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Montana Migrant Health Program

dentalvan
Montana Migrant Health Program's new dental van.

Montana Migrant Health Program

The Montana Migrant & Seasonal Farmworker Council, Inc. informally known as the Montana Migrant Council (MCC) provides access for migrant and seasonal farmworkers and their families to comprehensive, culturally competent primary and preventive health care, transportation, outreach, dental, pharmaceutical, occupational health and safety, and environmental health through the Migrant Health Program. These programs use bilingual, bicultural lay outreach workers, health personnel, and culturally sensitive appropriate protocols that cover all life styles. The Migrant Health Program is funded through HRSA’s Bureau of Primary Health Care and has been in existence since 1971. The program contracts for care outside their scope with community providers closest to the patients. The program has grown from providing primary care referrals in a single county to providing direct preventive health care, nursing, nurse practitioner and case management services across Montana and as part of a national network. MMC estimates a target population of 10,400 individuals and annually serves about 6,000 men, women and children. The program has nine clinics located where farmworker presence is highest, in the most remote areas in Northeastern, South Central and Western Montana.

Eligibility for services is based on a worker performing more hours of agricultural work than any other type of work. To determine eligibility for health care services, interested parties should contact the MMC to make an appointment to apply, regardless of occupational or economic background.

In the last few years, the Montana Migrant Health Program has expanded to include onsite oral health care, basic mental health and substance abuse counseling and prevention. MMC is constantly seeking collaborative projects to increase access to care for patients. For example, as a result of serving as a preceptorship site for the Dental Hygienist Program out of Great Falls, about 350 additional patients were seen in a little less than 2 weeks. MMC has regular seasonal openings for clinical providers and outreach workers and accepts applications all year. For additional information regarding the Montana Migrant Health Program, contact:

Claudia Stephens
Montana Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers Council

3318 3rd Ave. North Suite 100
Billings, MT 59101
406-248-3149
cstephens@180com.net

 

GUEST ARTICLE from the Montana Migrant Council

By Maria Stephens, Executive Director

Even in these times of heavy mechanization people still bend over hoes for long hours working in the fields. People still stand on ladders to pluck cherries from the trees and lay them gently in heavy bags that cut into their shoulders. People still do farm and ranch work from sun to sun unable to make the money to live other than out of their car or in shacks where no one who has money would live. And there are still many, too many, unable to get the health care they need without help. Many people do not realize that this is in Montana.

As the Montana Migrant and Seasonal Farmworker Council, Inc. prepares to open its spring and summer farmworker health clinics across Montana our nurse practitioners, nurses and registered dental hygienists prepare to provide primary and preventive health care under some of the most challenging circumstances. The majority of our patients have poor housing or lack of housing, no running water or contaminated water sources, no money or insurance to pay for expensive medications and lack of transportation even though they may live in some of the most isolated locations. Often patients have no telephone, may move frequently and yet have to be kept in contact with and may not be able to comply with referral provider instructions because of language or cultural differences.

Our patients live and work in rural areas largely isolated from health care and other services they desperately need. Annually, we are able to reach about 6,000 of our estimated target population of 10,400. Without the Montana Migrant and Seasonal Farmworker Council, Inc., the majority of farmworkers in Montana would not be receiving health or dental care. We have three year round clinics and 6 seasonal clinics in rural parts of Montana.

In 2002, we received funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to establish an oral health clinic component to our Migrant Health Program. In our first year we saw 1,462 patients, which had 2,930 oral health visits to our clinics, as compared to 298 patients and 323 visits, prior to the receipt of funds. Previously, we had only been able to provide direct preventive oral health care education and refer for treatment of pain/infection and extraction of teeth. The patients served through our oral health component would not otherwise be receiving oral health care as other programs are either not in their area or the patient has to move before their name comes up on the waiting list. We are currently looking for dentists willing to provide charitable service for exams, simple fillings and simple extractions.

The Montana Migrant Council, Inc. currently has openings for RNs, NPs, RDHs and individuals to travel our service area to register farmworkers for the clinics. Please call (406) 248-3149 if you would like to apply.

For more information regarding the Montana Migrant Council, Inc., call Maria Stephens at 406-248-3149.

 

 

Montana Primary Care Association
1805 Euclid Avenue
Helena, MT 59601
Phone: (406) 442-2750
Fax: (406) 449-2460
Email: