Implementing Telemedicine at a Student-Run Free Clinic For The Farmworker Population of Apopka, FL
In 2016, MedPACt, the University of Central Florida (UCF) College of Medicine's global health interest group, joined with the UCF College of Nursing to launch a student-run, interdisciplinary free clinic in Apopka, Florida in partnership with the Farmworker’s Association of Florida. The Apopka Clinic provides convenient and culturally-sensitive care to the medically underserved farmworker population, many of whom only speak Spanish or Haitian Creole. Migrant farmworkers seen at the clinic often face language barriers, work conflicts, and fear of retaliation when seeking care. MedPACt aims to reduce some of these structural barriers through collaboration with the Farmworker’s Association of Apopka—hosting clinics at a highly accessible Farmworker’s Association building, recruiting Spanish-speaking volunteers, scheduling the clinic at convenient times for the patients, and implementing patient education as a required portion of appointments. Over the past four years, an average of 91 patients have been served at each clinic.
With the recent implementation of social distancing guidelines, our in-person June clinic is currently unfeasible. To continue serving this population while still following COVID-19 guidelines, we are performing a needs-based assessment on patient charts collected from previous clinics. We plan to reach out through telehealth to patients who require follow-up or medication refills. Through our collaboration with the Farmworker’s Association of Florida and our school’s faculty physicians, we will continue serving patients by extending them the opportunity to interact with specialties that include internal medicine, pediatrics, and dermatology. By working with the schools of pharmacy, social work, and physical therapy, we will maintain the same interdisciplinary approach that we carried out during our in-person clinics. The farmworker population may be severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, further emphasizing the importance of hosting a telehealth virtual clinic this June. Based on the way that we are able to implement telehealth, we will also be looking to continue using this service in the future to expand the number of patients we are able to continue contact with, even outside of in-person clinics.