Marisa Demarco

Public Health New Mexico Web Author

Marisa Demarco is a journalist, musician and event curator based in Albuquerque, N.M. In December 2012, she co-founded the New Mexico Compass news website at nmcompass.com with Margaret Wright. Since then, she's helped build and launch several local websites. Demarco's spent more than a decade in journalism, editing and writing for the Weekly Alibi, the Albuquerque Tribune and UNM's Daily Lobo. Find Demarco around Albuquerque crusading for journalism, modern grassroots media, and radical, D.I.Y. art and music.

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Local News
4:31 pm
Wed July 9, 2014

Albuquerque Changes Records Policy In Response To Complaints

The Albuquerque Police Department shares headquarters with the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Office across from City Hall.
Credit teofila via Compfight cc

The New Mexico Foundation for Open Government announced today that the City of Albuquerque will charge no more than $6.75 for DVDs and $2.75 for CDs for public records requests. This is a big win for not just journalists but everyone with an interest in accessing records that are available under the law. The change provides fair, consistent rates and lets people know what prices to expect in advance.

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Public Health New Mexico
3:32 pm
Tue July 1, 2014

Tips for Avoiding Date Rape Drugs

Credit Dusty J via Compfight cc

Reports of drug-facilitated sexual assaults are on the rise in Albuquerque. People who work with victims aren’t sure whether that’s because date rape drugs are being used more often or people are more aware of them.

Gail Starr is the clinical coordinator for SANE, a collaborative of medical professionals that helps victims of sexual assault. She said a variety of substances—including designer drugs—are being used these days. “There are so many drugs that we as nurses, we’re not focused on exactly what drug. The law enforcement can worry about that,” she said.

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Public Health New Mexico
11:03 am
Mon June 23, 2014

Students Win Thousands to Clean Up Water

The Taos High team worked out of a lab at the middle school. From left: James Valerio, Anthony Archuleta, Andrea Chin-Lopez and Julia Johnson.
Credit Laura Tenorio

Young scientists from Taos High School won the top prize at eCYBERMISSION, a national army-sponsored contest that asks students to come up with real-world solutions to problems in their communities. 

Ninth-graders in Taos figured out how to create inexpensive filters to remove antibiotics from drinking water. On Friday, June 20, they won $20,000 for their efforts, plus an additional $5,000 grant for the next phase of their work—implementation.

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Public Health New Mexico
2:02 pm
Thu June 19, 2014

Overdose Drug Covered by Medicaid

Naloxone is also known by its brand name, Narcan. It's can be administered nasally or intravenously, according to Dr. Michael Landen of the Department of Health.
Credit PunchingJudy via Creative Commons

  New Mexico has the second-highest rate of overdose deaths in the country, according to the CDC. Now, a life-saving drug called naloxone is not only available by prescription, the cost of it is covered through Medicaid.

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Public Health New Mexico
2:28 pm
Mon June 16, 2014

Taos High Students Filter Antibiotics From Water

Taos High School Students (from left) Julia Johnson, Andrea Chin-Lopez, James Valerio and Anthony Archuleta
Credit Laura Tenoria

Taos High School students are pitching a water-cleaning project in a national science competition called eCYBERMISSION this week in D.C. The prize? $25,000 and the chance to help the U.S. get antibiotics out of its water supply.

Students at Taos High have figured out how use crushed blue crab shells to create filters that remove antibiotics from water. They used the crustacean shells to create Chitosan, which is commonly used in agriculture, medicine and industry. 

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Public Health New Mexico
2:18 pm
Mon June 2, 2014

Local Advocates Fight for Incarcerated New Mothers

Credit Art by Nani Chacon courtesy of Young Women United

A local advocacy organization is looking at reforming the way the judicial system treats women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Young Women United traveled to Santa Fe last week to make four recommendations to the Criminal Justice Reform Subcommittee. Among them, judges should acknowledge pregnancy and lactation status when determining the conditions of bond or release.

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Public Health New Mexico
3:49 pm
Tue May 6, 2014

Solitary Confinement in New Mexico: Part 3

Credit e-MagineArt.com

Nataura Powdrell remembers one inmate at the Metropolitan Detention Center who refused to take his meds. When the jail’s mental health staff tried to talk about it, he explained he didn’t want to become stable. Because then he’d be released from jail.

Then, he knew from experience, he would run through the 30-day supply of medication that the jail provides to exiting inmates. He would have a psychotic break. And he’d go find heroin so he could get comfortable with the voices in his head.

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Public Health New Mexico
4:17 pm
Mon May 5, 2014

Solitary in New Mexico: Part 2

Jan Green's cell at the Valencia County Detention Center
Credit Courtesy of Matthew Coyte

Jan Green isn’t sure of cell 135C’s exact dimensions at the Valencia County Detention Center. It was small.

“It was a shower stall, but I couldn’t use the shower,” she said. “It had the steel toilet and sink combination. It had a cement L-shaped bench and two drains. It had a steel door with a window that looked out into the walkway. “

She saw those objects every day all day during her months-long stints in solitary.

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Public Health New Mexico
11:31 pm
Mon April 28, 2014

DOJ Promises Change

Luis Salcedo (left) with the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice and Damon Martinez, U.S. attorney for New Mexico on Monday, April 28, 2014, at the Alamosa Community Center.
Credit Marisa Demarco

  The Department of Justice held the first of three meetings Monday aiming to gather community input on Albuquerque’s police force.

People who showed up at the Westside’s Alamosa Community Center to give input last night were put off by the format of the meeting. It was not a public forum. Instead, commenters were given a number and then taken into a room where they spoke to DOJ employees as part of five-person focus groups.

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Public Health New Mexico
7:24 am
Mon April 28, 2014

Solitary Confinement in New Mexico: Part I

Piper Chapman in The Hole
Credit Screenshot from "Orange is the New Black"

The hole. That’s what they call it on television. It’s the mind-shattering pit fictional prisoners will do anything to avoid.

In real life, human rights advocates say New Mexico needs to cut back on using solitary confinement as a punishment method—especially for people coping with mental illnesses. Prison officials agree that it should be used less often, though most take issue with the way it’s portrayed in prison dramas.

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Public Health New Mexico
3:03 pm
Wed April 16, 2014

Three POC Members Resign

Credit spacepleb: Compfight via cc

  Three members of Albuquerque’s Police Oversight Commission resigned yesterday, saying the commission lacks the ability to provide real oversight of the city’s police force.

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Public Health New Mexico
10:37 pm
Thu April 10, 2014

Oversight Commission: Our Hands Are Tied

Credit Wikimedia Commons

The Police Oversight Commission met yesterday afternoon just hours after the Department of Justice released its findings on Albuquerque’s police force.

Chair *Jeffrey Peterson opened the regularly scheduled meeting with a statement about why the Police Oversight Commission has avoided commenting publicly on Albuquerque Police Department issues. He said the volunteer committee’s members have to skirt the appearance of bias.

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Public Health New Mexico
3:12 pm
Tue April 8, 2014

County Jail: Largest Mental Health Provider in N.M.

Credit my_southborough via Creative Commons

Bernalillo County jail Chief Ramon Rustin’s resignation took effect Monday. After three years as the head of the largest jail in New Mexico, Rustin stepped down saying he needed to meet family obligations. 

KUNM spoke with Rustin in February about mental health care at the Metropolitan Detention Center.

  Jail staff says MDC is the largest mental health provider in the state. Chief Rustin agreed. In fact, Rustin put that as No. 2 on the list of problems at the Bernalillo County lockup. So what's No. 1? Overcrowding, he said.

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Public Health New Mexico
4:59 pm
Fri April 4, 2014

APD Review Officer Discusses Police Oversight

An aerial view of Albuquerque's core
Credit kla4067 vis Wikimedia Commons and CC

Independent Review Officer Robin Hammer criticizes the city's Police Oversight Commission for failing to examine APD's overall policy on the use of force.

"The current commissioners have chosen not to use some of the powers they’ve already been given," she said in an interview with KUNM. "At no point in my 18 months has the Police Oversight Commission chosen to look at officer-involved shootings and to review what’s gone on."

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Public Health New Mexico
12:25 am
Tue April 1, 2014

Protesters Draw Up Demands for APD

Credit Marisa Demarco

  Around 150 people gathered at the Center for Peace and Justice to create a list of demands on Monday night.

A block or so away, a couple dozen protesters gathered in front of the University of New Mexico Bookstore to continue to chant and call for reform of Albuquerque’s Police Department.

The center was wall-to-wall with activists from many backgrounds and organizations. Though opinions varied widely, the group eventually narrowed a list of 30-plus demands to three. They include:

• Release video of all shootings, including lapel and helmet camera footage

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Public Health New Mexico
3:44 pm
Mon March 31, 2014

Mayor Berry: APD Showed Restraint

Mayor Richard Berry and APD Chief Gordon Eden addressed the media this afternoon regarding yesterday's protest, which the mayor earlier characterized as "mayhem." At today's news conference, Berry reiterated that what happened was not productive and said demonstrators were attempting to escalate the situation. 

Gordon described it this way: "What was a peaceful protest turned into this mob state. They were stopping traffic and engaging people who were doing nothing more than trying to get from point A to point B." 

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Public Health New Mexico
12:18 pm
Mon March 31, 2014

Video of Sunday's Protest from The Daily Lobo

Credit A still from the Daily Lobo's weekly news broadcast show "The Howl," directed by Michael Warren.

UNM's student newspaper, the Daily Lobo, offered a special video report of yesterday's 12-hour protest of the Albuquerque Police Department. The newspaper creates a news broadcast show weekly called "The Howl," which is directed by Michael Warren. Scope the paper's coverage

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Public Health New Mexico
1:50 pm
Thu March 27, 2014

ACA Adviser: New Mexico Lags Behind

Phil Schiliro with President Obama
Credit whitehouse.gov

  The deadline to sign up for health care is Monday, March 31, and New Mexico lags behind just about every other state in the country in terms of enrollment.

Phil Schiliro is the adviser to President Obama on the Affordable Care Act. He moved his family to Santa Fe in 2012 and said enrollment is critical in New Mexico.

A study completed in 2012 showed more than 400,000 New Mexicans don’t have health insurance. Only about 15,000 have signed up on the exchange.

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Public Health New Mexico
4:02 pm
Wed March 26, 2014

Big Picture: APD Shootings

Demonstrators in Downtown Albuquerque on Tuesday, March 25.
Credit Rita Daniels

Someone has posted a YouTube video claiming to represent the hacker group Anonymous and promising to launch an assault on the Albuquerque Police Department's websites. 

As a Downtown protest against APD’s use of deadly force concluded Tuesday night, officers opened fire on a man on the Westside. He died Wednesday morning. 

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Public Health New Mexico
1:16 pm
Tue March 25, 2014

NCI to Study Effects of Trinity Test

The Trinity test 0.016 seconds after the explosion in Southern New Mexico on July 16, 1945.
Credit lanl.gov via Public Domain

  The National Cancer Institute will come to New Mexico this spring to investigate how much radiation people were exposed to after the Trinity test in the southern part of the state nearly 70 years ago.

The CDC studied health hazards in the New Mexico and said state residents consumed radiation via water, milk, meat and produce grown here after July 16, 1945, when the U.S. Army detonated a nuclear weapon for the first time.

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Public Health New Mexico
3:55 pm
Mon March 24, 2014

WIPP - Failure To Communicate?

Mining crews at the Department of Energy’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant mine the north end of the WIPP repository to support new salt studies.
Credit By ENERGY.GOV [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The director of an organization that evaluated the WIPP site for over 25 years said officials aren’t doing enough to inform New Mexicans.

Dr. Bob Neill led the Environmental Evaluation Group, which provided independent technical evaluations of the WIPP project for more than two decades. He retired a year after the plant opened in 1999, and the group disbanded in 2004.

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Public Health New Mexico
2:00 pm
Wed March 19, 2014

Update: Nuclear Waste From New Mexico Lab May Go To Texas

Credit Nicolas Raymond via CC

03/20/14 Update: Nuclear Waste From New Mexico Lab May Go To Texas - The Associated Press

The operator of the nation's troubled nuclear waste dump in southeastern New Mexico wants to temporarily store waste from Los Alamos National Laboratory in rural West Texas until it reopens.

Waste storage at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad is halted because of a Feb. 5 truck fire and a Feb. 14 radiation leak that contaminated 17 workers.

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Public Health New Mexico
1:38 pm
Tue March 18, 2014

CDC: Excessive Drinking Kills New Mexicans

The rate of alcohol-attributable deaths for men is more than twice what it is for women.
Credit Douglas Muth via Creative Commons

 

Excessive drinking is among the leading causes of preventable deaths in the U.S., according to a report just released by the CDC.

Of the 11 states studied, New Mexico had the highest death rate due to alcohol use. For every 100,000 residents, there are about 51 deaths related to excessive drinking, which is almost double the median rate.

The report also tallied up all the years of potential life lost. In New Mexico, that’s a little more than 30 thousand years annually.

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Public Health New Mexico
12:57 pm
Wed March 12, 2014

Senate Passes Military Sexual Assault Reforms

Sen. Claire McCaskill sponsored the Victims Protection Act of 2014.
Credit Flickr via CC

The U.S. Senate unanimously approved changes to the way sexual assault cases are handled by the military on Monday night—but stopped short of removing the chain of command from the process. Last week a measure that would have done just that failed by five votes.

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Public Health New Mexico
3:59 pm
Tue March 11, 2014

Governor Signs Community Health Workers Act

"National studies have documented the effective use of highly trained community health workers, particularly in rural and frontier areas." —Community Health Worker Act Fiscal Impact Report
Credit Ken Lund via Flickr

Community health workers can be paid through Medicaid after a measure signed by Gov. Susana Martinez on Sunday, March 9, goes into effect. As things stand, workers’ salaries are primarily funded by grants.

The legislation also creates a state certification program and funding for trainings.

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Public Health New Mexico
4:26 pm
Tue March 4, 2014

Big Picture: WIPP Leak

Using Recovery Act funds in 2006, the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant purchased $5.5 million of new equipment.
Credit energy.gov / public domain / via Wikimedia Commons

Just 26 miles east of Carlsbad, N.M., in the Chihuahuan Desert, the United States buries its radioactive waste. Mostly, that’s the clothes, tools and rags that come into contact with elements heavier than uranium on the Periodic Table. But about 4 percent of what’s dumped at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant is more toxic and has to be stored in lead casks.

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Public Health New Mexico
1:25 pm
Mon February 24, 2014

Casualties: Public Health Bills That Didn’t Make It

Credit Patrick Feller // Compfight cc

Among the governor’s goals in her 2014 State of the State Address: deal with the shortage of health care providers in New Mexico. Every county except one doesn’t have an adequate supply of physicians and dentists, according to the federal government. And about 170,000 more folks will be eligible for Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Though Gov. Susana Martinez has unrolled some plans to deal with the shortage, the Legislature wasn’t able to pass measures that would have boosted the state’s health care work force.

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Public Health New Mexico
4:40 pm
Fri February 21, 2014

Survivors: Public Health Bills That Lived

Credit Wikimedia Commons: Jacob Lofman, PIX Incorporated, NYC, photographer

A 30-day legislative session—like the one that ended yesterday at noon—is mostly about hammering out a state budget. But other priorities sneak in, too, and 2014 saw a lot of public health-related bills. Here’s a look at the new laws and programs that made it out of Santa Fe alive.

Newborn Heart Disease Testing—HB 9

• Adds a test for congenital heart disease to the list of evaluations a newborn undergoes before being discharged.

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Public Health New Mexico
3:55 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

Disability Rights In The Roundhouse

By jena g. . Einar E. Kvaran aka 98.20.23.52 23:59, 1 June 2009, via Wikimedia Commons

UPDATE Feb. 19, 2014, 10:17 a.m.: SB 55 is awaiting a vote by the Senate.

Today was Disability Rights Awareness Day at the Roundhouse, and a bill calling for a plan for the state's troubled waiver program is stuck in committee awaiting a hearing. 

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Public Health New Mexico
3:44 pm
Mon February 17, 2014

Senate OKs Plan To Fund Rural Hospitals

Jim_K-Town via Compfight cc

UPDATE Feb. 19, 2014, 10:35 a.m.: This measure is in the House Taxation and Revenue Committee.

The state Senate approved a bill last night that creates temporary funding for more than two dozen rural hospitals. 

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