Tag Archives: Debbie Layman

10th Anniversary: Costa Layman Health Fair celebrates decade of service

Ten years ago, Costa Layman Farms and the Georgia Regents University College of Nursing took a bold and important step into the field of personalized, preventive health care when they partnered to offer a health fair for workers at the South Carolina plant nursery.

At times the task proved daunting. Language barriers and social stigmas had the potential to make caring for farmworkers difficult, but with the leadership of GRU faculty, a commitment from student and alumni volunteers, and the help of community partners, the job became easier. Their efforts have resulted in more than 2,500 free health screenings for hundreds of farmworkers.

Years later, students and alumni say they continue to be inspired by their experiences at the Costa Layman Health Fair, which celebrates its 10th anniversary on Friday.

Two years ago, Allyson Wilson was a Clinical Nurse Leader student at GRU.

“As one of the student leaders of the health fair, I was responsible for organizing data collection as well as assisting in developing a data collection tool that allowed us to view trends in variables,” she said.

Wilson, now a Staff Nurse at Georgia Regents Medical Center, said the fair has become a regular part of her life.

“It was such a rewarding experience that I continued helping throughout the year with preparations for the fair,” she said. “I look forward to it every year, now. It’ll be something I’m involved with as long as I live in the area.”

Elisa Jenks, a Perinatal Staff Nurse at GRU, has a similar love for the fair. She said volunteering as a CNL student was a life-changing experience not only because of the lessons it taught her, but also because of the people it exposed her to.

“I love Hispanic culture,” said Jenks. “I’m always amazed by how kind the people are at the health fair. I’ve never been treated unkindly by anyone there. In fact, they’ve always greeted me with a smile.”

Jenks, the first recipient of the Layman Family Scholarship – a scholarship awarded to fluent Spanish-speaking students with a desire to serve Hispanic communities – said the health fair has helped her almost as much as some of the patients.

“I think I used to look at community health as a very foreign concept,” Jenks said. “Like, I’m this person that can make such a difference in other people’s lives. But that concept is so backwards. Being at the fair has taught me that I’m the one being impacted and changed.”

Aprile Osborn, a Biobehavioral Nursing instructor, volunteered as part of the 2009 health fair. She said her experience was very similar.

It was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever been a part of,” she said. “It was so humbling to be a part of something bigger than myself.”

Having grown up locally, Osborn said the health fair helped her to be understand the needs of the underserved.

Growing up in this community where access to healthcare is so readily available, it was hard for me to fathom people living otherwise,” she said. “Being involved in the Layman project really opened my eyes to a population that I knew existed, but had never really known.”

Jimmy George, a Physiological and Technological Nursing instructor, first participated in the 2011 health fair. He said he’s happy to see how far the health fair has come in that short amount of time.

“I am so excited to see the growth of the health fair each year,” he said. “It has only been possible by the selfless commitment and dedication of Pam Cromer and Debbie Layman.”

Based on the past year’s health fair experience, George and Cromer presented a podium presentation titled “CostaLayman Health Fair – A CNL organized, Interdisciplinary Initiative: A Model for Community-based Disease Prevention” in Dallas to a National CNL conference in October 2014.

Joshua Dunn, Stroke Program Coordinator at Emory University, said the health fair drove him to new heights and inspired him to continue helping others.

“I have continued my passion for outreach into underserved, underinsured populations within the metro-Atlanta area,” Dunn said. “That passion was definitely ignited that year at Layman’s Health Fair.”

But experience and passion aren’t the only things he took away from his time volunteering.

“I think of Debbie Layman (a College of Nursing alumnus and former manager at Costa Layman Farms) every time I’m in Lowe’s or Home Depot,” he said. “I see the plant carts labeled with Costa or Layman stamps, and think of those very sweet people in South Carolina. What a sweet woman, and such a dedicated group of individuals.”

The Costa Layman Health Fair celebrates its 10th anniversary on Friday, July 17, from 7 a.m. – 1 p.m. at Costa Layman Farms in Trenton, South Carolina.

To stay up to date with GRU’s College of Nursing, visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/GRUCONursing.

Scholarship recognizes students serving Hispanic populations

Trenton, S.C. – More than 100 people from Georgia Regents University volunteer to provide free health screenings at an annual health fair serving workers at one of the country’s largest perennial farms.

A few, however, in particular have been for their interest in serving Hispanic communities.

Every year, the Layman Family Scholarship Endowment awards an outstanding nursing student with a desire to contribute to the Latino community. The scholarship is awarded to a student who is fluent in Spanish and dedicated to helping those who are Spanish-speaking or Hispanic.

“I love the language. I love the culture,” said Elisa Jenks, the scholarship’s first recipient and a GRU College of Nursing Clinical Nurse Leader alumna who has returned to volunteer at the annual Costa Layman Health Fair in Trenton, S.C., for four years. “I have loved doing this ever since I was in school. My first year was my last year in nursing school. I have loved it and come back ever since.”

The event, in its 9th year, is sponsored by the GRU College of Nursing and coordinated by Clinical Nurse Leader students under the leadership of Dr. Pam Cromer. Last month, more than 300 workers received screenings of their eyes, teeth, skin, height, weight, blood pressure, body mass index, waist circumference, heel bone density, grip strength, pulmonary function, and more.

“I’ve developed a great relationship with this farm and these workers,” said Jenks, who now works in the Perinatal Unit at Georgia Regents Medical Center. “I think they saw my passion for this environment, for the Hispanic population.”

It’s a passion that has come full circle for Jenks.

Now a clinical instructor for the CNL program, she taught Maria Cleveland, the latest Layman scholarship recipient, in her first clinical setting.

“She’s a great student. She was very good with patients,” Jenks said. “Maria just shined. She’s a star. She loves her patients. She really cares about them, and you can see that.”

Cleveland, 26, of Augusta, said the health fair provided her with invaluable firsthand experience and exposure to community medicine, research, and language translation that she can use in her future career.

“Getting to be a CNL student is a stepping stone to what I’m going to do next. There are all sorts of different things you can do with a nursing degree,” said Cleveland, who earned her bachelor’s degree in International Relations and Spanish at Georgia Institute of Technology. “I was honored to be chosen for this scholarship. It’s been an absolute pleasure getting to know Ms. Debbie Layman. I’m really interested in getting out and working in communities. It’s been really interesting learning how a health fair like this is actually set up, what all goes into it, and how you can get the other disciplines involved.”

The health fair screenings are provided through an interdisciplinary effort in conjunction with the Medical College of Georgia, College of Dental Medicine, College of Allied Health Sciences, Institute of Public and Preventive Health, Georgia Prevention Center, and the Ryan White Program.

“So many people from Georgia Regents University volunteer at our annual health fair. They give their time and energy in an effort to provide our employees with information to make educated health care decisions and look after their future health and well-being,” said Debbie Layman, a manager at Costa Layman Farms and a College of Nursing alumna. “We’re grateful to them and for the dedication of our scholarship recipients.”

The health fair has grown, both in terms of number of volunteers and screenings provided. What started as a simple health check for workers now includes a full physical, lab results, and access to a mobile HIV testing unit.

“This is a great screening program, and it’s just come so far,” said Jenks, who was volunteering at an occupational therapy station with a demonstration on body mechanics, including safe ways to bend over, lift, and pull. “The workers do tons of different jobs, and a lot of them don’t know how to protect their backs. Once you have back problems, you always have back problems, so we really want to teach them the proper way to lift, the proper way to pull, to teach them to protect their backs. Costa Layman Farms really cares about its workers and wants to protect them from those problems.”

Learn more about the CNL program in the GRU College of Nursing.

Learn more about Costa Layman Farms.

Thanks from Costa Layman Farms

I want to thank the more than 100 Georgia Regents University volunteers who provided free health screenings for 330 workers July 19 at the 8th Annual Costa Layman Health Fair in Trenton, S.C. The event has been sponsored for the past eight years by the GRU College of Nursing and is coordinated by its Clinical Nurse Leader students. To date, nearly 2,500 health screenings have been performed at Costa Layman Farms, one of the largest perennial farms in the United States.

During the event, university volunteers examined workers’ eyes, teeth and skin. They measured height, weight, blood pressure, body mass index, waist circumference, and heel bone density, and performed tests for grip strength, sleep apnea, and pulmonary function. These assessments will empower our employees to make decisions that will positively impact their future health. Many Costa Layman workers need help navigating their way through an increasingly complicated health care system, and the screenings offer the information needed to make educated choices about how to seek proper health care solutions.

I am always inspired by the generosity of the volunteers from the GRU Colleges of Nursing, Dental Medicine, Allied Health Sciences, and the Medical College of Georgia, and how they continue to lend a hand to help those in our community. I would especially like to thank Dr. Pam Cromer in the College of Nursing; Dr. William Strong with the GRU Institute of Public and Preventive Health; Drs. Yanbin Dong and Dr. Jigar Bhagatwala in the Georgia Prevention Center; Dr. Carol Hanes in the College of Dental Medicine; Drs. Andrew Mazzoli, Mariam Cortez-Cooper, and Mariana D’Amico in the College of Allied Health Sciences; David Thompson and the GRU Ryan White Program; Vivian Rice in the Department of Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services, and Librarian Peter Shipman. I would also like to thank students with the College of Dental Medicine’s Hispanic Student Dental Association, who each provided approximately 166 oral screenings at this year’s event.

Thanks to all those who gave their time, energy, and compassion to provide this valuable community service. 



Debbie Layman