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Half Moon Bay event highlights safety measures, health care for farmworkers

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More than two dozen farmworkers from around Half Moon Bay gathered Tuesday night to learn about ways to stay safe from electrical hazards, as well as newly expanded health care opportunities.

Half Moon Bay event highlights safety measures, health care for farmworkers
Retired PG&E lineman Felix Morales (front) demonstrates ways to stay safe from electrical hazards. (Credit: Manuel Ortiz P360P)

HALF MOON BAY, California ? More than two dozen farmworkers from around Half Moon Bay gathered Tuesday night for a community event that highlighted ways to stay safe around downed power lines and other electrical hazards. Speakers also offered information on the newly expanded Medi-Cal system Of California .

Hosted by Ethnic Media Services and Peninsula 360 Press, the event aimed to address the need for greater and better access to critical safety and healthcare information for the farmworker community.

Mayor Joaquín Jiménez, Half Moon Bay's first Latino mayor and long-time advocate for the city's farmworkers, opened the event and highlighted the many challenges they face.

Describing the conditions under which they work as a form of "modern slavery," Jimenez said farmworkers are too often at the mercy of the employers they depend on for everything from wages to housing, food and transportation. medical attention.

Half Moon Bay Mayor Joaquín Jiménez opened Tuesday's event in Half Moon Bay. (Credit: Peter Schurmann)

Greater access to information in their own language is a key piece to helping improve conditions, he said.

Most farmworkers in Half Moon Bay, a small coastal community about 40 miles south of San Francisco, are from Mexico or Central America and speak Spanish as their primary language. There is also a small group of Chinese farm workers whose presence went almost completely unnoticed until a tragic shooting last year that claimed the lives of seven people, five of them Chinese.

Tuesday's event was a unique opportunity to bring the two communities together to share information and celebrate their contributions to the city and county.

Held inside the impressive Half Moon Bay Public Library, speakers included retired PG&E lineman Felix Morales, who wowed the gathering with an electrified model made to look like Main Street Half Moon Bay. Morales demonstrated the risks when someone inadvertently comes into contact with a power line or other energy source and offered tips on how to stay safe.

More than two dozen farmworkers from around Half Moon Bay gathered Tuesday night to learn about ways to stay safe from electrical hazards, as well as newly expanded health care opportunities. (Credit: Manuel Ortiz P360P)

Grabbing a small twig, Morales showed how even a freshly fallen branch or tree can become ?grounded? when a beam of white-hot electricity jumps from the wires to the twig. He also discussed the need to use caution when digging to avoid buried power lines and to be careful with overhead wires when laying irrigation pipes and other farm equipment.

Residents are urged to dial 811 for any safe digging projects. Customers should contact PG&E and 911 if they encounter downed power lines or other electrical hazards.

It is estimated that nationwide up to 4,000 people suffer electrical injuries each year. With winter storm season still in full swing here in California, farmworkers face additional risks given the threat of falling trees and damage to power lines.

A second workshop on health care featured Rommel Silva, outreach supervisor for the San Mateo County Department of Human Services,  who spoke about California's recently expanded Medi-Cal system, which as of January 1 of this year is available to all eligible residents, regardless of their immigration status.

A mother listens as county representatives talk about California's newly expanded Medi-Cal system, which as of Jan. 1 became available to all eligible residents, regardless of immigration status. (Credit: Peter Schurmann)

The expansion, part of California's Health Care for All initiative, makes Medi-Cal (the state's version of the federally funded Medicaid program) available to all qualified residents, including undocumented immigrants, ages 26 to 49. . Previous expansions expanded care to older adults and children.

The expansion includes a dramatic expansion of health care services offered through what is known as Full Scope Medi-Cal, including medical, dental, vision and mental health treatments, along with a variety of other services intended to address broader healthcare needs. of low-income Californians.

Previous studies have found that dental care and mental health treatments are among the top priorities for undocumented farmworkers in California, which this year became the first state in the nation to make federally subsidized health care available to all. eligible undocumented immigrants.

A traditional Guatemalan performance followed the Lion Dancers. (Credit: Manuel Ortiz P360P)

Representatives from community organizations, including Self Help for the Elderly, Casa Circulo in Redwood City and Chinese for Affirmative Action, were also present Tuesday. Tables with information on healthcare and other services were also made available.

The event was sponsored by PG&E and closed with a lion dance in celebration of the Lunar New Year and in recognition of the Chinese farmworker community, followed by a traditional Guatemalan dance group. Attendees then enjoyed Mexican and Chinese food and were invited to take a closer look (still from a safe distance) at Morales' model.

You may be interested in: Joaquín Jiménez, from Mexican migrant to mayor of Half Moon Bay

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