How Prides Corner Farm Handled COVID Among Its Migrant Workers | Hartford Health Care


September 27, 2021

On Waterman Road, near the Lebanon-Windham town line is Prides Corner Farms, a sprawling 550-acre property that includes 2,000 varieties of roses, shrubs, trees, grasses, ferns, perennials, herbs, vegetables and berries sold to garden centers in the northeast. .

Behind the turmoil of this massive operation are 650 migrant workers, some seasonal and others year round, from Mexico and Guatemala. To keep that workforce buzzing during the pandemic, Prides Corner needed help with vaccinations.

This is where Hartford HealthCare, Backus Hospital, Windham Hospital and Generations Family Health Center came in. With a tradition of partnering to provide preventive health care to this migrant population for many years, the pandemic was a new challenge.

COVID-19 has threatened the viability of the farm business – and the lives of those who work there. Many migrants work and live close to each other, which is a recipe for problems with this highly contagious and potentially deadly virus.

“It was a very critical situation,” said Toni Ruiz, senior director of human resources at Prides Corner.

Ruiz said Generations, which frequently provides care on the property, had already vaccinated many workers, but lacked the capacity to vaccinate everyone. It was then that colleagues at Backus and Windham Hospital offered to help by providing manpower and vaccines on site and as part of the clinic.

“It has helped tremendously,” said shipping manager Miguel Parra. “In this environment, we work very closely together, and staying healthy and able to perform on a daily basis was really important. “

With so much reluctance to vaccinate, especially among minority populations, people like Parra and Ruiz have played a major role. Because they trust the migrant population, their message about the importance of getting vaccinated resonated. About 80% of migrant workers have been vaccinated, Ruiz said, which is well above the country’s 55% vaccination rate.

“I am really happy to have been able to get vaccinated and I am happy with the results so far,” said migrant worker Christian Anguilano Navarrete amidst activity with wagons coming from the fields carrying products to be stacked and then to dispatch. .

Hartford HealthCare continues to try to get more shots, especially in minority populations. Joe Zuzel, director of community health for Backus and Windham hospitals, said Prides Corner is a great example of community partners like Generations and Hartford HealthCare working together to bring care to communities that otherwise might not seek it out. be not.

“This is a great example of two healthcare organizations working together to reach an underserved population, one that might otherwise be ignored or deregistered,” Zuzel said. “The more we offer this type of access to care, whether it is in the event of a pandemic or not, the healthier our community will be.”

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