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Care in the Black Dirt Region | 30 Days, 30 Clinicians

MNC Kathy Brieger [Editor’s Note: Happy Birthday, Migrant Clinicians Network! To celebrate our 30th anniversary this month, we are highlighting one clinician each day who has been honored in 30 Clinicians Making a Difference​​​, in which we profile the work of 30 diverse migrant clinicians from across the country and abroad.]

In the last few weeks, onion sets have begun to be plugged into the black dirt of Orange County, NY. The extremely fertile Black Dirt region just an hour from New York City is famous for its alliums, which are sold across the Eastern Seaboard. Most of the farms rely on migratory or seasonal agricultural workers to get through the season; the workers, in turn, rely on health and outreach services from Hudson River HealthCare. Kathy Brieger, RD, CDE, MA, at Hudson River, one of our 30 Clinicians Making a Difference, listed the many programs and services that go beyond the basic services, in her profile for 30 Clinicians Making a Difference: a homework group for children, run by volunteers; supper clubs in the winter; pottery classes.

Yet it is the workers’ imprint on her own life that comes across in the profile: “Working with the farmworkers in this area [has been] one of the biggest gifts in my life,” Brieger said. “[They’ve] been woven into my life, the people of this black dirt.” That theme -- of the clinician asserting that the patients have enriched and inspired their own lives -- returned again and again in the 30 Clinicians Making a Difference interviews. Patients’ gratitude, the smiles on their faces, their inclusion of the clinician in their daily lives were all highlighted as reasons for job satisfaction, and for inspiration to continue on the path of migrant health:

“The gratitude in people’s eyes for the little bit we can do… it’s reciprocal, it really is.” -Mary Englerth, PA

“They’re going through so much adversity but despite that, they remain hopeful, and positive, and so grateful. How can you not enjoy a job where you have people who are constantly giving you that kind of feedback?” -Eva Galvez, MD

“The patients are really nice people and have great needs, and are appreciative.”  -Mark Koday, DDS

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