KUNM

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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Outbreaks of measles are popping up around the country, and more parents in New Mexico are requesting vaccine exemptions for their kids. But most kids here are getting vaccinated for measles.

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The United States is going through its largest measles outbreak since the disease was eliminated in 2000, with more than 700 cases in 22 states. There have been no reported cases of the measles in New Mexico, but local experts say that could change any day now.

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New Mexico has the highest alcohol-related death rate in the country. The leading cause is liver disease. And the rate of folks who are dying from alcohol-related liver disease rose by 35 percent over the last five years.

May Ortega | KUNM

Students and adults can get free, confidential health care at a school-based health center in Albuquerque's South Valley.

But leaders at the health center at Robert F. Kennedy Charter School say they’re anticipating they’ll lose their funding and shut down.

May Ortega | KUNM

Students in New Mexico often have more than just homework to deal with. Sometimes they’re fighting depression or they don’t have enough to eat at home. These aren’t the kinds of things you can go to the school nurse for.

But there are dozens of school-based health centers across New Mexico that do address these problems.

Courtesy Bobbie MacKenzie

City officials in Las Cruces say they’ve accepted hundreds of asylum seekers released from detention in just over a week. Those folks might need to see a doctor, a therapist or simply have a warm meal.

Hannah Colton / KUNM Public Radio

Whether it’s losing a family member, getting bullied, or witnessing violence, traumatic stress early in life can affect a person’s emotional health well into adulthood. KUNM visited a mental health worker at an alternative high school in Albuquerque to find out how some young adults are working to recover.

May Ortega | KUNM

 

New Mexico high school students are smoking cigarettes a lot less than they used to. The rate among high schoolers in the state is at an all-time low. But now they’re using e-cigarettes. That rate is on track to outpace all other forms of tobacco use.

May Ortega | KUNM / KUNM Radio

Having a lot of abandoned or foreclosed homes in your community can hurt morale and drag down property values. A group of neighborhood associations in Southeast Albuquerque are taking things into their own hands.

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The Affordable Care Act says health insurers can’t deny coverage for someone or charge them more if they have a pre-existing condition.

State senators approved a local measure 21-14 Thursday night that would protect folks in case that law is weakened or repealed. It now heads to Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham's desk.

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The state Senate unanimously passed a bill this week to have Medicaid cover services to help people quit smoking.

 

Under the proposal, Medicaid would pay for counseling, medications and other resources that help get folks off cigarettes, e-cigs and chewing tobacco.

Hannah Colton / KUNM Public Radio

The Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission will hold a series of public hearings throughout March to gather reports of mistreatment of Native American students in K-12 schools in and around the Navajo Nation. 

Austin Fisher | Rio Grande Sun / Courtesy of the Rio Grande Sun

Española residents didn’t know about drinking water contamination for months. Thursday city officials issued a warning about high levels of nitrates in the city’s water that could be harmful to children and pregnant women and possibly fatal for infants.

Public Health New Mexico’s May Ortega spoke with Austin Fisher who broke the story this week for the Rio Grande Sun. He says test results show contaminant levels are lower now than they were in the fall.

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Young children are being hospitalized with the flu in New Mexico at more than three times the national rate. There have been 122 hospitalizations of children four years old or younger so far this flu season, according to the Department of Health, but those numbers only represent 60 percent of the state's population.

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A bill that would require universal background checks for almost all gun sales is a signature away from becoming law in New Mexico.

More than two-dozen sheriffs signed a letter opposing it, but the Albuquerque Police Department’s on board.

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School-based health centers provide basic health care to students across the state. Several communities have lost theirs due to budget cuts over the last few years.

But some advocates are optimistic that these health care hubs could be revitalized this session.

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Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham is expected to sign a measure into law that will require background checks for virtually all private gun sales except for sales of antiques and between relatives.

 

Gun safety advocates have been pushing for this type of legislation for years.

Courtesy of the Adelante Development Center / Adelante Development Center

 

Some folks who receive Social Security disability benefits qualify for a free federal work program that can help them find a job.

Few eligible New Mexicans actually enrolled in the program last year, but participation is improving some.

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UPDATE 2/11: The Domestic Violence and Firearm Possession bill has made it past the state House floor and now heads to the Senate. 

New Mexico’s Indian Education Act just got an update. A bill signed by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham on Monday spells out how school districts must study the needs of their Native American students and come up with systematic ways to address them.

The new measure requires school districts with Native American students to develop frameworks and budget priorities to help those students succeed.

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State lawmakers are considering a bill that would let residents who aren’t eligible for Medicaid coverage to buy into the program.

 

Nearly one million low-income New Mexicans were covered in 2017 when the state chipped in $1 billion of $5 billion for things like health care services.

Hannah Colton / KUNM Public Radio

Albuquerque school district residents are voting on property tax increases that would raise about a billion dollars for projects over the next six years. The special mail-in ballots must be received in the Bernalillo County Clerks’ office by Tuesday, February 5th.

May Ortega | KUNM

President Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant policies have fueled anxiety among undocumented youth in New Mexico. There are local factors that cause stress, too, and there are a few things young folks can do that might help them feel better.

Hannah Colton / KUNM Public Radio

Let’s Talk New Mexico 1/24 8a: Fixing inequalities in New Mexico’s public school system is a top priority for lawmakers this year. This Thursday morning we’ll explore how to do this huge, complicated task and balance the needs of so many diverse students.  Are you an educator, an administrator, a student, a parent? Do you have your own ideas on how to create equity in public schools? We'd like to hear from you! Email LetsTalk@KUNM.org or call in live during the show.

Hannah Colton / KUNM

Public education is the top issue as state lawmakers begin their 60-day session on Tuesday, and there’s oil and gas money to spend.

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Paying bills during the partial government shutdown might be tough for federal workers who’ve been furloughed or who are showing up to work and not getting paid.

Several New Mexico utilities are working to relieve some of those worries.

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Among the federal agencies left unfunded by the partial government shutdown is the Indian Health Service, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Aaron Cantú, a staff reporter for the Santa Fe Reporter, has been trying to understand how that’s affecting Native American health care in northern New Mexico. 

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UPDATE 1/11: The Department of Health now says it'll be able to stretch its funds for the WIC program through April 2019.

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Some kids have a hard time getting enough to eat while school is out for winter break. Albuquerque Public Schools will offer free meals for students starting Friday.

Courtesy UNM Midwives

 

Research has shown that newborns have healthier birth weights when their mothers receive proper prenatal care and that stress can contribute to early deliveries.

The University of New Mexico Hospital's CenteringPregnancy program for expecting mothers focuses on the social aspects of maternal health.

 

Kelly Gallagher, the head of the hospital’s Midwifery Division, is in charge of the program.

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