There are numerous barriers to recognizing and treating environmental and occupational health (EOH) problems at the primary care setting. Some of the underlying reasons are the limited EOH training front line providers receive as well as institutional challenges that prevent clinicians from adequately addressing EOH problems. For migrant farmworkers and other vulnerable populations working in hazardous occupations such as construction, an occupational injury or exposure is often the reason for first point of contact with the health care system, underscoring the need to begin addressing EOH concerns at the primary care level.
Since its inception, MCN has worked to eliminate health disparities among migrant and seasonal farmworkers. In particular, MCN has focused on occupational health disparities as the work and lifestyle that accompanies this vulnerable population places migrants at higher risk for injuries and other health problems. MCN is working to assist frontline providers to integrate occupational and environmental health practices into primary care to strengthen the quality of care and meet the unique healthcare needs of the migrant population. MCN recognizes that migrant clinicians, like the majority of primary healthcare providers, generally do not bring an occupational and environmental health perspective to their work. Yet they are serving workers employed in high risk occupations. Given the competing demands and severe time constraints in a primary care setting, healthcare providers struggle with ways to incorporate occupational medicine practices into their day to day efforts if they include them all.
For questions about MCN's Environmental and Occupational Health Initiative, please contact Amy Liebman.
**MCN’s EOH efforts are largely supported through cooperative agreements with the US Environmental Protection Agency as part of their National Strategies for Health Care Providers: Pesticide Initiative. The conclusions and opinions expressed herein are those of MCN and do not necessarily reflect the positions and policies of the U.S. EPA.