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 

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.

@BeWellNM on Twitter

 

 

New Mexico is working to create its own online insurance exchange before the next open enrollment period of the Affordable Care Act begins later this year. If the federal government doesn’t approve the state’s site, New Mexicans will be using the federal exchange for another year. 

Ed Williams

      

The crowds on the street corner outside Hobby Lobby were mostly civil, though emotions were running high. Several dozen men and women waved signs at oncoming traffic calling for a boycott of the craft store and decrying the Supreme Court’s decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby.

One protester, Natalie Hrizi, was busy passing around a petition to have congress revisit the issue.

publik15 via Flickr

Dear Senators Bill O’Neill and Jerry Ortiz y Pino:

We at New Mexico In Depth were a bit confused - befuddled might be a better word - at your press release yesterday. It bears the title “Media Scrutiny Finally Gives Behavioral Health Debacle the Investigation Warranted” and begins with this line:

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.

zacklur-Flickr

Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby, the U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down part of the Affordable Care Act’s mandate for employer-provided contraceptive coverage, is sparking both praise and condemnation here in New Mexico.

Local abortion rights groups are decrying the decision. Denicia Cadena is communications director at Young Women United, an advocacy group for women of color in New Mexico.

via Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Diabetes is on the rise across the U.S. according to a report released this month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

One out of every eleven American adults has diabetes, or 9.3 percent, up one percent over the last three years.  That equates to more than three million new diabetics.

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.

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.

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. 

KUNM Earns Two NMBA Awards For Excellence

Jun 7, 2014
Deborah Martinez

KUNM's Public Health Reporter Deborah Martinez took first place in two news categories for large market radio stations at the annual New Mexico Broadcasters Association awards banquet last night in Albuquerque.

Veterans Health Administration

  Members of New Mexico's congressional delegation have lots of questions for officials with the New Mexico Veterans Affairs health care system, but the answers have been few.

And more concerns are being raised by U.S. Rep. Michele Lujan Grisham following revelations that thousands of veterans were left in limbo by being assigned to a doctor who didn't actually see patients.

The New Mexico Democrat has asked for the results of an internal review of the New Mexico VA, but local officials have yet to comply.

State To Pay, Certify Promotoras

Jun 4, 2014
Deborah Martinez

new law aimed at paying community health workers will kick in this summer. These women and men provide health and social services to their neighbors and act as a vital link between time-strapped doctors and their patients.  Health promoters – or promotoras – are helping homebound New Mexicans get the healthcare they need.

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.

NM Seniors Not Hungry For Food Assistance

May 29, 2014
Wikimedia Commons

Thirteen percent of seniors in New Mexico are under threat of not getting enough eat, according to an analysis of the most recent data by the National Foundation to End Senior Hunger.

But a lot of eligible seniors here are not signing up for food assistance, and that could mean $30 million worth of benefits are going unclaimed.

Rita Daniels

  About 75 people gathered last night in Albuquerque's southeast heights for a teach-in about the Kirtland Air Force Base jet fuel leak. 

A panel of elected officials, scientists and environmental activists went over what is and what is not being done to clean up the plume of millions of gallons of contamination creeping towards the city's drinking water supply wells at a rate that has many people alarmed. 

Will NM's Medical Marijuana Program Be Snuffed Out?

May 21, 2014
Rusty Blazenhoff via Flickr / Creative Commons License

KUNM Call In Show Thu. 5/22 8a:  New Mexico’s Department of Health has announced proposed rule changes to the state's medical marijuana program. The changes include increased fees for patients and for growers.

my_southborough via Creative Commons

KUNM's Public Health correspondent Marisa Demarco recently completed a three part series on the use of solitary confinement in New Mexico prisons and jails.

A recent report co-authored by the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty and the American Civil Liberties Union New Mexico found the practice to be not only ineffective, but inhumane and expensive.  

Demarco explained to KUNM's Rita Daniels that some inmates were put in segregation for really long periods of time, over two years in one case.

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