OEM Fellows Reach Low-wage Workers in Underserved Communities

Funded by a three year training grant from Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), UCSF’s Occupational and Environmental Medicine (OEM) program has partnered with three community clinics to offer outreach services to low-wage, immigrant workers.

The goal of the grant, spearheaded by COEH faculty Gina Solomon, is to familiarize UCSF Fellows with occupational and environmental health issues facing California’s most vulnerable populations.

"The effective practice of occupational medicine requires not only an understanding of diagnosis and treatment, but also a grasp of the social, economic, legal and psychological stressors that affect individuals and groups in society,” says Solomon. “Working with underserved and vulnerable communities is essential for comprehending the cultural and social dimensions of the challenges we face in occupational medicine."

Fellows will provide clinic staff and physicians with OEM training, on-call assistance and workplace wellness. They will also supply onsite consultation services to support the medical team for approximately a half-day per month.

Three clinics are participating: Asian Health Services in Oakland, which serves low-wage workers from nail salon, garment and restaurant industries; Planned Parenthood Mar Monte in Watsonville where, in addition to addressing reproductive health, they provide service to farmworkers; and Clinic Ole in Napa, which treats agriculture and service sector workers from the North Bay.  Several UCSF clinical faculty have volunteered to precept the residents paired to each site.

Solomon is co-director of the UCSF OEM Residency and Fellowship Program. She is a clinical professor of medicine at UCSF, the associate director of the UCSF Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit and a senior scientist for the Natural Resources Defense Council. She credits Bob Harrison, Rachel Roisman and Jayshree Chander from UCSF’s OEM program for helping the project take off.

The UCSF OEM training program was created in 1977 as a component of the University of California Center for Occupational and Environmental Health.