From NapaValleyRegister.com, Rebecca Huval, 25 Apr 2011.
Aristeo Mendosa looked away as his finger was pricked for a blood screening.
“I have to close my eyes,” Mendosa said in Spanish. “I can’t look at blood.”
The 52-year old farmworker had been to the doctor only two times in the past 20 years, he said. He decided to sign up last week for a health care screening provided by his employer, Frog’s Leap Vineyard.
“Maybe I have a sickness and don’t know about it,” Mendosa said.
He was one of 37 who signed up for the first farmworker health screening of the season coordinated by St. Helena Hospital and Community Health Clinic Ole. The employees were screened for osteoporosis, blood sugar, cholesterol and risk of diabetes.
Clinic Ole physicians donate their time to about six farmworker health screenings a year, and the St. Helena Hospital screens 35 to 40 employees at a cost of $180.
The farmworker population is at risk for certain diseases, such as hypertension and diabetes, but the workers often don’t visit the doctor, said Linda Schultz, community services director at St. Helena Hospital.
“We might find people who have high blood pressure,” Schultz said. “It’s a stressful time in any industry. We also find high cholesterol. Some of it can be attributed to heredity, and the counterpart to that is lifestyle.”
The workers rarely have osteoporosis because most of them have active jobs, and standing challenges your bones, the physicians said.
But it’s common for them to not have gone to a doctor in years, especially if the workers don’t have health insurance, said Arturo Fernandez, outreach and education manager at Community Health Clinic Ole.
“For the ones that migrate from place to place, their main focus is on working as much as possible,” Fernandez said. “They don’t focus (as much) on their personal health.”
That’s why Edibel Deibert, human resources manager at Frog’s Leap, petitioned the company to sponsor the health screenings two years ago.
“I love this,” Deibert said at the screening. “There are employees who don’t have the chance to go to the doctor. And it’s a warning for some — ‘Oh, I have to exercise and watch my blood sugar.’”
It was certainly a wake-up call for Gilberto Cisneros, 50, of St. Helena, who has visited the doctor twice in the seven years since he moved from Oaxaca, Mexico.
At the screening, he was told: “You have a bit of osteoporosis,” by Yesenia Gutierrez, a job care specialist at St. Helena Hospital. “I’m also going to recommend you see a doctor.”
Cisneros was taken aback, but glad to catch the problem.
“I know that calcium is good for your bones,” Cisneros said. “I think I need to drink more milk.
“I feel more of a need to go to the doctor, to make myself better,” he said.