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Honorees Recognized for Outstanding Service in Agricultural Worker Health

Migrant Health Centers and leaders were honored for their service and commitment to the Community Health Center Movement this week at the Conference for Agricultural Worker Health in Denver, CO. The annual conference is dedicated to the health and well-being of America’s migratory and seasonal agricultural workers and comes as the nation marks the 60th anniversary of the Migrant Health Program. The honorees were recognized in a special award presentation during the conference. [NACHC Press Release]. They include:

2022 Outstanding Migrant Health Center Award

Healthcare Network, Immokalee, Florida

For 45 years, Healthcare Network has provided much needed health services to farmworkers, low-income and uninsured families in Immokalee, Florida. In the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, Immokalee reported the highest infection rates in the country.  The health center responded with an aggressive effort that included testing, treatment, vaccinations, and home visits to thousands of agricultural workers in the area.

Julie Pedretti Accepts the Outstanding Migrant Health Center Award on Healthcare Network’s Behalf

Eastern Shore Rural Health System, Onancock, Virginia

Eastern Shore Rural Health Systems is a central source of care for thousands of agricultural workers traveling the Eastern Stream to work the fields of South Carolina and Virginia every year. Through partnership with Beaufort-Jasper Hampton Comprehensive Health Services, in South Carolina, farmworkers traveling north are enrolled and referred by the Migrant Clinicians Network for a follow-up to ensure coordinated and continuous medical treatment. These efforts help keep agricultural workers healthy and productive while offering a full complement of primary care, oral and behavioral health services.

Matthew Clay Accepts the Outstanding Migrant Health Center Award on Eastern Shore Rural Health System’s Behalf

2022 Lifetime Achievement in Migrant Health Award

Velma Hendershott, President & CEO, InterCare Community Health Network, Bangor, Michigan

Velma Hendershott has been a leader in Migrant and Community Health for over 40 years, and even worked in the fields as the daughter of Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers. With InterCare, she serves over 50,000 patients in migrant, urban and rural communities as the largest provider of health care to Michigan’s agriculture workers.

Velma Hendershott Accepts the Lifetime Achievement in Migrant Health Award

Maria Loredo, COO (retired), Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center, Aloha, Oregon

Before her retirement, Maria Loredo was known as the “living archive” of the history of the Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center after spending her entire career at the center. During her tenure as COO, Maria worked tirelessly advocating for youth services—leading to the establishment of school-based health centers in five school districts.  She personally developed and led a class for new employees to foster understanding of the ramifications of poverty and the disparities it creates.  When COVID-19 struck, Maria was appointed to a state advisory board to ensure that policies around vaccine access were equitably applied.

Maria Laredo Accepts the Lifetime Achievement in Migrant Health Award

2022 Outstanding Migrant Health Center Board Member Award

Colleen Laeger, Vice Chair of the Board, Salud Family Health Center, Ft. Lupton, Colorado

Laeger has given time, energy, and leadership on the Board at Salud Family Health Centers in Colorado for nearly 40 years.  She has ensured that Salud lives up to its mission by responding to community needs and remains passionate about access to care for migrant agricultural workers and the importance of grassroots advocacy.

Colleen Laeger Accepts the Outstanding Migrant Health Center Board Member Award

Maria Rodriguez, Board Member, Westside Family Healthcare, Wilmington, Delaware

Rodriguez was honored because of her role as a board member who leads Westside’s Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Advisory Council. The council represents community-based agencies that serve the migrant and seasonal agricultural worker population residing in nearby counties and provides vital insight and input into the strategic direction of Westside’s Rural Health Outreach program. Rodriquez joined Westside’s Board of Directors in 2018 and acts as spokesperson on regulatory authorities, such as audits and visits from HRSA and The Joint Commission.

Maria Rodriguez Accepts the Outstanding Migrant Health Center Board Member Award

2022 Outstanding Migrant Health Public Service Award

Guadalupe Cuesta, MA, Director, National Migrant & Seasonal Head Start Collaboration Office, Washington, DC

Guadalupe Cuesta is nationally recognized as a leading proponent of strengthening the alignment of health services and early childhood learning systems. Guadalupe has moved forward policies to facilitate linkages and partnership between Head Start providers and health centers to encourage integration of health services and build strong foundations for childhood growth and development. She also established the Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Advisory Council to facilitate opportunities for partnership between the Head Start Program and Health Centers.

Guadalupe Cuesta Accepts the Outstanding Migrant Health Public Service Award

Eleace Sawyers, CEO, Community Health Partnership of Illinois, Chicago, Illinois

Since appointed Executive Director in 2020, Eleace’s positive can-do spirit has moved forward initiatives and services that have contributed to the health and wellbeing of CHP’s large patient base of Agricultural Workers. Under her leadership—revenues increased three-fold—enabling added services such as a 340B pharmacy, a Medication Assisted Treatment Program, two Mobile Medical Units, and more. Furthermore, CHP increased the number of farmworkers served from 22 percent to 60 percent in just over a year.

Eleace Sawyers Accepts the Outstanding Migrant Health Public Service Award

 About National Association of Community Health Centers

Established in 1971, the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) serves as the leading national voice for America’s Health Centers and as an advocate for health care access for the medically underserved and uninsured.  To learn more visit www.NACHC.org.