In Memory of Dr. Paul Monahan
“I speak specifically here of the loopholes in current laws, which exempt migrant and seasonal farmworkers and farmers from basic worker protection standards afforded to all other workers and child labor laws which do the same. There is movement towards promulgating both of those at this time. One of my colleagues, Dr. Paul Monahan, who is sitting in the back row, has information on each of these. The group within migrant health that takes a strong advocacy role is the Migrant Clinicians Network, and I believe he has copies of the position papers on both of those laws….” -Bobbi Ryder, then Executive Director of the National Migrant Resource Program, speaking at the Surgeon General’s Conference on Agricultural Safety and Health in 1991
Paul Monahan, MD, a physician and vocal advocate for farmworker health, passed away last week at the age of 79. As one of Migrant Clinicians Network’s first members of the Board of Directors, Dr. Monahan inspired our path forward to advocate for the health and safety of agricultural workers who have to move regularly to find work.
In 1978, Dr. Monahan co-founded the Yakima Valley Farmworker Clinic in Washington, which has since grown substantially. “He was always very committed to the farmworker population, and tried very hard to make sure that the clinic, as it grew, never lost that sense of mission and purpose,” recalled Karen Mountain, RN, MCN’s CEO.
Dr. Monahan joined MCN’s Board of Directors in the 80s when Migrant Clinicians Network, as a new nonprofit, was just finding its feet as it spun off from parent organization, National Migrant Resource Program. In the following decades, Dr. Monahan continued his efforts to improve migrant health, supporting MCN as a speaker on migrant issues, and keeping in touch via Stream Forum or other migrant health conferences.
Dr. Monahan worked with Deliana Garcia, MCN’s Director of International Projects and Emerging Issues, on a pesticide exposure advisory committee to the Environmental Protection Agency in the 90s. “He was a long-time hero of migrant health,” Garcia stated.
Mountain recalls Dr. Monahan’s influence in her early years at MCN, when she was hired on as MCN’s CEO, three decades ago. “Dr. Monahan had a quiet passion and determination to make things right for people who needed him the most,” Mountain said, who added that he had a “gentle force for the needs of farmworkers.”
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