Salud Auction Benefits Oregon’s Seasonal Workers

By Lauren Fogelstrom

Catlin Gabel School, Catlin Speak

Last weekend on Nov. 15, Salud held their 23rd annual Oregon Pinot Noir Auction benefiting the seasonal workers of the Willamette Valley. Patrons from the Portland area and beyond donated money to the cause, raising over $700,000 in total.

Salud was founded in 1991 by winery owner Nancy Ponzi, Dr. Larry Hornick, and Dr. Jim Radcliff. Their mission statement is to “provide access to healthcare services for Oregon’s seasonal vineyard workers and their families.”

Many vineyard workers rely solely on the income they earn during the harvest season to support themselves and their families for the entire year. Since harvest lasts only a few months, a majority of Oregon’s vineyard workers move from crop to crop during this time to make the most of the season. Unfortunately, because of these temporary employment statuses, seasonal workers receive no health care benefits or insurance. Furthermore, without insurance, most workers tend to avoid professional health services until their issues are severe.

Salud aims to assist these workers through a partnership created between several various Oregon vintners and Tuality Healthcare physicians. Physicians travel throughout Oregon’s Willamette Valley to offer free on-site wellness screenings. Their clinics include cholesterol and diabetes testing, blood pressure checks, flu and tetanus vaccinations, and vision and dental screenings.

Last year, Salud documented 825 health screenings, which included 500 vaccinations, during a total of 17 clinic days. The organization assists around 40% of Oregon’s seasonal vineyard workers overall. Beyond medical attention, Salud also makes sure to follow up and check in with all of their registered patients, in order to prevent and identify health issues before they’re apparent again.

Most of their funding is raised during Salud’s annual auction, sponsored by the partnered Oregon wineries. Each of these brands produce an exclusive Salud cuvee in every vintage, and the proceeds are donated to the program. Because of their collaboration with private healthcare companies, each dollar donated to Salud provides three dollars of care for seasonal workers.

Salud’s program manager Leda Garside, who became involved with Salud in 1992, has contributed to both the organizational aspects of the program as well as the medical side. She is a registered nurse and finds her work inspiring.

She told CatlinSpeak, “The most rewarding thing for me is when a client shows me the changes they have made to improve their health (diet changes, exercise, better monitoring of their blood sugar), or call me directly to report test results made at the clinics…to see improvements of health, access to services and trusting relationships.”

The impact these clinics have on improving the health of seasonal workers has led Garside to reach further. She hopes to expand the program to include mental health clinics, since many migrant workers and their families experience stressful situations regularly, such as family separation or language obstacles. Salud has also started operating its own mobile clinic, which will allow for greater flexibility and a wider range of service.

Garside explained, “[Salud] has chipped away the many barriers migrant and seasonal agricultural workers face on a daily basis. The program brings awareness of the contributions this workforce bring to the economy of this industry and state. They are part of the fabric of our community.”

This program is unique to Oregon, as the only organization in the country supporting seasonal workers through access to health care. To learn more about Salud, visit their website athttp://www.saludauction.org/.

 

About Grace Masback

Grace Masback, 17, aspires to give voice to the voiceless and holds the modest ambition of becoming the voice of Gen Z. Frustrated by the dearth of impactful platforms for teen journalists, she founded WANT, a news, sports, and entertainment website that aggregates the best in high school journalism from school newspapers and teen bloggers around the world (www.wantnewsforteens.com).

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