DOVER, DE (August 8th, 2023): Today, on Agricultural Worker Health Center Day, Westside Family Healthcare unveils a new design on our mobile health unit, which serves agricultural workers in Kent and Sussex counties. Annually, the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) dedicates a week in August to celebrating and raising awareness of community health centers like Westside across America, featuring different focuses for community health on each day. This year’s National Health Center Week “A Roadmap to a Stronger America” runs from August 6th to August 12th. Westside’s new mobile unit design celebrates our organization’s longstanding commitment to the migrant and seasonal agricultural worker communities in Delaware.
The new mobile health unit design reaffirms Westside’s commitment to the agricultural worker community, and represents an important new chapter for Westside, as our organization continues to expand service offerings to this community. “While we are thrilled to reveal the mobile health unit’s new design,” says Chris Fraser, the new President & CEO of Westside Family Healthcare, “We want to use this important moment to emphasize our on-going commitment to the agricultural community and raise awareness to the health needs of the workers that provide so much for Delawareans statewide. We are thankful for this community’s hard work to provide for Delaware, and we plan to continue to expand our services to their community to ensure they have what they need to stay healthy. We are a team-based healthcare provider, and agricultural workers are a part of that team, as they provide the food resources necessary to battle food insecurity and keep our state healthy.” Westside’s mission is to improve the health of Delaware communities by providing equal access to quality healthcare, regardless of ability to pay. As the updated mobile health unit hits the roads, the MSAW team is hopeful that community members will appreciate the local agricultural workers and the important services they provide.
Westside was an early adopter of a mobile health unit model. Since 2011, Westside ‘s Migrant Seasonal and Agricultural Workers (MSAW) team has travelled to farms and residential locations in Delaware to provide healthcare services to agricultural workers. The mobile unit was originally funded by a grant from Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield’s Blueprints for the Community program and has continued to be a vital part of Westside’s community-based approach to primary care, offering annual exams, acute care, and immunizations to the agricultural worker population. “We applaud Westside Family Health for their unwavering commitment to Delawareans as they continue to deliver on innovative approaches, maintain a strong track record of healthy impact, and collaborate with entities like Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield Delaware and Highmark Health Options to improve health outcomes,” says Nick Moriello, President of Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield Delaware. In recent years, Westside’s mobile unit provided vital COVID-19 protections to agricultural workers by providing them with on-going educational resources, follow-ups, and vaccines. With the new design, Westside plans to continue travelling to local farms in Kent and Sussex counties and to expand the mobile health unit’s services.
“Westside’s MSAW program and the mobile health unit provide us with the opportunity to bring healthcare services to a population that would not normally be able to have these services,” says Joseph Mitchell, APRN, FNP-C, Associate Director of Westside’s Migrant Seasonal and Agricultural Workers (MSAW) program. “We recognize that migrant seasonal farmworkers experience barriers to transportation that limit their access to vital care. By travelling to these patients, we overcome the barrier of transportation for many workers and their families, offering them a chance to meet with a provider, ask questions, and receive the care they need.” Furthermore, Westside recognizes how the agricultural worker community works diligently to ensure Delaware community members have access to fresh produce from local farms. By taking a proactive approach to the health of the agricultural community, Westside and the agricultural workers work together to keep Delaware healthy and safe year-round. “The agricultural worker community works hard and provides Delaware with consistent, fresh food resources,” Mitchell adds. “It’s important to recognize their efforts towards our community’s health, and make sure they have access to healthcare services they need to stay healthy during and after the growing season.”
To best reach agricultural and migrant workers, Westside also partners with local non-profits like La Esperanza, which focuses on Latino family empowerment. “La Esperanza is pleased to continue our partnership with Westside Health and their Mobile Health Unit to serve the migrant and seasonal agricultural worker community, as well as local immigrant families in need of healthcare and screening in Georgetown,” says Jennifer Fuqua, PhD, Executive Director at La Esperanza. “Having a regular and weekly unit at La Esperanza allows families to plan ahead and know that help is available.” According to NACHC, Community Health Centers now serve approximately 20% of the total estimated agricultural worker population. Westside is one of about 175 Community Health Centers to receive supplemental funding to service this population and has been a leader in the initiative to provide care to agricultural workers in Delaware. We remain the only Delaware provider to visit agricultural worker communities in the evening, where they live and work.
During National Health Center Week, Westside and NACHC want to remind communities and Congress to support their local health centers and community-based healthcare workforce. We are grateful for longstanding bipartisan support for the health care center mission, which allows us to continue to provide comprehensive care services to everybody who needs it. “I was pleased to join our trusted partner, Westside Family Healthcare, to celebrate National Health Center Week and National Agricultural Worker Health Day,” said HHS Acting Region 3 Director Melissa Herd. “Community health centers play a crucial role in HHS’ efforts to increase access to quality health care. Westside’s new mobile unit design demonstrates their commitment to serving migrant and seasonal agricultural workers in Delaware.”
Health Centers like Westside play a critical role in the United States’ health care system, delivering care to more than 30 million people. In addition to our agricultural workers, Health Centers care for nearly 400,000 veterans, 9 million children, 1.3 people experiencing homelessness, and 3.3 million elderly people. Furthermore, Health Centers provide care to 1 in 5 uninsured Americans, 1 in 3 Americans living in poverty, and 1 in 5 rural Americans. And Health Centers benefit all, even those who are not patients, by employing nearly 500,000 people, creating $85 billion in economic output, and creating $24 billion in savings to the health system annually, reducing healthcare costs overall.
During National Health Center Week, Westside wants to thank fellow local and national Health Centers and their employees for their contributions to community health. Our vision is to achieve healthy equity for all, and we cannot do that without the support of our peers. If you or a loved one would like to support Westside’s mobile health unit, please consider a donation to our health center.
About Westside Family Healthcare
Westside Family Healthcare is a Joint Commission Accredited non-profit community health system with locations currently in Wilmington, Northeast Wilmington, Newark, Bear/New Castle, and Dover. Additionally, Westside operates a mobile health unit and outreach team that provides necessary primary care, infectious disease testing, vaccinations, and oral health services to seasonal migratory workers and their families throughout the growing season. Providing care to more than 28,000 patients, Westside is the largest community health system in the state, offering family medical, dental, prenatal, and behavioral health services to all patients, regardless of ability to pay. Thirty-three percent of Westside Family Healthcare’s budget in 2022 was comprised of Federal funds. Learn more about Westside at www.westsidehealth.org.
About National Association of Community Health Centers
Established in 1971, the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) serves as the leading national voice for America’s Health Centers and as an advocate for health care access for the medically underserved and uninsured. To learn more visit www.NACHC.org.