Community Health Center: Piedmont Health Services, Inc. | Prospect Hill, North Carolina

Contact: Patricia Morales, Migrant Health Program Coordinator

Every year HOP presents the Sister Cecilia B. Abhold Award to three organizations demonstrating excellence in health outreach services to migrant and seasonal farmworkers. This year HOP was excited to present Piedmont Health Services’ (PHS) the Sister Cecilia B. Abhold Award for the East Coast Stream at the 2013 East Coast Farmworker Stream Forum in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

In 2012, PHS outreach program reached over 1,370 migrant and seasonal farmworkers across 10 counties. Despite serving such a large area, PHS has only three full time staff positions funded to provide outreach services. In lieu of additional paid staff, PHS has created a strong and structured volunteer and internship program to extend their outreach capacity. Moreover, they have engaged interns in a special initiative to serve retired African American farmworkers.

PHS has seven sites throughout North Carolina. At two of their sites, Prospect Hill and Moncure, their outreach program targets farmworkers and provides comprehensive case management, health education and other needed services. They have strong relationships with AmeriCorps and Student Action with Farmworkers in order to recruit dynamic and enthusiastic students. Each year, they have between five to seven student outreach workers who work with them for 10-24 weeks. Student outreach workers have similar responsibilities as the health center’s outreach staff, with some exceptions around administrative duties.

All students receive a weeklong training led by the Migrant Health Program Coordinator. The training covers goals, expectations, outreach related topics, and administrative tasks. Students get trained on various health education topics such as heat related illnesses, pesticide exposure, nutrition, blood pressure, STI/HIV, green tobacco sickness, and substance abuse. Students learn to use group discussions, pictures, songs and other creative ways to deliver information in a simple and engaging manner. In addition, students are trained to coordinate appointments, to do appropriate follow-up, and to assist farmworkers with forms they need to fill out in order to sign up for services. Students receive continual education and mentorship so that they can become strong and effective outreach workers.

Many migrant outreach programs are geared toward serving Latino migrants. PHS works to meet the needs of Spanish-speaking farmworkers and their families, and they also extend their outreach to anyone that is eligible for the clinic services. Notably, for the past two years, they have engaged students in a special initiative to serve African American seasonal farmworkers in the community. Many of them are retired but have health needs related to their years working in tobacco fields.

According to the Migrant Health Program Coordinator, Patricia Morales, many African American farmworkers in her community tend to have a higher incidence of chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, suffer from greater substance abuse issues, and often live in poor housing conditions. During outreach, one of the goals is to help people become familiar with the different social service programs that exist. Outreach workers can help patients apply for affordable health insurance, housing assistance, SNAP and other programs.

PHS solicits the contributions of local churches and leverages resources within their health program to provide services to these individuals and their families. Working with students has given PHS the ability to target a very specific population that might not otherwise have access to health care services. In doing so, they have also successfully enrolled more African American farmworkers at their health center.

When working with students, PHS recommends creating a structured program and being clear about expectations. This prevents confusion and serves as a point of reference for both students and staff. Utilizing students allows PHS to extend their outreach capacity to reach new patients and to provide high quality comprehensive care. PHS is able to foster morale and interest in opportunities among young people to improve the health and wellbeing of their community.


This publication was made possible by grant number U30CS09743 from the Health Resources and Services Administration, Bureau of Primary Health Care. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of HRSA