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In the Field: MCN Brings Vulnerable Workers' Needs to APHA Annual Conference

mcn amy liebman at APHA Annual Conference

This evening, health and safety advocates from around the country are leaving the bowl of candy on the porch -- because they’re in Denver, Colorado for the American Public Health Association’s annual meeting and exposition. Few were sporting Batman or Wonder Woman costumes, but their work to protect laborers in the workplace is bordering on heroic.

This morning, MCN’s Amy Liebman, MPA, Director of Environmental and Occupational Health participated in a roundtable entitled, “Mobilizing Safer Environments for International and Immigrant Workplaces,” in which she presented on MCN’s Seguridad en las lecherías.

Seguridad is an award-winning health and safety intervention project for dairy workers in the US. The project, developed in coordination with the National Farm Medicine Center and the Upper Midwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center, uses a popular education model that includes worker training and promotores de salud (or Community Health Workers) to reduce worksite hazards and to improve worker knowledge and practices. Seguridad was presented alongside international model projects aiming to keep vulnerable workers safe in Pakistan, Korea, Costa Rica, and parts of the US. Roughly 45 people attended the roundtable.

“The Seguridad project showed us that we can engage workers and farmers, offer validated health and safety interventions, and together make a significant and lasting impact on worker safety,” Liebman said. “It is always exciting to share your work at APHA. This roundtable session was particularly noteworthy as it was encouraging to see so many projects working to address the health and safety needs of vulnerable workers. ”

Later today, Liebman will present on occupational health and safety in the primary care setting, sharing research MCN conducted with community health centers that examined challenges to addressing work-related health concerns.

Concurrently, MCN’s Ileana Ponce-Gonzalez, MD, MPCH, CNC, Senior Advisor for Scientific and Strategic Planning will be discussing her successful experience in training promotores de salud or Community Health Workers on the social determinants in health and the principles of public health, in our two wildly popular webinar series in Spanish from earlier this year and last year. Participants from across the country and Spanish-speaking nations around the world rated the webinar series very highly. The two sets (archived on our website) filled a gap in training for CHWs on some of the issues that directly affect the health of their patients.

In the next two days, both Liebman and Dr. Ponce-Gonzalez will offer more presentations highlighting the health and safety of vulnerable populations. Liebman presents tomorrow on the One Health approach for Spanish-speaking dairy workers. An integral piece of animal safety training is understanding animal behavior; higher familiarity with the animals can decrease risk. One Health advocates that what’s good for the health of the animals is also good for the workers.

On Wednesday, Dr. Ponce-Gonzalez presents on diabetes prevention and self-management education, reporting out on the success of the Diabetes Self-Management Program that she worked on with the Group Health Research Institute. The program started three new DSMP programs in English and Spanish in Washington State to increase the effectiveness of diabetes care among vulnerable populations.

MCN's Amy Liebman (right) and Rosie Sokas, from MCN's Board of Directors, both serve on APHA Governing Council

This is Liebman’s first APHA conference in her new role on APHA’s Governing Council, which also meets during the three-day event to discuss policy and executive team items. Liebman is the immediate past chair of APHA’s Occupational Health and Safety Section.

And big congratulations to MCN’s former public health intern and Bethany Boggess, who is this year’s recipient of the Lorin Kerr Award, an APHA/Occupational Health and Safety Section honor recognizing public health professionals for their dedication and sustained efforts to improve the lives of workers. “Boggess took on a study of chronic kidney disease at a health center in South Texas and helped MCN establish CKDnt as a critical issue for migrants,” noted MCN’s Deliana Garcia.

If you, too, would like to forgo the goblins at the door and instead partake in the remaining days of APHA’s conference, visit APHA’s website to see the schedule at a glance and to register.


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