Ryan Henry Gundersen Health System
Monroe County rural roads are usually reserved for tractors, pickups and Amish buggies. It pulls into a preselected farm gravel road, opens the door, and invites workers suffering from physical ailments (usually migrant workers from Central America) to step inside.
Last fall, Gundersen Health System physicians and residents joined the St. Clair Health Mission to provide healthcare services on-site at the St. Clair Rotary Mobile Clinic, a full-scale, full-service family medicine unit announced in August. Did. The aim was to better equip the two organizations to meet the needs of the unprotected population of La Crosse, who have been visiting weekly since 2020.
But the team discovered another need. She is one of those people living and working in rural areas who are unfamiliar with the U.S. healthcare system and face several barriers to getting much-needed care. So, starting in October, the team left for the country on two Fridays each month (they call them Fridays at the Farm). This rotates between Gundersen’s services, several farms in his area that employ mostly migrant workers.
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Led by Principal Physician and Program Coordinator, Dr. Sarah Brown, and joined by Resident Physician of Gundersen’s Family Medicine Residency Program and St. Clair’s Executive Director, Jason Larsen, the team sees between 4 and 15 patients per visit. It provides consultations and emergency medical services. Disease management services, including diabetes and cholesterol checks. It also deals with unexpected injuries that occur while working on the farm.
“Musculoskeletal injuries are fairly common,” Dr. Brown said. “There were other unique cases, including rare neurological disorders and many chronic conditions.”
She said many of the rural patients they encounter can be treated at local hospitals and clinics, but they are primarily on an emergency basis. Treat the condition early to avoid trips to the treatment room.
“We’re getting to know a lot of people over time,” Dr. Brown said. “We are trying to keep people connected to the health system or build bridges to health care where possible.”
But that’s not the only purpose of the program. As a training tool for residents, they can work in environments that help foster a deeper understanding of the social determinants of health—the constraints in people’s daily lives that limit their access to the health care system. .
“Given these constraints, we need to be creative in using our knowledge and skill sets to choose the right medication and the right care plan,” Dr. Brown said. There are many people in the affected communities who are unable to apply best practice care in medicine because they cannot live according to the treatment plans we are trying to develop.”
Second-year resident Dr. Kate Edsall made her second farm visit on December 2nd. She was on a local surgical rotation and had time to accompany Dr. Brown and the mobile medical team. For her, her farm rounds allow her to get to know people in the community she would otherwise never meet.
“This is our community,” Dr. Edsall said. “It’s part of our community, but when we’re on the walls of the clinic, we don’t always see all of it. It takes a little scratching beneath the surface.”
She said the people she sees are doing a great job of taking care of themselves despite facing barriers to healthcare.
“Many of the patients here are very proactive about their care and know their family histories well,” Dr. Edsall said. “Being able to bring care to people and help break down some of those barriers is a really great opportunity and something we should do if we want to have healthy communities.”
According to Dr. Edsall, the study serves as a reminder of why she started medicine.
“Most of us, especially in the field of family medicine, are concerned about healthy communities and want to do this to help all get decent health care and to close the gaps in health care inequalities. “It puts you back on purpose and helps to energize you through the rest of the difficult rotations and the hard things we do during training. It’s very has grounds.”
As an organization, Gundersen makes caring for people and their communities a top priority, and as members of our communities, our farm workers should receive the same care.
“We view health care as a fundamental human right,” said Dr. Brown. “Not only is caring for people the morally right choice, but caring for people on a regular basis can help prevent long-term complications from illness, prevent overuse of emergency services, and reduce hospitalization rates. We hope that it will help reduce the
And thanks to the Gundersen Medical Foundation fundraiser, enough money has been raised to fund the program by May 31, 2024, so this mobile health effort will continue.program, online foundation.gundersenhealth.org/donate-nowsee Mobile Healthcare by selecting “Other” in the dropdown menu, or stop by the Foundation office at 201 Third St. N.