Oak Orchard Health hosts migrant health conference

By on June 10, 2019

Members of the board of directors of Oak Orchard Health (OOH), along with senior OOH leadership, hosted members of the National Advisory Council on Migrant Health (NACMH) for two days of dialogue surrounding the issues of migrant agricultural workers’ health concerns. This conference took place on May 22 and 23 at The College at Brockport.  

Conference attendees included senior leadership of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, along with leadership from the Cornell Farmworker Program, Workers’ Center of Central New York, National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) and Community Health Care Association of New York State (CHCANYS).  

Talks included overviews of agriculture, migrant and seasonal agricultural workers in New York, and a discussion of working and living conditions on New York dairy farms. Presenters included OOH’s Chief Dental Officer, Rachel Nozzi, DDS, on migrant and seasonal agricultural worker oral health needs, and Cheryl Seymour of Augusta, Maine on geriatric care for that population. Additionally, one entire afternoon was devoted to the testimonies of migrant and seasonal agricultural workers from our area.

The discussions and testimonies will inform recommendations made by the Advisory Council to the Secretary of the United States Department of Health and Human Services. OOH board chair, Gary Skoog, is also a member of NACMH. He remarked, “It is an honor to serve on NACMH and have the opportunity to make appropriate recommendations which can have a positive impact on the health of the migrant agricultural farm worker.”

OOH provides high quality health care and enabling services to many of the migrant and seasonal agricultural workers in the surrounding communities. Services include a model of care that integrates patient-centered primary care, behavioral health, dental and vision services – treating the whole patient and focusing on wellness and prevention. OOH CEO Mary Ann Pettibon remarked, “We are proud to provide excellent health care to local agricultural workers … the people without whom our area food growers would not be able to succeed.”

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