Southeastern professor participates in health protection for shrimpers
Contact: Elise Doster
HAMMOND – Southeastern Louisiana University nursing professor Ann Carruth is participating in a regional project focused on worker health protection of Vietnamese shrimp fishermen along the Gulf Coast.
In cooperation with the Southwest Center for Agricultural Health, Injury Prevention, and Education, supported by a cooperative agreement from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), Carruth and U.S. Coast Guard members have participated in providing basic health screenings and safety training to hundreds of Vietnamese shrimp fishermen.
Originally funded by an $850,000 NIOSH grant, Carruth said the five-year project, now in its third year, has helped Vietnamese fishermen who otherwise have limited access to health care and vessel safety information.
The project’s principal investigator is Jeffrey Levin, Southwest Center for Agricultural Health, Injury Prevention, and Education, which is housed at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler. Levin has coordinated the participation of Carruth, 12 other healthcare professionals and District 8 Coast Guard members in information sessions and health screenings throughout the Louisiana and Texas Gulf Coast regions.
About every three months, Carruth and the team travel to various communities to hold information sessions in Vietnamese, providing a translator so fishermen can ask questions without a language barrier.
“Fishermen have a very high death rate because they face dangerous situations every day and, in general, have not had much access to safety education or health care,” said Carruth. “We hope that providing the safety education in the Vietnamese language as well as health information and screening will prolong their lives.”
U.S. Coast Guardsmen and Coordinator of Commercial Fishing Vessel Safety (CFVS) Michael White said more than 200 Gulf Coast fishermen have participated in the community outreach project and that a positive relationship between the Coast Guard and Vietnamese has been created.
“Since starting the worker protection project, we have noticed a new feeling of trust from the fishermen,” said White. “We interact with them on a daily basis, and it’s really great that they know we are looking out for their best interest.”
Carruth said she is also collecting data from the Vietnamese populations to study their behavioral changes and health adoption success.
“We have been very successful so far,” said Carruth. “This has been a very improved, grassroots effort to educate the Vietnamese about their safety, and the response has been positive. They are taking their health much more seriously now and are not afraid to ask for help if they need it.”
Carruth and the Southeastern School of Nursing previously teamed with the Southwest Center for Agricultural Health, Injury Prevention, and Education and NIOSH on a four-year project, “Education for Louisiana Farm Family Injury Prevention and Health Initiative.” The project brought information about health and safety to farming communities in 10 southeast Louisiana parishes.