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UK Center Receives Funding for Health Care
for Migrant and Seasonal Farm Workers

By Vikki Franklin

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About 6,100 Latino migrant farm workers and their dependents and about 1,900 seasonal farm workers and their dependents are included in the service area.

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LEXINGTON, KY (June 1, 1998) -- The University of Kentucky College of Medicine has been awarded $600,000 over two years for primary care for migrant and seasonal farm workers in five Central Kentucky counties.

This marks the first time Kentucky has received funds for health care for that population.

The program will be administered by the UK College of Medicine Department of Preventive Medicine’s Southeast Center for Agricultural Health and Injury Prevention.

The U.S. Department for Health and Human Services award is for basic care for migrant and seasonal workers and their families in Fayette, Bourbon, Clark, Harrison and Scott counties. About 6,100 Latino migrant farm workers and their dependents and about 1,900 seasonal farm workers and their dependents are included in the service area. Immigration status is not considered in determining eligibility. Seasonal farm labor can include Kentuckians if they do not work a full year in farming.

"This is designed to fill a major gap in health services to migrant and seasonal farm workers," said Robert McKnight, MPH, ScD, director of the center. The program will cover visits to doctors and dentists and some medications, but will not pay for hospitalization or for visits to many types of specialists. A network of local physicians, dentists and pharmacists will provide services, which will begin on July 1.

The program will alleviate some of the financial burden on farmers. "In the past, many farmers have had to spend their own money on their workers’ health care, and many health care professionals have provided care at no charge," McKnight said. Outreach workers who are part of the program will issue vouchers to farm workers for primary health, dental and pharmacy services.

The center is the first university health science center in the nation to receive a migrant health award. Typically, such awards are given to non-profit community organizations, health departments, or state governments.

Established in 1992, the Southeast Center for Agricultural Health and Injury Prevention is directed by the UK College of Medicine’s Department of Preventive Medicine and Environmental Health. The center generates information and research aimed at reducing health and safety risks associated with farming in eight states -- Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and North and South Carolina.

The program is expected to grow with additional counties in each of the next five-10 years. Growth will depend on the demand for services and the availability of federal money.

For more information about the program, call the Kentucky Migrant Health Program at 1-800-288-9747.

 

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Comments to Betsy Hall, Last Modified: October 14, 2003
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