laboratory testing.

Top reasons for visits to the IAW clinics include: muscular-skeletal issues, chronic disease management such as hypertension or diabetes, acute illnesses and sexual health concerns. The on-site translation for clients who have language barriers is done in a culturally-safe environment.

“It’s better for people to get care when they need it, rather than go to Emergency in the future,” said Kohler. “It’s better for the (farm) business and for the worker.”

An additional outreach planned for this summer is an IAW Health Fair hosted by the GRCHC and many partner agencies. It takes place at the Simcoe Legion on Friday, July 14 from 5 to 9 pm, she added.

The GRCHC began the International Agricultural Workers Program in 2017. 


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