University of Augusta Colleges Collaborate to Host Health Fair for McCorkle – Jagwire Nursery Workers

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When respiratory therapy student Alex Appling first heard that Augusta University was going to have a health fair for workers in McCorkle Nurseries, Inc., she was excited about the practical opportunity.

“I haven’t had a lot of patient interactions so it’s just great to be able to put into practice what we’ve learned in the classroom,” said Appling, a junior at the College of Paramedical Sciences. “Seeing everyone come together for this has been nice. “

While finishing his studies at AU, Dr. Jessica stewart, postdoctoral fellow in the The doctoral school, replied to a leaflet from Business health partners. They were looking for a bilingual health coach as they tried to set up a wellness program at McCorkle. Stewart accepted the position while also working as a part-time research assistant at AU.

After completing her doctoral program, Stewart was hired at AU as a postdoctoral fellow with the Department of Population Health Sciences and immediately set to work to create an expanded health fair.

“Dr. (Pam) Cromer was on my doctoral committee and was a mentor to me, and I did outreach with Costa Secular over the past six years, ”said Stewart. “When I worked for McCorkle, I understood what they were looking for and what types of needs they had. I continued to contact Augusta University and talk to Pam about this community, how similar it was and what a great opportunity it would be for us. And really, it was not a lack of means, but no one was there to carry the banner.

Shortly thereafter, Cromer recommended that Stewart contact Dr. Monirul Islam, associate professor in Epidemiology and Faculty of the Institute of Public and Preventive Health, which had already expressed interest in the Costa Layman health fair. Islam postdoctoral fellow Dr. Lorriane Odhiambo, replied to Stewart and became a co-organizer.

“The resources were always there, but they needed someone to coordinate and coordinate them,” said Stewart. “Costa Layman is a great model event, and we are following that community model here with guidance from the College of Nurses and Dr Cromer.

“But that’s a separate thing; you need these community partnerships and these community relationships that existed with Costa Layman and Dr Cromer and Debbie Layman. It exists here with myself in this population. It was perfect.”

University of Augusta students take the blood pressure of McCorkle nursery workers during the health fair. [Michael Holahan/Augusta University]

The health fair, held on August 13 at Calvary Baptist Church in Dearing, helped 120 people, 90 of whom were migrant workers from Mexico. Participants included UA Respiratory therapy program, the Georgia Dental College, the Master in Public health (HPSA), Master’s internship in dietetics, and the Institute of Public and Preventive Health, with the University of Health mammography van, Shepeard Community Blood Center, the Georgia Department of Public Health and corporate health partners.

“It’s vitally important to have an event like this, and it’s something we’ve been doing on a much smaller scale for several years. We are delighted to partner with AU to really make this robust, and to serve our community and serve our people and keep them safe and healthy, ”said Skeetter McCorkle, President of McCorkle. “That’s really the goal of so many things we want to do here at McCorkle Nurseries. “

He praised Stewart for hosting the event while acknowledging his earlier efforts as a health coach, which helped earn the trust and respect of those at the Nursery.

“She’s the leader who put it all together and did a fantastic job with it,” McCorkle said.

Paula Kitchens, who has been director of human resources at McCorkle for more than three years, said McCorkle offers health coverage to its employees, but not all participate. Kitchens said employees were excited to have the event while having the chance to learn more about their health.

“McCorkle Nurseries is a Christian business, and our business is involved with Calvary Baptist Church,” she said. “We have used the church facility in the past for other types of events, and they are certainly interested in helping the community.

Dr. Michelle fielden, an assistant professor in the department of general dentistry at the Dental College of Georgia, said her primary focus with students is clinical education. She supervised fourth-year dental students during the event, who were eager to participate while gaining hands-on experience.

“They were all excited to go out and do something different. They all love to volunteer, ”said Fielden. “It’s one thing to see something on paper, but it’s a whole other thing to have your hands in someone’s mouth and have the opportunity to really learn that way. It just gives them more exposure to patients and the different kinds of needs that patients have – and also shows them the public’s need for disadvantaged patients.

Stewart spent much of his time going back and forth directing patients in Spanish to the various booths. The self-proclaimed “chatterbox” learned to speak Spanish while serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in rural El Salvador, and speaks the language as much as she can so she doesn’t lose it.

His previous work at McCorkle, along with his use of Spanish, went a long way in putting workers who are not as fluent in English at ease, especially when it comes to interacting with a professional. of health.

“My relationship in this community is not only with the leaders, but also with the workers here,” she said. “So many of them know me and see me, and I think that opens up the dialogue for conversations about things they might not want to talk about with someone who’s unfamiliar to them.”

Stewart said the outpouring of support for those who volunteered as well as their motivation to get involved was overwhelming.

“I think it shows that it was a multidepartmental and collegial effort. People are eager to be here and do something in the community, ”said Stewart. “This first event far exceeded my expectations, thanks to the number of students who came here. Some were on hiatus and others started a few days ago. It’s just amazing.

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