Donalsonville - A sore throat, heart murmur, even a tummy ache, all symptoms most American children can have treated at any time. But migrant kids don't even complain about their aches and pains. It wouldn't do them any good, because a doctor isn't an option.
"We in public health saw the need. Number one is the fact that we can provide healthcare for a population that many of them have never seen a provider before," says Nurse Practitioner, and director of Decatur County Health Department, Charles Taylor. For seven years he has taken medical teams into migrant camps and summer schools.
He says, "We just do a complete medical assessment at no charge, you know, the taxpayers pick up the bill." And though some people complain about the migrant workers receiving free treatment when some South Georgians can't afford it, Taylor says they are protecting the community against diseases brought into the community by migrant workers.
"It is needed and it's vital and it provides a lot of good in the lives of these kids," says Taylor. When the kids hop onto the exam table, for most of them it's the first time they've had any access to the heath care system, and unfortunately it will be the last time they see healthcare workers until this time next year.
Taylor says, "We feel like we are protecting our community. Not to degrade or downgrade this patient population, but we help them and we help ourselves as well. This is a real plus in the lives of these kids." Kids who deserve to live a healthy, happy life.
Next week, a team from Emory University and the Decatur County Health Department will go into actual migrant camps to treat the workers.