More than 100 female workers from Costa Layman Farms were invited to take advantage of the 17th annual Costa Layman Women’s Clinic hosted by Augusta University’s College of Nursing at Ridge Spring Family Practice in Ridge Spring, South Carolina.
The free clinic, part of an ongoing partnership with Carolina Health Centers of Greenwood, South Carolina, provided health services consisting of lab work, flu shots, eye exams and complete physicals. Mobile mammography was provided by Self Memorial Hospital in Greenwood, South Carolina, in conjunction with the South Carolina Best Chance Network. This year, the local Lions Club was on hand to provide additional vision screenings, and, in keeping with tradition, the Castro family of North Augusta provided a clothes closet.
Costa Layman Farms, a Miami-based horticulture industry, supports all health care events for its employees by providing dedicated staff to help coordinate registration and transportation.
Claudia Senn, people business partner for the facility, is thankful for the annual clinic.
“The majority of them, if they don’t have this type of help, then they’ll probably never get checked because, without insurance, medical isn’t very affordable,” Senn said. “With this, we are covering them for the hours they are here so they can be seen.”
Pam Cromer, DNP, professor of nursing, Advanced Practice Registered Nurse clinical coordinator and director of the Interdisciplinary Costa Layman Community Health Outreach Programs for the College of Nursing, said the benefit is reciprocated for the College of Nursing students.
“This is an interesting and very valuable experience for our College of Nursing, for our university and for our rural health community,” she said. “Our curriculum is focused on rural health initiatives and high-quality community-engaged partnerships throughout all of our communities to help achieve that goal.”
The partnership with CHC spans over 10 years and has provided needed health care services, including annual health fairs and flu clinics, as well as COVID clinics. This relationship with Augusta University allows a myriad of interdisciplinary teams to reach out to rural communities bringing convenient and needed services to populations, identifying issues early and emphasizing self-care, shared decision-making, as well as providing appropriate referral-based care for follow-up.
Carolina Health Centers, a federally funded community health center with 13 satellite offices throughout the Lakelands area on the border of Georgia and South Carolina, has become a large part of the College of Nursing’s outreach program, according to Cromer.
Faculty and students attended training sessions two weeks prior to familiarize themselves with the electronic medical record system and prepare for the daylong activities of the clinic.
Locke Simons, PhD, chief medical officer at Carolina Health Centers, oversaw clinic operations and provided needed prescriptions and consultations throughout the day. He sees the women’s clinic as an extension of their farm worker migrant clinic program. The center already provides migrant clinics every Saturday throughout the year until the fall, when it’s held twice a month.
“For us, we’re not always able to capture the preventative health aspect so it does help us be able to reach out even more to that population for more preventative health measures,” Simons said. “Oftentimes we see them for acute problems, but it’s harder sometimes to get them in for preventative care. It helps us to expand our reach.”
The success of the clinic wouldn’t be as great without both Carolina Health Centers and the College of Nursing working together.
“I don’t think they could do it as well without us,” he said, laughing, “and we couldn’t reach as many ladies in a single day without them.”
For nursing student Caroline Underwood, who is completing her Doctorate of Nurse Practitioner degree in the Family Nurse Practitioner Nursing Program, this was the first time she had taken part in the women’s clinic.
“Access to care is so important. We are meeting these women where they’re at and helping them get free medical care that they need,” Underwood said. “It’s also a great learning opportunity. I love giving back to the community, especially to these women who work so hard; they’re appreciative of what we’re doing here, and that makes you feel good.
“I’m so thankful to Augusta University for enabling us to have this opportunity to not only learn but also to give back to people who are so appreciative and so deserving of this care. It’s a really unique and cool opportunity.”
“To overcome the barrier, we partnered with our Wellstar MCG Health Interpreter and Translation Services Department,” she said, as well as students in the Department of English and World Languages in Pamplin College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.
“I love giving back to the community, especially to these women who work so hard; they’re appreciative of what we’re doing here, and that makes you feel good. I’m so thankful to Augusta University for enabling us to have this opportunity to not only learn but also to give back to people who are so appreciative and so deserving of this care. It’s a really unique and cool opportunity.”Caroline Underwood, nursing student completing her Doctorate of Nurse Practitioner degree in the Family Nurse Practitioner Nursing Program
Maria Branyan, who is pursuing her Bachelor of Arts with a concentration in Spanish in Pamplin College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, was one of the translators at the women’s clinic.
A native of Panama, Branyan moved to the United States with her husband at the age of 28 when the U.S. Army stationed him at Fort Gordon. She has worked as an interpreter for the Richmond County Public Defender’s Office for a year and a half and decided to further her education at Augusta University to pursue a career as a translator in the medical field.
While this was the first clinic she had taken part in, it’s an experience she won’t soon forget as her role was vital in communicating what issues some women were experiencing and conveying back to the women the input from those in the room.
“I admire the partnership between Augusta University and Carolina Health Center and what these groups of people were doing for those women and the heart and the passion they put into each patient that entered their room,” Branyan said. “It isn’t something they were doing because it was free or they were just doing it for school. That’s not what was happening there. What was happening in those rooms were people eager to help, people willing to share their time and their knowledge and just be there for those women. I admire their dedication. That changed me. I went in as one person and left that place as a different person. It had a great impact on me.”
The women’s clinic and the partnerships it fosters are beneficial not only to Augusta University but also to the community.
“The long-term partnership with Costa Layman Farms is truly a win-win situation. Costa Layman Farms allows us to come and bring our students, and they support the efforts of the College of Nursing to engage our Hispanic communities, helping to keep their workers and the surrounding communities in which they live healthier and productive,” said Cromer. “The impact is tremendous. Health care is extremely important, and it is very expensive. We find programs and services to do our work at low costs, and it teaches the workers the concepts of self-care, disease management, health promotion and prevention. It also connects our rural communities to appropriate resources and low-cost, referral-based, follow-up care.”
“The long-term partnership with Costa Layman Farms is truly a win-win situation. Costa Layman Farms allows us to come and bring our students, and they support the efforts of the College of Nursing to engage our Hispanic communities, helping to keep their workers and the surrounding communities in which they live healthier and productive.”Pam Cromer, DNP professor of nursing, Advanced Practice Registered Nurse clinical coordinator and director of the Interdisciplinary Costa Layman Community Health Outreach Programs for the College of Nursing
Faculty, students and Carolina Health Center’s community outreach workers will return to the farm to deliver screenings and lab reports on Dec. 1. Plans for the summer program are underway and will be announced in January. To volunteer for a future event, contact Cromer by email at email@example.com or by mail at 987 St. Sebastian Way, Augusta, GA 30912.