Desravines

Doctor noted for treatment migrant farmworkers who come to Oswego County


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2008 Healthcare Hero
Marie-Jeanne Desravines
Physician—Fulton

Desravines earned her medical degree from SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse in 1994. She is a native of New York City. She works out of the Fulton Health Center as a family medicine physician and physician leader.

Ellen Holst, director of the health division of Oswego County Opportunities, headquartered in Fulton, nominated Desravines for the award. "Desravines has tirelessly provided primary and hospital care for the past seven years to some of Oswego County's poorest patients," she said. "She insists on quality, comprehensive care for all. As physician leader, she leads her staff to excel in all that they do, quietly but routinely making changes to improve healthcare delivery," Holst added.

In addition to providing primary care to the patients at OCO's Fulton Health Center, Desravines provides primary and acute care to migrant farmworkers who come to Oswego County and contiguous counties to plant, tend and harvest crops grown locally.She does this through evening clinics that are held either at the Fulton Health Center or at the many campsites throughout Oswego County. "She has become well versed in healthcare issues that are unique to migrant farm workers or exacerbated by their working conditions," Holst said. "Desravines donates not only her time but dollars to assist this population as well as to assist the other vulnerable patients in our area," Holst added. "She and her father sponsor a needy school in Haiti, contributing dollars for supplies, etc."

Desravines enjoys music and the arts, and often supports local talent and performances.

For Paul Barlow, a patient of Desravines, the physician is indeed his Healthcare Hero. "I have had six female doctors, but she is the best and smartest," Barlow said. "She has a great personality and bedside manner. She takes the time to go over all your records and asks if you have any questions," he added. Most of all, she treats you like family."

"I like the people and patients that I work with," Desravines said. "Some of the patients can be trying, but it comes with the territory." She finds it particularly frustrating to deal with patients who have no intentions of wanting to help themselves. "It takes a lot of work to get them to realize they are important," she said. "Especially mothers, who tend to put everyone else ahead of them. I tell them, ‘You can't be there for your kids if you are not healthy,'" she said.

Desravines said her listening skills help in her role as healthcare professional. "I try to shut up long enough to let patients get in what they have to say before I start talking," she said.

As for migrant workers, Desravines said some of the more common healthcare issues she confronts involve high blood pressure, diabetes and a slew of musculoskeletal problems such as back issues. "What they do is so labor intensive," she said. "It involves heavy lifting and bending over to pick crops."

Desravines said continuity of care can sometimes be problematic. "However, I have many patients who have been with me since I've been here," she said. Many immigrant workers do travel extensively and meet with different physicians, but Desravines does see many of the same people year in and year out.

Tending to the healthcare needs of migrant workers does differ from treating the average patient, Desravines noted. "For some, it may be the only time we get to see them, so we fix as much as we can in one visit if possible," she said. She said the transient migrant population goes wherever "the migrant flow takes them."

Desravines said she enjoys working with the migrant population, and noted that they are quite appreciative of healthcare services offered after work hours are over.
(By Lou Sorendo)