In the southwestern Florida community of Immokalee, tens of thousands of migrant farmworkers and other essential workers have had no choice but to stay on the job amid the coronavirus pandemic. Across the United States, farmworkers are at particularly high risk of contracting COVID-19 due to crowded living and transportation conditions, and limited ability to prevent infection at the workplace. Long workdays and language barriers often keep them from reaching the health services they need.
Many farmworkers work long hours, six days a week. They can’t afford to take a day off work to visit a clinic, so we are bringing the clinics to them at a convenient time and place, and in a safe environment.
Maria Plata, MSF health promoter
To respond to these needs, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) launched a public health education campaign in collaboration with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and ran free, mobile COVID-19 testing clinics with the Collier County Department of Health and the Healthcare Network of Southwest Florida. “Many farmworkers work long hours, six days a week,” said Maria Plata, a local MSF health promoter. “They can’t afford to take a day off work to visit a clinic, so we are bringing the clinics to them at a convenient time and place, and in a safe environment.” After a two-month run, MSF handed over COVID-19 activities to the county health department and local partners last week.
Public health outreach
Nurse and health promotion manager Sarah Kuech (left) and MSF health promoter Maria Plata wave goodbye to residents after an outreach visit.
Mobile testing clinics
The mobile clinics offer services in easily accessible, public spaces within the community during evening hours, with staff who speak English, Spanish, and Haitian Creole.
People sit six feet apart waiting their turn to register for a COVID-19 test.
MSF contact tracer Dr. Renold Roseme (left) and Healthcare Network volunteer Reyna Escobedo register people for testing.
Nurse Sonny Pierre with the Collier County Department of Health puts on his personal protective equipment (PPE) before his shift begins.
Nurses from the Collier County Department of Health finish administering a COVID-19 test. On the day this photo was taken, 97 people were tested.
Nurse Sonny Pierre gives a thumbs up to a patient after completing a COVID-19 test.
In the discharge tent, MSF contact tracer Jenna Hostetler (right) and Healthcare Network volunteer Jessica Gonzalez speak with each patient.
MSF contact tracer Victor Yengle hangs a multilingual banner encouraging frequent handwashing.
MSF nurse and infection prevention and control manager Meredith Moody covers a mobile clinic from rain.
MSF handed over COVID-19 activities to local organizations on June 22 and is continuing to provide support remotely until the end of June. Sign up here to receive the latest updates on our ongoing US operations.