Mexican Doctors Arrive in the Salinas Valley Lending a helping hand with COVID-19 vaccinations

Olga Padrón, Eva Perusquía, Ismael Rodríguez and Edgar Robles work at the farmworker vaccination clinic in King City | Itzel Castro


By Itzel Castro 

Unable to fully help in the COVID-19 vaccination efforts in their native country, Mexican doctors have arrived in the Salinas Valley to aid migrants.

Several Mexican doctors have hit town to assist Clínica de Salud del Valle de Salinas with COVID-19 vaccinations and other health care needs of farmworkers. The doctors couldn’t vaccinate in México since the military is administering vaccines, but their helping hands are welcomed here as local health officials urgently try to increase vaccination rates. About 222,000 residents have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Monterey County Health Department.

“We are excited that they can come and help get more of our workers and our families vaccinated,” said Monterey County Supervisor Luis Alejo. “It really shows this effort to combat this pandemic is not only a California one, but in this case it is an international one.”


Farmworkers sit for a 15-minute observation period after they receive their shot | Itzel Castro

The effort to bring 10 Mexican doctors, on a three-year AB 1045 visa, to practice medicine in the Salinas Valley was facilitated by Dr. Max Cuevas, CEO of Clínica de Salud, and Dr. Miguel Ángel of Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. The doctors will work in clinics in Pajaro, Castroville, Salinas, Chualar, Soledad, Greenfield and King City, which primarily serve the agricultural community.

“There is a great need for something like this, a project that is going to provide high-quality medical services,” said Erick Lόpez, community health service manager at Clínica de Salud. “They are excited about the project and about the opportunity to be able to serve their community in the United States.”

Despite the enthusiasm, there are some challenges, since some of the doctors have only practiced medicine in México. For instance, Edgar Robles, a 38-year-old doctor from Morelos, had only visited the United States on vacation.

“It is a challenge because it is a change of country, culture and system,” said Robles, in Spanish. “But in the end we are doctors and the human being is the same no matter the country.”

Most said they are grateful for the ability to help farmworkers in their home away from home, since the doctors will be able to provide medical services in their own language to a neglected population.

“Farmworkers have been very marginalized during the pandemic not only in the United States, but also in our own country,” said Eva Perusquía, a 50-year-old doctor from Querétaro. “So being able to give them that attention is something very significant for us.”

As the short-staffed Clínica de Salud tries to vaccinate thousands of farmworkers each week more and more of their temporary doctors continue to arrive like Olga Padrón, a 31-year-old doctor from Monterrey, who was one of the first to arrive in the last few weeks.

“I feel a lot of emotion every time I think about everything we had to go through to get here and then see it almost materialized in this type of event,” said Padrón, in Spanish. “To see our people and know that we are going to be able to help them is one of the greatest things that has ever happened to me.”

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Itzel Castro

About Itzel Castro

Itzel Castro is a writer from the Salinas Valley. Her work focuses on the farmworker community in the 'Salad Bowl of the World'. She is finally home.