How CompleteCare is Helping Hundreds of Migrant Workers Get COVID-19 Vaccinations

Today’s blog, written by Meghan Spinelli, Vice President of Community Relations at CompleteCare Health Network, focuses on the unique relationship community health centers have with agriculture workers and their health care needs.

I’m a Garden State girl. That’s right, I was born and raised in New Jersey where we take pride in our farms, farm owners, and farmworkers. I certainly take pride in them, and my passion has taken me so far as to advocate for the health of our farmworkers, many of whom are undocumented immigrants.

One of my proudest accomplishments is how successful my company, CompleteCare Health Network, has been at distributing COVID-19 vaccinations to migrants working at local farms and factories, ensuring that they get the best overall healthcare possible.

Our Secret to Success: Relationships and Outreach

As a vice president at CompleteCare Health Network in New Jersey, and overseer of our Government and Community Relations Department, it is my job to foster relationships between CompleteCare and entities such as the local Department of Labor and Department of Agriculture, as well as schools, churches, housing, and business complexes. Our comprehensive healthcare program and facilities are targeted at financially disadvantaged communities, including undocumented migrant and seasonal farm workers.

Within the past year and because of the COVID-19 pandemic, my job at CompleteCare has become more important than ever. Since March 2021, our goal has been to distribute COVID-19 vaccinations to migrant workers in the farm industry. While it hasn’t been easy work, it has been incredibly rewarding, especially because the feedback we have received about our work so far has been amazingly positive!

The relationships we’ve fostered with the local farming industry and farmworker communities are the secret to our success at distributing the COVID-19 vaccine.  Before the harvesting season, which occurs every year in June and July, I emailed and sent letters to nearly 300 agriculture industries in our service area. Thankfully, most farmers and workers were excited and eager to receive vaccinations against the coronavirus that crippled our economy, as well as led to hundreds of thousands of deaths in the United States.

Another huge part of our success was how much outreach we completed. Since March 16th, when we set up our first vaccination clinic in Bridgeton, NJ and vaccinated 150 workers, we’ve been going out 3 to 5 times every week to different farms and agriculture sites to spread awareness and facts about COVID-19. We encourage migrant workers to get the vaccine and give them a choice between Johnson & Johnson and Moderna. The best part is it’s completely free of charge: no copays, and no hidden fees.

Most of the workers we’ve spoken to have been grateful for the opportunity to get vaccinated. They know they’re building themselves a layer of protection – a suit of armor, if you will – against the worst side effects of COVID-19.

A second way we’ve been helping farmworkers in our service area fight off COVID-19 is by providing them with PPE, including hand sanitizer and masks. There’s no doubt that vaccination is the strongest line of defense, but we’re still not so far out of the woods of the pandemic that we shouldn’t continue to exercise a high-level caution. Masks are still necessary for people to stop from getting infected and halt the spread of disease while they wait for their second shot.

CompleteCare is Truly Complete Healthcare

It’s essential that our farmworkers receive our greatest protection – vaccinations – against this terrible virus. Our fruit and vegetable crops are our greatest asset in New Jersey (we are, after all, the Garden State) as well as in the whole of the US. The people who are harvesting and processing these crops make up the backbone of our nation’s agriculture. Without them, our economy would collapse even further into disarray, and a portion of our food supply would be severely undercut.

Furthermore, it should go without saying that our migrant community has just as much of a right as anyone else to not just COVID-19 vaccines, but also to any other type of healthcare they may require. Migrant workers’ undocumented statuses should not prevent them from receiving proper care and living their best, healthy life. It’s that gap that we want to fill at CompleteCare Health Network.

But there’s more to life and health than protecting ourselves against COVID-19 (although it’s hard to remember a time when that wasn’t the case). CompleteCare is not just committed to providing COVID-19 vaccinations to the underserved, undocumented workers, and folks on Medicare and Medicaid. We also offer a host of other healthcare services, including dental, pediatric, chiropractic, pharmacy, lab services, general medicine, mental health, and gynecological.

We’re Making a Real Difference in Workers’ Lives

Just because so many of our farmworkers in New Jersey are migrant or seasonal workers, doesn’t mean they should be barred from taking care of themselves and their health. Their success in beating COVID-19 is a win for everyone, and it’s also a win for me and everyone who works at CompleteCare. It means we’re doing our job right and helping slow the spread of the coronavirus. It’s also keeping our farm industries alive, which is so important to Garden State residents.

Is it obvious that I love my state and my company? Well, I hope it is obvious because it’s certainly true. This year has taught me that it is possible to make a difference in the lives of people who need extra help when it comes to healthcare options. At CompleteCare, we’ve done it.

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