As part of our work with Red Nose Day to come together to end child poverty, one nose at a time, we launched the Healthy and Ready for the Future initiative in 2016. The program provides a healthy start in oral health and early education for Latino children from migrant and seasonal farmworker families across rural America.
We invited one of our Affiliate partners on this initiative, Sea Mar Community Health Centers, a federally qualified health center (FQHC) in Seattle, Wash., to share their experiences working with migrant and seasonal farmworker families.
By Jennifer Vigil, Dental Program Manager, Sea Mar Community Health Centers
Washington state boasts an abundance of rich terrain: lush rain forests, lakes, rivers, streams, majestic mountains, miles of tulip fields, and acres upon acres of agricultural farmland as far as the eye can see. Woven in the fabric of this landscape is a population of equally beautiful, hard-working, humble, and underserved people—migrant farm workers.
For decades, Sea Mar Community Health Centers have extended hands and hearts to provide basic health care services to the state’s growing population of migrant farm workers. In the many clinics throughout Western Washington as well as rural outreach programs, Sea Mar teams have joined forces to meet people where they are. This frequently means caring for patients in one of our 22 urban clinics, or establishing tents and mobile clinics in rural agricultural communities.
The effect on the lives of those served is nothing short of beautiful.
For one migrant family of 13 traveling between California and Mount Vernon, Wash., Sea Mar’s personalized service goes the distance. Aside from working, there are meals to prepare, family time, soccer practice, and other activities—all of which require healthy individuals.
“I am at peace knowing that we can go to Sea Mar whenever we need to,” explains the family’s matriarch, who requested anonymity. “We go to the dentist, doctor, pharmacy, and the CSR when I need help for my kids’ Medicaid. I like Sea Mar because when I go, I feel at home. Everyone makes us feel good.”
“I am at peace. Everyone makes us feel good.” These are powerful sentiments. And behind the scenes, much is required to provide this level of confidence for each patient who comes to our door.
For a family of this size, on average, this means 13 annual wellness visits, 24 regular dental check-ups and cleanings, orthodontic visits, the occasional filling, 13 full sets of immunizations, care for sore throats, sports physicals, sports injuries, family counseling, stress management, radiography, OB-GYN, prescriptions, WIC, clothing assistance, housing, and family health education.
Providing this level of support for families is no small task, but these services and care are just the beginning. Without the genuine connection and heartfelt commitment of each Sea Mar employee, we would not be able to generate the peace of mind that comes with this special mother’s experience.
While we may serve a large number of patients, no one is merely a number at Sea Mar Community Health Clinics. Through heartfelt stewardship, Sea Mar teams utilize funding and resources to serve patients and communities who are most in need. By treating patients in their own environment, patients are able to receive health education and care which would not otherwise be possible. It’s one of the many ways Sea Mar cares for patients, whether in their own hometown or far from home.
We’re proud to partner with Red Nose Day USA to help end child poverty. By wearing your Red Noses, you’ve helped us promote good oral health in children. Don’t forget to tune in to The Red Nose Day Special airing on May 25 at 8 p.m. ET on NBC!