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 

Bill David Brooks via CC

A nonpartisan think tank in New Mexico released a report on health care costs this week suggesting that providers should be more transparent about the price of procedures up front.

Fred Nathan is the founder and executive director of Think New Mexico. The group’s report says New Mexicans are spending more out of their pockets for health care than ever before, and most of that extra money is going to administrative costs—not to doctors’ salaries or improved care for patients.

John Arnold, UNM Health Sciences Center

The University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center has received more than $15 million in federal money to expand a statewide telehealth program. The program aims to provide rural hospital patients with emergency video consultations.

The funding, awarded through the Medicare and Medicaid Services Innovation Center, will pay for a network of high definition cameras and AV conferencing equipment for emergency rooms throughout the state. 

Kathryn Decker via Flickr

The national unemployment rate has dropped to 5.9 percent, but that doesn’t mean that there are more teens and young adults in the New Mexico workforce. In fact, that number has been dropping for decades, according to a recent report.

Ed Williams-KUNM

    

Terry Trujillo’s family has been facing an ordeal that would be familiar to a surprising number of Americans. Holding back tears, she remembers the moment she had to explain to her adopted nephew that his severe learning disabilities, memory problems and behavior issues were the result of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.

“The little boy would say ‘Well what’s that, what do you mean?’ And it’s hard to sit there and tell a child it means that your mother drank alcohol while you were in her stomach, and to see their face. Because they know it’s wrong,” Trujillo said.

about.me/ReidAboutSex

UNM is hosting its inaugural Sex Week next week, and this year’s theme is preventing sexual assault.

Daniel Schwen / CC-BY-SA 4.0

The Legislature’s Criminal Justice Reform Committee met on Wednesday to talk about bail, among other topics. According to one speaker, the high cost of bail creates a system where people who can pay are released, while people in poverty remain behind bars. 

Arthur Pepin has a lot of work in front of him. He’s the director of the Bernalillo County Criminal Justice Review Commission, a group tasked with figuring out how to decrease the population at the county jail.

Microbe World via Flickr

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.

US Census Bureau

New Mexico had the country’s second-highest poverty rate in 2013, according to a report released today by the United States Census Bureau. The bad numbers for our state come as poverty rates are falling in the country as a whole.

 

Poverty in New Mexico increased more than a full percentage point between 2012 and 2013, with nearly 22 percent of residents here earning less than the federal poverty wage during that period.

 

Robin Zielinski / Las Cruces Sun-News

Two news organizations are asking the N.M. Court of Appeals to overturn a ruling allowing last year’s audit of 15 health organizations to remain secret.

Marisa Demarco

The acting U.S. Surgeon General was in New Mexico Tuesday to talk about ways schools and parents can work together to prevent skin cancer.

Boris Lushniak and New Mexico Health Secretary Retta Ward met with school officials, parents and students at Bandelier Elementary School in Albuquerque. 

Lushniak said there used to be a time when a tan was a good thing.

Capt Piper via Flicker

Bernalillo County Commissioners voted 3-2 today to include two questions on the November ballot. One will ask whether voters support decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana. The other will ask whether voters support a tax increase to fund mental health services. The non-binding measures passed on a party line vote.

Commissioners voting in support of including the mental health question on the ballot said a current lack of behavioral health services in New Mexico is a growing problem for the state.

J McKenna Photography via Flickr

New Mexico has led the nation in drug overdose deaths for the past few decades. With rates around twice the national average, overdoses here account for more deaths than car accidents. But the state health department announced some good news this week: New Mexico’s overdose rate has dropped to the lowest level since 2009.

Overdoses in New Mexico fell 16 percent between 2011-2013. That’s the first time in over 20 years that overdoses have fallen two years in a row.

Rita Daniels

    

Kirtland Air Force Base will not submit a plan to pump and treat contaminated groundwater at the end of this month as expected.

Officials from Kirtland and the state say they still need more information before moving forward on the cleanup of an underground fuel spill that has contaminated Albuquerque’s aquifer.

Ed Williams-KUNM

    

(Click here to access the interactive map of vaccine rates)

Newly released figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show New Mexico ranks near the bottom for statewide child vaccination rates for hepatitis A

Caden Crawford via Flickr / Creative Commons License

The state Human Services Department will hear public testimony Friday on proposed changes to SNAP, the state’s food assistance program.  

josemanuelerre via Creative Commons

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

Ed Williams-KUNM

As Immigration lawyers prepare to battle the federal government over possible due process violations against immigrant women and children detained in Artesia, records obtained by KUNM raise another legal question about the facility—whether the detention center is in compliance with state child welfare laws.

World Bank Photo Collection via Flickr

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.

Ed Williams / KUNM

People from across New Mexico gathered at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Artesia Sunday to protest the detention of hundreds of Central American migrants.

Women and children who’ve been detained by the federal government for entering the US illegally waved and cheered from behind a barbed wire fence as attorney María Andrade addressed a crowd of around three hundred marchers Sunday afternoon. She read from a letter her client had given her.

Judge Rules Health Audit Can Remain Secret

Aug 14, 2014
Yuri Yu. Samoilov via Flickr / Creative Commons License

A state agency can continue to keep secret most of an audit it used last year to suspend funding for 15 health organizations and spark criminal investigations into potential Medicaid fraud, a judge ruled Thursday.

The ruling marks the second time in nine months that Douglas R. Driggers, a district judge in Doña Ana County, has agreed with the state’s Human Services Department (HSD) and Attorney General’s Office (AG) that protecting an ongoing criminal investigation trumps the public’s right to information.

A still from the Town Hall video

Department of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz hosted a town hall meeting in Carlsbad last night to talk about recovery efforts at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant. It's the nation's only underground nuclear waste storage facility, just 26 miles east of the town. WIPP has remained closed since the radiation leak in mid-February, and the cause of the leak remains unclear.

Secretary Moniz promised the crowd that WIPP will re-open, and members of New Mexico’s congressional delegation talked about their efforts to get WIPP the funds it needs to operate safely.

KUNM has joined up with the online news outlet New Mexico Compass to report on Albuquerque Police officer-involved shootings.

Kate Ter Haar via flickr

    

Lawyers representing women being held in the Artesia immigrant detention center in southern New Mexico are claiming the Honduran consulate is encouraging immigrants to forego legal counsel and consent to deportation.  The claims follow concerns voiced by legal and health advocates over access to due process among the detainees.

Albuquerque Police Department

KUNM Call In Show Thu. 8/7 8a: This spring New Mexicans, and many people across the U.S., were shocked by a video that showed a homeless camper being shot by police who were trying to bring him out of the Albuquerque foothills. While the video sparked controversy over police tactics it also highlighted the ongoing tension between law enforcement agencies, the media and the public. 

World Bank Photo Collection via Flickr / Creative Commons License

There have been a number of reports that residents and officials are concerned that the surge of Central American immigrants who've crossed the U.S./Mexico border in recent weeks will have an impact on public health. A number of these immigrants are being held in a federal facility in Artesia in southern New Mexico. 

WGN America

KUNM Call In Show Thur. 7/31 8 a.m.

July marked the 69th anniversary of the world's first detonation of an atomic bomb, in New Mexico. And on Monday, “Manhattan,” a fictional show about the scientists who made the bomb, premiered on WGN America.

We’ll be talking about this moment in U.S. history with an eye on how it affected New Mexicans. Did you know there were people living nearby when the Trinity test took place? What are the long-term effects of the Trinity test? What does it mean to us today that the first atomic bomb was detonated right here in our home state?

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

Some homeless advocates are voicing support for legislation that would classify violence against homeless people as a hate crime. Supporters of the idea say the issue has taken on new urgency following the recent brutal murders of Allison Gorman and Kee Thompson as they slept in a lot in Albuquerque.

The New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness is the latest group to come out in support of enhanced sentences for those who attack homeless people. Other supporters include Albuquerque City Councilor Rey Garduño and state Senator Daniel Ivey-Soto.

Rita Daniels

Kirtland Air Force Base held their quarterly Citizen Advisory Board meeting on Tuesday to talk about cleaning up the fuel spill threatening Albuquerque's drinking water supply. People learned they may see more action in the coming months than they have over the past 15 years.

The evening kicked off with a brief power point presentation as one of Kirtland’s project managers went over various clean up efforts.  Then the public was allowed to ask questions.

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