On Saturday, November 9, 2013, UCSD medical students, pharmacy students, undergraduates, interpreters, physicians and pharmacists traveled over 50 miles to the farms outside of Fallbrook, CA to increase access to health services for one of the most underserved and marginalized populations in San Diego county: migrant farmworkers. The health fair was organized by the Border Health Project, a student-run organization at UCSD’s School of Medicine.
The Border Health Project was founded in 2006 under the principal that everyone deserves access to basic health services and resources. Although the group had been inactive in recent years, second-year medical student and CAFP Scholar TC Robbins and second-year medical student Rene Garcia collaborated with volunteer faculty member Dr. Miguel Casillas, original BHP founder Dr. Shirin Alonzo, pharmacist Dr. Eduardo Fricovksy, and staff members and health educators from Vista Community Clinic, to revive the project this fall.
Migrant workers living in San Diego face many challenges in accessing medical care, including lack of transportation, financial barriers, and fear of deportation. On November 9, 58 workers and their family members attended the BHP health fair to be screened for blood glucose, cholesterol, BMI and blood pressure. The workers were then guided to health education tables to learn more from medical students about topics that were personally relevant to them, including hypertension, diabetes, hyperlipidemia, occupational health, and sexual health. 34 of the workers received flu vaccines.
Ten patients were identified as “high-risk” based on their screening values or acute problems. They were seen by volunteer doctors and were then referred to Vista Community Clinic staff who made them appointments for the following week. The attendees were also given reusable bags with toothbrushes, toothpaste, condoms, mouthwash, deodorant, working gloves, socks, and first-aid kits, in addition to clothing from UCSD’s student-run clothing drive.
Support for the Border Health Project is provided by the PACE Program Underserved Community Grant, PRIME-Health Equity, the UCSD Office of Student Affairs, Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest, community dentists, and many other donors.