Outreach to Migrant Farmworkers

Greene County
  • North Carolina

During the H1N1 influenza outbreak in late April and early May 2009, Greene County provided timely information to area migrant farmworkers about the outbreak. Greene County Health Care (GCHC), a community health center, serves farmworkers in 8 counties in eastern North Carolina. The Center's health care providers and 16 outreach staff members visit migrant camps to provide health care, health education, and other services.

When the H1N1 outbreak began in late April, Greene County Health Department hosted a meeting of local partners, including GCHC, to discuss outbreak response. The Health Department provided daily updates to GCHC about the status of the outbreak and passed along state-level guidance for outreach to migrant farm workers.

GCHC took advantage of its existing outreach program to provide Spanish-language education to migrant farmworkers about preventing influenza infection, recognizing signs and symptoms of influenza, and accessing health care. This information was critical for farmworkers who may have limited English proficiency or may not receive public health messages via traditional media outlets. The H1N1 outreach effort was quickly mobilized because of GCHC's ongoing outreach program, which is successful largely because of existing relationships between outreach workers and farmworkers. This effort underscores the value of relationship-building prior to an emergency event.

Many community health centers throughout North Carolina have outreach programs for migrant farmworkers. The North Carolina Farmworker Health Program works with 20 centers throughout North Carolina, including GCHC, that provide health care to migrant farmworkers.