Public Health New Mexico

KUNM's Public Health New Mexico reporting project provides in-depth, investigative and continuous coverage of public health in New Mexico, with an emphasis on poverty. For all articles and web exclusive content, go to publichealthnm.org 

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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.​

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

A community center that’s helped thousands of urban Native Americans in this region over the last two decades is facing possible closure. 

The Albuquerque Indian Center is known for providing culturally sensitive services tailored to the needs of Native Americans. On an average morning there, people dig through piles of donated clothes in the main room, look over free bread in the kitchen and drop in to check their mail. 

Zahid Javali via CC

Hundreds of hospitals around the country—even the famous Mayo Clinic—are being fined in 2016 because of safety concerns, and six in New Mexico will be facing that fine, too.

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.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

A law in Texas that opponents say could cause the shutdown of all but 10 abortion clinics there is headed to the U.S. Supreme Court in early March. In the meantime, some women seeking the procedure have been coming to neighboring New Mexico instead.

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.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

The number of people who are behind bars in America is much bigger than it was 40 years ago. In fact, it’s five times higher. That means a lot more parents are doing time, and having a record can limit people’s ability to get a job, find a place to live and provide for their kids. A local program is trying to help dads get around the obstacles and back on track with their families.

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. 

Courtesy of the Rio Grande Zoo

Chimpanzees have been bred for research here since the 1950s, and at one point, the state was home to the largest captive chimpanzee colony on the planet. But the National Institutes of Health decided to stop funding chimp research last month. The move marks a sea change in biomedical ethics—and might prove smarter for human health.

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.

insunlight via Flickr / Creative Commons License

It’s no secret that the state’s jails have become default treatment centers for people dealing with mental illness. But a task force has come up with tangible steps to find a better solution.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

Folks gathered in Albuquerque in support of Planned Parenthood in response to a deadly attack on a clinic about a week ago. But just hours before the vigil, shooters in San Bernardino, California, killed 14 people and wounded at least 21 more. 

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

Hundreds of people have populated Pajarito Mesa just Southwest of Albuquerque for decades. But without addresses, fire trucks, ambulances or sheriff’s deputies have struggled to reach these residents when it matters most. Bernalillo County is offering what officials said they hope will be a good solution. 

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.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

We’ve all heard of suicide-prevention hotlines, and numbers folks can dial in an emergency. But what about a not-so-hotline for people looking to stave off a crisis before it happens? 

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The White House has been calling for college campuses to better protect students from sexual assault. And last year a task force presented recommendations for what should change. But universities across the country may be struggling to keep up. We checked in on how the University of New Mexico is faring—and one way technology might help.

Arianna Sena / KUNM

People who’ve reported sexual assaults to the University of New Mexico have said lengthy investigations leave them in limbo for months while anxiety interferes with their studies. But UNM is making some changes to try to speed things up.

An App To Map Moles

Nov 9, 2015
Tim Lee of British Columbia Cancer Research Agency

  Melanoma is the most dangerous kind of skin cancer, accounting for 75 percent of all skin cancer deaths. And it affects people of all ages—especially folks in sunny New Mexico.

A researcher at the University of New Mexico’s Cancer Center helped develop a free app that aims to track any funny-looking moles on your body, so you can catch melanoma in its early stages. 

Flickr via CC

Sexual assault policies on campuses around the country are being scrutinized, and the Department of Justice has been looking at the University of New Mexico this year. Some UNM students say the university isn’t clear about when their sexual assault reports will remain confidential—and when they won’t.

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.

 

Generation Justice

Inmates and their relatives pay steep phone bills to keep in touch, and prison phone companies rake in billions. The Federal Communications Commission moved to cap those rates last week because it isn’t only the inmate who pays the price.

Rashad Mahmood-Public Health New Mexico

    

Editor's Note: A spokeswoman for the New Mexico Environment Department emailed with concerns about this story. We reviewed them and found no inaccuracies. We stand by our reporting. You can find a link to her email and read our response here. 

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.

Get Your Flu Vaccine At A Drive-Thru

Oct 17, 2015
Allison Giron/KUNM

Influenza is the 8th leading cause of death in the United States, according to the CDC.

UNM Hospital provides free flu shots and even drive­-thru clinics to help minimize the spread of the virus. Drivers are able to pull into a parking lot and get in line. Medical student volunteers then walk to their cars with syringes and paperwork.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

Untreated minor health concerns can grow into big, expensive ailments, maybe even fatal illnesses. That’s true for people who are in jail, too. Many of the state’s jails charge inmates copays for their medical care, but some say the fees deter inmates from seeking the help they need before health problems get out of control. 

Rashad Mahmood-Public Health New Mexico

A plume of toxic dry cleaning chemicals has been moving through Albuquerque's groundwater for at least two decades. At 35 feet deep and at least a mile and a half long, it's closer to the surface and covers more distance than the Kirtland Air Force Base jet fuel spill. And the chemicals in the groundwater, called TCE and PCE, cause cancer, birth defects and neurological problems. 

UNM To House Population Health College

Oct 3, 2015
suny_cortland via Flickr / Creative Commons License

 

New Mexico will be home to the nation's first population health doctoral program. The new program was inspired by the Affordable Care Act to help grow the workforce for our healthcare system. The college will feature a multi-disciplinary degree program that aims to train the students who will provide healthcare services. 

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

FARMINGTON, N.M.—Nationwide, the number of people who die in jail is rising. Here in New Mexico, three deaths in three months in San Juan County’s lockup caught the attention of attorneys and the local newspaper

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.

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