Echols County - Migrant workers play a major role in both the state and country's economy.
Often working for minimum wage or less, several clinics have been established around the state to offer these workers and their families' affordable health care. Steve Graham has run the Georgia Farmworker Clinic in Echols County for 6 years. "There are six clinics in the state of Georgia. We are one of the 6. But to my knowledge we are the only independently owned clinics," says Steve Graham, President and CEO of Georgia Farmworker Clinic.
This means the clinic pays its own way and is then reimbursed by the state. But after 3 months of delayed payment, the clinic was forced to shut its doors and its employees laid off. "I can only privately fund an agency for so long before it starts to impact other businesses and I can't afford for that to take place," he adds.
Since the clinic shut down a week ago, one of the three late payments has arrived. Graham hopes the other two will come quickly so he can reopen. But this will still take time. "Because we laid the staff off, we now have to go back through and rehire the staff and recredential because since we let them go, we have to put them through the recredential process to be able to get them back to work."
He hopes to have the clinic up and running in the next few weeks.