Ed Williams

Public Health New Mexico Reporter

Ed Williams came to KUNM in 2014 by way of Carbondale, Colorado, where he worked as a public radio reporter covering environmental issues. Originally from Austin, Texas, Ed has reported on environmental, social justice, immigration and Native American issues in the U.S. and Latin America for the Austin American-Statesman, Z Magazine, NPR’s Latino USA and others. In his spare time, look for Ed riding his mountain bike in the Sandias or sparring on the jiu-jitsu mat.

@BeWellNM on Twitter

The New Mexico Health Insurance Exchange reported this week that a record 54,586 people signed up for insurance using the exchange during the Affordable Care Act’s most recent open enrollment period.

Ed Williams

Decades ago, a chemical business called Laun-Dry Supply Company leaked poisonous dry cleaning solvents into Albuquerque’s groundwater.

In the years since, nobody has investigated possible health impacts to people living near the contamination.

But that changed this week. On Wednesday, the New Mexico Environment Department started the process of testing houses for chemicals from the Laun-Dry spill.

Emory Maiden via Flickr

Lawmakers considered proposals Monday that would use a small share of the state’s Land Grant Permanent Fund to pay for early childhood education, and the measures ran into familiar roadblocks.

For the past five years, some democratic lawmakers have tried to tap into the state’s $14 billion Land Grant Permanent Fund to pay for early childhood education programs.

Ed Williams

Wednesday was Public Health Day in Santa Fe. Two dozen organizations that work on issues of health, poverty and research were at the state capital to press for funding during the legislative budget session. 

wsilver via Flickr

KUNM Call In Show Thu. 01/28 8a:

  

Lawmakers in Santa Fe are considering a number of bills aimed at addressing child welfare this session. We're taking a look at what's going on in the Round​h​ouse, from ​strengthening ​child porn laws ​and ending​ childhood obesity to domestic violence.​

Ed Williams

Across the country, Native American tribes are regaining parts of their ancestral land. It’s part of a push by the Obama administration to return half a million acres of territory to tribes.

Isleta Pueblo’s territory just grew by 50 percent as part of that initiative, and leaders there are looking at new ways to use their land as an economic engine.

Ed Williams


The Secretary of the Interior met with leaders of Isleta Pueblo Friday to return nearly 90,000 acres of ancestral land to the tribe.

t_and_cake via Flickr / Creative Commons License

The federal government is giving nearly $400,000 to tribes in New Mexico to fund permanent housing for Native American veterans who are homeless. It’s the first time federal housing grants of this kind have been made to tribes.

floyduk via flickr

New Mexico’s teen birth rate is the lowest ever recorded - that’s according to new statistics from the state Department of Health. But the drop isn’t spread evenly across the state.

Public Domain

Over a period of decades, cancer-causing solvents quietly seeped from a warehouse owned by Laun-Dry Supply Co. into the groundwater underneath dozens of homes and businesses near downtown Albuquerque. Today the plume of contamination stretches a mile and a half across the city, putting hundreds of people at risk of chemical exposure.

And government records show that employees of Laun-Dry were exposed to toxins from the plume. 

Gina McCaleb via Flickr

This week President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act into law, replacing the controversial No Child Left Behind Act. The new law gets rid of many of the standardized testing requirements that had been in place under No Child Left Behind, and gives states more leeway in designing their own education standards.

Public Health New Mexico spoke to U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich, who supported the bill, about what the changes mean for our state.

Ed Williams

At a rural health center in Española, a doctor and a community health worker are huddled around a computer, taking notes.

On the screen is an array of squares. In one is a group of expert Albuquerque doctors specializing in addiction management, and in the others are rural medical teams from around the state.

NMPBS

Young men of color face many challenges in New Mexico. Tonight on Public Square on New Mexico PBS – it’s Boys Into Men: Role Models and Mentors. How do we help young men find role models and become the next generation of leaders?

Ed Williams

The state’s Environment Department gave an update on the toxic plume of dry-cleaning solvents beneath downtown Albuquerque to neighbors and Bernalillo County’s water protection board last week. The meetings were the first time the plume’s risks to public health have been publicly discussed by the state.

A company that leaked toxic dry cleaning chemicals into the groundwater near downtown Albuquerque is planning to test the air in nearby homes to see if the chemicals pose a health risk to people living on top of the contamination. 

Ed Williams

Some of the nurses at the University of New Mexico Hospital say they are understaffed, overworked and overlooked by the hospital’s management.

At a press conference in front of UNM Hospital in Albuquerque, nurse Lorie MacIver said the staffing problems have gotten so bad, it can be hard to give patients the care they need.

"One of a nurse’s greatest fears is that she’s so overwhelmed and so busy that she fails to notice something small, and then it gets worse. And I’ve seen nurses in break rooms crying," MacIver said.

wikipedia

A program that started in New Mexico is taking on the global shortage of child doctors.

Project ECHO uses video conferencing to mentor rural doctors in specialized medicine with experts in Albuquerque and elsewhere. Now, the project is teaming up with the world’s largest pediatric organization to bring healthcare to rural kids.

 

Rashad Mahmood-Public Health New Mexico

There is a problem with the groundwater in Albuquerque—a big problem. A plume of poisonous dry cleaning chemicals is flowing beneath the Sawmill and Wells Park neighborhoods, just north of downtown. The contamination stretches farther than the Kirtland Air Force Base jet fuel spill, and is much closer to the surface.

Ed Williams

Finding employment can be a challenge for anyone entering the job market. For people with disabilities, those challenges can be even greater—the unemployment rate for that group is twice that of the overall population.

Ed Williams

When state environment workers were taking groundwater samples in downtown Albuquerque back in the 1990s, they discovered a large plume of a solvent called trichloroethylene, or TCE—a toxic chemical that causes cancer and birth defects—just 35 feet below the ground. 

pixabay.com

There are fewer young people trying to commit suicide in New Mexico, according to the state Department of Health. Statewide rates of attempted suicide among school kids dropped 35 percent between 2003 and 2013.

Andrew AIRNM via flickr

 

A coalition of businesses in New Mexico and Arizona are suing the Environmental Protection Agency over a recent rule extending clean water protections across the country. 

@BeWellNM on Twitter

This week Blue Cross Blue Shield announced it will be pulling out of the state health insurance exchange in January. President Kurt Shipley says the company lost over $19 million in New Mexico this year and is leaving, because state officials denied its request for a 51 percent rate increase.  

Ed Williams

New Mexico has a nursing problem. In recent years some hospitals have had to close beds because there weren’t enough nurses to staff them. And as more people enroll in health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act, the need for nurses is growing even faster.

Ed Williams

The Obama Administration recently proposed new standards that would reduce methane emissions from natural gas operations across the country, and environmental advocates say the new rules could have some health benefits for people living near gas wells.

Bernalillo County

Bernalillo County has extended the public comment period for a controversial road project in an industrial area south of Albuquerque. 

The $19 million Sunport Blvd. extension project is intended to make commuting easier and bring more business development to the South Valley - that’s according to Bernalillo County. But people in a nearby neighborhood say they didn’t have a seat at the table while the plans were being made.

Rita Daniels

KUNM Call In Show 8/13 8a:

Governor Susana Martinez has declared a state of emergency after the Environmental Protection Agency caused a massive spill of mine waste that has contaminated rivers in New Mexico and Colorado. We'll take a look at the Gold King Mine Spill: what does the pollution mean for communities, wildlife, and the watershed? 

Ed Williams

The idea to build a road connecting the Sunport with Rio Bravo Blvd started back in the late 1980s. But county planners back then ran into a roadblock: the street would need to cut through the South Valley Superfund site just west of I-25 where the Environmental Protection Agency was busy cleaning up groundwater contamination from weapons factories that used to be there.

Bernalillo County

Bernalillo County is preparing for the construction of a highway interchange connecting the Sunport to Broadway Blvd. 

The road project has been in the works for years but is just now nearing the end of the planning process. The county says the road will improve access to the South Valley from the airport, and hopes it will spur more business development in the area and make commuting easier for people in the San Jose neighborhood.

Ed Williams

On Monday, the governor announced a two-week program offering free vaccinations to children before school starts.

 The Department of Health will run the program with money from the state’s general fund to cover vaccinations for uninsured children.

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