The foot soldiers carrying out the tireless work of providing access and reaching out to the medically underserved finally get the thanks they deserve at the National Farmworker Health Conference in San Diego, CA. Among them is Jules Mijares (that’s Jules in the photo with Ronald McDonald), Program Coordinator of the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile® program at Collier Health Services, Inc. (CHS) in Immokalee, FL, with the Outstanding Migrant Health Public Service Award. The award honors outstanding leaders for their achievements and contributions to the migrant health center mission and to community-based health care overall. Mijares was presented with the award because of her work and leadership spearheading the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile program, a mobile pediatric, mental and dental office serving children who lack access to basic health care services. The project, the first of its kind in Southwest Florida, has received widespread recognition for its work in providing access to the medically underserved, as well as for its heroic efforts to assist victims of Hurricane Wilma, which devastated Immokalee in 2005. But the real beneficiaries are the underserved children. CHS provided primary care services to 31,000 children in 2008 — that’s enough kids to fill several football stadiums!
Other outstanding health center leaders are getting honored at the conference as well and deserve mention. Roberta Ryder, President and CEO of National Center for Farmworker Health, Inc. in Buda, TX, received a Lifetime Achievement in Migrant Health Award, as did Marie-Jose Francois, Community Relations and Outreach Coordinator at Community Health Centers, Inc. in Winter Garden, FL. Jesus Tijerina, Board Vice-Chair of Salud Family Health Centers in Fort Lupton, CO, received the Outstanding Migrant Health Center Board Member Award, while the Migrant Health Center Award went to our friends at Clinica Sierra Vista in Bakersfield, CA.