Keystone Health Program for Farmworkers Provides Health Services to Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers with Grant | Health and safety best practices around the farm

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Pennsylvania’s agricultural industry has a $132.5 billion economic impact, and much of its success depends on the tens of thousands of agricultural workers who power it, many of whom are migrant and seasonal workers.

According to the state Department of Agriculture, housing for licensed farmworkers in Pennsylvania currently has a capacity of 4,900 migrant and seasonal workers. However, not all seasonal workers live in such accommodation and farms are not required to report the number of workers they hire.

Migrant workers are essential to harvesting the state’s fruits, vegetables, mushrooms and other crops. But most of these jobs are without benefits, especially health care. Few farm owners can afford to provide health insurance, and seasonal workers are not eligible for the state Medicaid program because they are not seeking permanent employment.

Fortunately, these workers have a place to turn.

Each year, the Federal Migrant Health Program provides grants to health centers across the country to provide health care to seasonal and migrant workers and their families. Keystone Health, a nonprofit Federally Licensed Health Center (FQHC) located in Chambersburg, Franklin County, receives a federal grant to provide primary and preventative care to migrant workers and their families nationwide. ‘State.

Keystone Health has been providing health care services to agricultural workers since 1986, when it was founded as Keystone Migrant Health Center to serve migrant workers in Franklin County. He saw 500 patients in his first season.

Last year, Keystone Health registered or served 4,179 migrant and seasonal workers statewide and expects to surpass that number by 800 to 1,000 in 2021, according to Ed Franchi, director of Keystone’s National Farmworker Program.






Newly arrived H2A workers receive a COVID debrief before undergoing mass testing. Such events prevent outbreaks and keep operations going without disruption.


What is the Agricultural Worker Program?

The program is open to migrant or seasonal employees and families of employees who work in Pennsylvania farms, dairies, mushrooms, trees and poultry, orchards, vineyards, nurseries, greenhouses and hatcheries.

The farm worker program focuses on health checks and primary care and also provides transportation when possible. Services include such things as flu and tetanus shots and health education. Additionally, the program offers medical evaluation and fit testing of OSHA respirators, COVID-19 testing and vaccination, STD testing and treatment, HIV testing and blood pressure checks. and blood sugar. Whenever possible, services are provided to farm workers. When visiting farms, Keystone brings a diverse bilingual staff who can meet their medical needs in their own language. If workers need extra attention, Keystone is able to provide that at their own clinics in Adams and Franklin counties. In other counties, Keystone contracts with local FQHCs and clinics.

How can agricultural workers participate in the program?

The program is open to migrant or seasonal employees and families of employees who work in Pennsylvania farms, dairies, mushrooms, trees and poultry, orchards, vineyards, nurseries, greenhouses and hatcheries.

The farm worker program focuses on health checks and primary care and also provides transportation when possible. Services include such things as flu and tetanus shots and health education. Additionally, the program offers medical evaluation and fit testing of OSHA respirators, COVID-19 testing and vaccination, STD testing and treatment, HIV testing and blood pressure checks. and blood sugar. Whenever possible, services are provided to farm workers. When visiting farms, Keystone brings a diverse bilingual staff who can meet their medical needs in their own language. If workers need extra attention, Keystone is able to provide that at their own clinics in Adams and Franklin counties. In other counties, Keystone contracts with local FQHCs and clinics.







Migrant workers visited for health checks

At dusk, farm workers are examined and their medical issues are triaged by Keystone staff. More advanced cases are referred to neighboring clinics.


How can agricultural workers participate in the program?

To enroll in the Keystone Farmworker Program, farm owners, as well as migrant and seasonal farmworkers themselves, can call 717-334-0001. Workers will need to show proof of agricultural employment to register.

Initial registration and screening are free. Once registered, Keystone Health will issue each worker (and family member) a card. Although not an insurance card, it can be used at Keystone sites and contracted sites to receive services for a small copayment of $15 or less.

For more information, visit keystoneagworkerprogram.org.


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