Marisa Demarco

Public Health New Mexico Reporter

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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Public Health New Mexico
8:22 pm
Mon April 27, 2015

Nurse Says She Lost Her Job For Speaking Out

Diane Spencer speaks at the Roundhouse to announce the filing of safe staffing legislation.
Credit Bruce Wetherbee

How clean was the hospital when you were there? How well did nurses and doctors explain things to you? When answering these questions, people in New Mexico ranked state facilities poorly, according to federal survey data that was just released. Local union members say that’s because hospitals like the one in Santa Fe run on staffs that are too small in order to pinch pennies.

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Public Health New Mexico
6:43 pm
Fri April 24, 2015

Union Wants City Backup On Santa Fe Hospital Conditions

Lorie MacIver (right) and nurse Delma Delora answer questions in front of Santa Fe's City Hall on Friday, April 24.
Credit Marisa Demarco / KUNM

The health care employees union used a Santa Fe hospital’s low patient rating as grounds to call for help from city officials on Friday morning. 

Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center did worse than most hospitals in the state in recent patient surveys, scoring only two of five stars.

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Public Health New Mexico
4:35 pm
Thu April 23, 2015

VA Extends Hotline For Speedier Appointments

Credit Samantha Celera via CC

The state's Veterans Affairs Health Care System set up a hotline to help people speed up appointments. It was going to expire Thursday but has been extended for another two weeks.

The hotline was established earlier this month after news broke that four VA medical facilities in New Mexico had some of the longest waits for health care in the country.

Veterans with appointments scheduled out 30 days or more can call 505-222-3351 to find alternatives. The hotline will be live through Thursday, May 7. Find out more at publichealthnm.org.

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Public Health New Mexico
5:22 pm
Wed April 22, 2015

Asphalt Plant Proposal Sparks Public Meetings

Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge
Credit fws.gov

  

Albuquerque’s Environmental Health Department is going to hold hearings on a proposal to build an around-the-clock hot-mix asphalt plant less than half a mile from the Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge in the South Valley. The department received 156 public comments on the plan. 

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Public Health New Mexico
2:18 pm
Wed April 22, 2015

VA Director On Secret Lists, Long Waits And A Noble Mission

Andrew Welch at an April press conference, discussing the news that clinics in Farmington, Rio Rancho and Santa Fe—and the VA hospital in Albuquerque—had some of the longest wait times in the country.

Last year, a veteran in Albuquerque died at the VA medical center cafeteria after waiting 30 minutes for an ambulance.

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Public Health New Mexico
7:58 pm
Mon April 20, 2015

Patients Rank N.M. Hospitals Low

Credit triller14 via CC

Before you try a new restaurant, you might check out reviews to see what other customers thought of the place. Now you can do that with hospitals, too. But our state’s hospitals aren’t stacking up so well.

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Public Health New Mexico
2:49 pm
Wed April 15, 2015

KUNM Reporting Series

Using audio and video files obtained from the Albuquerque Policy Department, KUNM's public health project is investigating officer-involved shootings with an eye on mental health, substance abuse, poverty and post-traumatic stress disorder. It's part of a larger conversation about where health intersects with the criminal justice system and public policy.

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Public Health New Mexico
2:47 pm
Wed April 15, 2015

KUNM Reporting Series: Solitary Confinement

The use of solitary confinement on people with mental illness is costing counties millions of dollars. The most famous example is Stephen Slevin, who was awarded $22 million after spending nearly two years in solitary in the Doña Ana County jail. KUNM's Public Health New Mexico Project developed a three-part series on the use of segregation around the state, looking at jails, prisons, mental health and incarceration, and recidivism. 

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Public Health New Mexico
6:20 pm
Fri April 10, 2015

Governor Signs Health Care Price Comparison Bill

Credit Leo Reynolds via CC

Gov. Susana Martinez signed a bill today that makes it so people seeking health care can find out what different routine procedures cost at hospitals around the state. Fourteen other states have these websites.

Patients will be able to shop around and find the best deal on medical procedures—and see which hospitals perform them best—when a new public website goes up. Prices of vary drastically from hospital to hospital, according to Think New Mexico’s Fred Nathan, and unveiling the price tags actually drives costs down.

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Public Health New Mexico
6:11 pm
Fri April 10, 2015

VA Director Talks Lengthy Wait Times

New Mexico's VA Health Care Director Andrew Welch
Credit Marisa Demarco / KUNM

The Associated Press looked at data from medical facilities for veterans around the U.S. and reported that four in New Mexico were among the worst when it comes to long waits for appointments. 

Veterans using VA clinics in Farmington, Santa Fe and Rio Rancho, and the hospital in Albuquerque, might be waiting a long time for health care. Those facilities were near the top of the AP’s list, with Farmington coming in No. 6—out of 940. 

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Public Health New Mexico
5:20 pm
Wed April 8, 2015

CDC Backs Long-Term Birth Control For Teens

Credit Contreleurope via CC

New Mexico still had the highest teen pregnancy rate in the U.S. last year, but the good news is that it’s declining—here and in the rest of the country. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a recommendation this week for how to drop the rate even further.

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Public Health New Mexico
5:54 pm
Fri April 3, 2015

Asphalt Company Applies For Permit Near Wildlife Refuge

Greenmonster via Compfight CC

The public comment period ends Saturday, April 4, about an asphalt plant that could go in near a wildlife reserve in the South Valley. Albuquerque Asphalt applied for a permit to build at hot-mix asphalt plant, and neighbors are concerned that the site for the plant is too close to the Valle de Oro Wildlife Refuge. It’s a little more than half a mile away.

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Public Health New Mexico
12:07 pm
Wed April 1, 2015

Round Two For Flu In New Mexico

Credit Auntie P. via Compfight CC

The weather’s warming up, but flu season’s not quite over. Even if you already had the flu this season, if you feel ill, you could have it again. A second virus is making its way around New Mexico. 

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Public Health New Mexico
5:17 pm
Tue March 31, 2015

State Works To Fill The Void Left By Turquoise

District Court judges in Chaves County have expressed concern that they won't be able to order people into treatment if behavioral health capacity in the area is diminished.
Credit Marisa Demarco / KUNM

An Arizona nonprofit that came to New Mexico after the 2013 behavioral health shakeup called it quits on March 31 after less than two years. 

Turquoise Health and Wellness was the main provider of mental health and substance abuse treatment to several cities in Southeast New Mexico. Not anymore. Human Services Department spokesperson Matt Kennicott said since the company gave its 90-day closure notice, the state has been working with communities to find replacements.

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Public Health New Mexico
5:48 pm
Thu March 26, 2015

Turquoise Closure Leaves Roswell Courts Scrambling

Judge Freddie Romero gives candy bars to the kids who have a good day in Drug Court.
Credit Marisa Demarco / KUNM

After less than two years serving southeastern New Mexico, a behavioral health provider will shutter its programs on March 31, leaving hundreds without services.

What does this mean for Roswell and its courts, which were ordering offenders into treatment there?

Judge Freddie Romero presides over the drug court for juveniles in Chaves County. It’s not what you might imagine. The judge is warm and friendly. The kids who approach the podium with their parents in tow are everyday teenagers—jeans, T shirts, the occasional piercing.

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Public Health New Mexico
7:40 pm
Tue March 24, 2015

Public Health In The 2015 Session

Credit Arianna Sena

Psychiatric Meds In School—PASSED

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Public Health New Mexico
3:54 pm
Thu March 19, 2015

Could Dental Therapists Fill The Access Gap?

Dr. Patricio Larragoite serves an adult patient at the Cochiti Dental Clinic.
Credit Marisa Demarco / KUNM

Advocates have tried since 2011 to pass a bill that would create a new breed of mid-level dental care providers in New Mexico. It passed the state’s House of Representatives on Monday for the first time ever on a bipartisan vote. If the Senate gives it a thumb’s up before the session ends on Saturday at noon, it could mean a big change for dentistry. 

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Public Health New Mexico
7:00 am
Mon March 16, 2015

Guns And Public Health In New Mexico

Target shooting in Belen, N.M.
Credit Marisa Demarco / KUNM

There have been more than 300,000 civilian gun deaths in the United States in the last 10 years. That’s right up there with the number of military casualties in the nation’s biggest wars. The country's surgeon general says gun violence is a public health issue.

But in rural parts of New Mexico, many people use guns as tools in their daily lives. 

"This is my 12-gauge shotgun, and I’ll say it’s definitely the most versatile tool in the gun cabinet," Billy Ogle said. "And you can take anything from the smallest game to the largest game in North America down."

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Public Health New Mexico
3:56 pm
Wed March 11, 2015

Taking Mental Health Out Of The Gun Violence Debate

Credit Curtis Gregory Perry via CC

  After mass-casualty shootings, the national debate often focuses on preventing people with mental illness from buying guns. But at the forum hosted by UNM’s Psychiatry Department this week, researchers said that might not be the smartest way to decrease gun violence in America—or in New Mexico.

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Public Health New Mexico
4:58 pm
Mon March 9, 2015

Ex-APD Officer On How Police Cope

Paul Ielacqua skips stones in 2014 at Conchas Lake. He was a park ranger there from 1998 to 2001.
Credit Courtesy of Paul Ielacqua

KUNM's Public Health New Mexico reporting project has been investigating Albuquerque Police Department shooting deaths with an eye on behavioral health issues. This week, we’re looking at officer mental health.

Paul Ielacqua was an APD Aviation officer from 2001 to 2008 but has worked in law enforcement—at the Bernalillo County jail and Conchas Lake—since 1996. He talked to KUNM about how police handle their own mental wellness in high-stress situations.

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Public Health New Mexico
4:46 pm
Mon March 9, 2015

The APD Files: Officer Mental Health And Daniel Tillison

Daniel Tillison's kids work on his memorial at the site where he died.
Credit Courtesy of Mary Jobe

When the Department of Justice report on the Albuquerque Police Department came out last year, it highlighted that interactions between officers and people with mental illnesses can be volatile. It also pointed to limited services. But what about the mental wellbeing of the officers?

On March 19, 2012, the call that came in to Albuquerque police was not an emergency.

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Public Health New Mexico
4:25 pm
Thu March 5, 2015

Abortion Bill Also Allows Pharmacists To Refuse To Dispense Meds

Credit www.enfield.gov.uk via CC

UPDATE Thursday 3/5 at 6 p.m.: KUNM Host Chris Boros and I just discussed the two abortion bills making their way to the House floor soon, including HB 391, which requires doctors to alert parents at least 48 hours before a minor gets an abortion, and HB 390, the

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Public Health New Mexico
5:11 pm
Thu February 26, 2015

The APD Files: Alan Gomez And Substance Abuse

Substance abuse treatment is not available for everyone who needs it in New Mexico, and this shortage is at the root of some tragic altercations with police.

Mike Gomez met me in a park in Albuquerque, holding a framed photo of his son Alan. “He was a good kid, a normal kid,” he said. “He graduated high school on time. He was a Little League All-Star.”

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Public Health New Mexico
4:44 pm
Mon February 23, 2015

Lawmakers To Consider Limiting Solitary Confinement

Credit pixabay.com via CC

The use of solitary confinement on mentally ill inmates sparked expensive lawsuits in New Mexico in the last couple of years. Doña Ana County paid Stephen Slevin millions of dollars in 2013 after he spent almost two years in solitary confinement. A bill making its way through this legislative session could outlaw such lengthy stays in isolation. 

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Public Health New Mexico
6:08 pm
Thu February 19, 2015

Lawsuit: UNM Shielded Athletes Accused Of Rape

Credit Arianna Sena

A former UNM student who said she was assaulted by two Lobo football players and a CNM student last year filed a lawsuit in District Court  against the university Thursday. The lawsuit alleges Title IX investigators at UNM protected the athletes by conducting a shoddy investigation. 

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Public Health New Mexico
4:38 pm
Wed February 18, 2015

Senator: Moms Should Be Able To Pump Breast Milk In Jail

Credit josemanuelerre via CC

Female inmates are the fastest-growing prison population in the state. New moms and pregnant women who are heading to jail could be affected by legislation proposed this session. 

Sen. Lisa Torraco’s bill would do two things: One, it would allow new moms to pump their breast milk while they’re in jail or prison, so it can be given to their babies. 

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Public Health New Mexico
11:23 am
Wed February 18, 2015

Commissioners Postpone Tax Vote

Credit thetutoress.com via CC

The Bernalillo County Commission voted last night to postpone a tax hike for a special session that will likely happen next week. The one-quarter of 1 percent tax increase on goods and services would be divided up as follows: Half of it would go to mental health and substance abuse treatment services, and half of it would go to the county’s operational budget.

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Public Health New Mexico
4:06 pm
Tue February 17, 2015

Helping Inmates Sign Up For Medicaid

Pixabay via CC

A New Mexico legislator is trying to help inmates sign up for Medicaid around the state. 

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Public Health New Mexico
11:42 am
Tue February 17, 2015

Commission To Vote On Mental Health Tax Hike

Credit SilverGryphon8 via CC

Bernalillo Commissioners will vote Tuesday night on whether to increase taxes and increase mental health care in the county.

The gross receipts tax increase of one-eighth of a percent would generate $15 to $20 million. At the top of a mental health care wish list? A crisis center where people could go to be stabilized and plugged into services, instead of being arrested and sent to jail.  

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Public Health New Mexico
5:36 pm
Thu February 12, 2015

The APD Files: Len Fuentes And Mental Health

Len Fuentes
Credit Sylvia Fuentes

You’ve heard of James Boyd, the homeless man who was killed by Albuquerque police last year. But you might not have heard of Len Fuentes. He, too, was mentally ill when he brandished a knife and was shot and killed by APD.

Fuentes’ mom said she had found mental health care for her son, but it was three days too late.   

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