Department of Health

Grandparents Filling The Family Void

Sep 18, 2015
FeeLoona via Pixabay / Creative Commons License

In New Mexico lots of grandparents raise their grandkids – more than 70,000 children under the age of 18 here live with family other than their parents.

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.

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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New Mexico’s auditor identified more than $4.5 billion in unspent state funds earlier this year. Now a national agency wants to see some of that money go to a program for people with disabilities.

It’s known as the DD Waiver, and it’s a program that helps folks with developmental disabilities get services. But the waiting list is up to 10 years long.

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May is Teen Pregnancy Awareness Month, and since 2000 our state has seen its teen birth rate fall nearly 50 percent for teens age 15 to 17. 

A lot of factors contribute to the drop in teenage parenthood in New Mexico, like expanded access through Medicaid and improvement in birth control.

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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. 

Arianna Sena

Psychiatric Meds In School—PASSED

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Five New Mexicans  have died so far this year from flu related illnesses, ranging in age from 29 to 92. The announcement from the state Department of Health comes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are warning of epidemic levels of flu activity nationally. 

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A drug called naloxone reversed more than 700 overdoses in New Mexico last year. But hurdles remain for making the drug more widely available. 

Naloxone—brand name Narcan—can be prescribed by pharmacists, not just doctors, and Medicaid covers the cost. In 2014, those big policy changes resulted in a spike of overdose reversals. 

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There’s been so much media attention focused on the Ebola crisis in West Africa and whether the healthcare system in the U.S. is ready for cases here, it’s easy to forget that the U.S. flu season has begun. Each year thousands of people in the U.S. die from the flu, tens of thousands in bad years. Last year there were 34 flu-related deaths in New Mexico.

Dr. Randal J. Schoepp via Army Medicine / Creative Commons


Gov. Susana Martinez has directed the state Department of Health to coordinate an Ebola preparedness plan in case the disease is diagnosed in any New Mexico patients.

Martinez's office says the Health Department will work with other state agencies, local governments and hospitals across New Mexico to ensure officials are prepared.

Martinez says that despite the low risk, she wants to reassure residents that the state would be able to respond quickly if an Ebola case emerges.

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New Mexico health officials have screened 56 babies for tuberculosis since an El Paso hospital worker tested positive for the potentially lethal respiratory infection last summer. Now, state health officials say none of the babies living here appear to have contracted the disease.

“So far we haven’t seen any clear evidence of transmission with the babies here in New Mexico, so that’s a very positive thing,” said New Mexico Department of Health Tuberculosis Program Manager Diana Fortune.

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The federal government has tightened restrictions on prescription hydrocodone combo drugs to try to reduce overdoses. That could be good news for New Mexico, which has the second highest opioid overdose rate in the nation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Drug Enforcement Agenct now considers the highly addictive pain medication a Schedule II drug alongside oxycodone and methamphetamine.

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The New Mexico Health Department is screening babies for tuberculosis in Doña Ana County this week. 

Health Department officials in Texas and New Mexico say as many as 750 newborns might have been exposed to tuberculosis at Providence Memorial Hospital’s nursery unit in El Paso. Over 50 of those babies are thought to live in southern New Mexico.

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The number of babies born addicted to drugs has risen sharply over the last decade or so in New Mexico. KUNM’s Public Health reporter Marisa Demarco brings us this story of how stigma surrounding addiction and pregnancy is contributing to the increase.

Mia just gave birth to a healthy baby boy even though she was addicted to methamphetamine until about a month and a half before he was born. Her name has been changed in this story to protect her identity. "My number one fear when I was using while pregnant was to lose him or him being born with something wrong," she said

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The board that oversees New Mexico's medical marijuana program this week unanimously rejected rule changes proposed by the state Department of Health. 

Dr. William Johnson chairs the New Mexico Medical Cannabis Advisory Board which is made up of doctors.  He says many of the changes proposed by the Department of Health would hurt patient access to medical marijuana. 


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New Mexico’s infant mortality rate fell 22 percent between 2012 and 2013, from 6.9 infant deaths per 1000 births to 5.4 in 2013, according to the state Department of Health

That might sound like a big drop, but that’s because the numbers for 2012 were abnormally high.

Dr. Randal J. Schoepp via Army Medicine / Creative Commons

The Department of Health sent clinical samples to the CDC today to make sure a New Mexico patient doesn’t have the Ebola virus. 

A 30-year-old woman in Albuquerque went to the hospital this weekend with a sore throat, headache, muscle aches and a fever after returning from a trip to West Africa, where an Ebola epidemic this year has killed more than 1,000 people.

Heavy Rains Bring Worries Of West Nile Virus

Sep 19, 2013
Centers for Disease Control

With heavy rainfall still drenching parts of the Southwest, health officials are warning that mosquito populations could increase, and more mosquitoes could mean more West Nile Virus.

Centers for Disease Control

A new survey ranks the United States 11th in the number of reported plague cases around the world. Of the cases found in the U.S. over the last decade, most infections were acquired in the Southwest.

Centers for Disease Control

New data from the Centers For Disease Control conclude that nationally, overdose deaths among women have been on the rise since 1999; and that since 2007, more women have died from overdoses than motor vehicle-related injuries.

However, officials in New Mexico say those trends are nothing new in the state.