Public Health New Mexico

Mission

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.

We cover the politicians, the policies, and the agencies responsible for sustaining public health and solving poverty. To fully report on these topics, we give voice to those who are voiceless in the media: people and practitioners; advocates and analysts; researchers and activists; and people hoping to build a better way of life. Through our work, citizens are engaged, government is made more accountable, and the profile of public health and poverty is elevated by expanded public discourse and civic engagement.

This project has been sustained by support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundationthe McCune Charitable FoundationCon Alma Health Foundation. and private donors.

KUNM broadcasts on transmitter throughout central and northern New Mexico, reaching more than half the state’s population.  Nielsen Audio Research from Fall 2014 shows 100,000 people a week listen to KUNM.

UNM CCD, NM PED

About one in 60 children is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) nationwide, and that rate is rising. The New Mexico Public Education Department announced Wednesday a new online autism portal where families and educators can go to find resources and support.

Alcohol Death Rate Rises In N.M.

Sep 25, 2019
Thomas Picauly via Unsplash / Unsplash license


New Mexico has had the country’s highest rate of alcohol-related deaths for more than 20 years. And last year it only got worse.

 

Hans Kretzmann / Pixabay / Creative Commons

New Mexico’s behavioral health system still hasn’t recovered from 2013, when many service providers were forced to close under former Gov. Susana Martinez’ administration. Now, the Children Youth and Families Department has been awarded $12 million dollars in grant funds from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to bolster services for young people in three rural counties.

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Let's Talk NM 10/3, 8a: New Mexico could become the 2nd state in the country to make college tuition-free at four-year and two-year public institutions for eligible students. Last week, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced a proposal to pay any tuition and fees not covered by the Lottery Scholarship or other grants, regardless of family income. If you're crunching numbers for college, how would this change things? Are expenses like room, board and transportation barriers to higher education for you? Does the governor's proposal do enough to help the students who need financial aid the most? We want to hear from you! Email letstalk@kunm.org, tweet at us with the hashtag #LetsTalkNM. This show was taped on September 26, so we won't be taking live calls. 

cabriolet2008 / Flickr

Just half of New Mexico high school seniors last year filled out a form to get federal assistance in paying for college, according to state officals. Now, the state's Public Education Department is launching efforts to boost that number as part of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s plan to make college free for New Mexicans at public institutions. 

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People with intellectual and developmental disabilities often get individualized support in order to hold a job. Many work for regular pay, but a nearly century-old federal labor law allows some employers to pay these workers less than minimum wage.

Lawmakers called a task force to study this issue earlier this year. The Legislative Health and Human Services' Disabilities Concerns Subcommittee heard arguments Wednesday for and against the controversial practice.

Vaping Illness Cases Rise To 12 In New Mexico

Sep 11, 2019
Lindsay Fox via Flickr / Creative Commons License

There are more cases of vaping-related illnesses appearing all over the country, and New Mexico is no exception. 

Uninsured Rate Sees Biggest Increase In Years

Sep 10, 2019
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The United States Census Bureau has found that the national number of people who are uninsured increased significantly last year. This marks the first such change since the Affordable Care Act took effect in 2010.

LEAD Santa Fe

Let's Talk NM 9/5, 8a: Communities across New Mexico are trying a new approach to substance use disorder: having law enforcement work with service providers to get people into treatment instead of sending them to jail. We wrap up our summer series on recovery with a discussion of Law Enforcement-Assisted Diversion and similar programs. We want to hear from you! If you've quit using drugs or alcohol, how did interactions with the criminal justice system help or hurt your recovery process? How do these diversion programs make a difference for people who want to quit using? Do they go far enough in treating addiction as a public health issue rather than a criminal issue? Email questions or comments to LetsTalk@kunm.org, or call in live during the show at (505) 277-5866.

Hannah Colton / KUNM

Forty-five people turned in paperwork Tuesday to run for office in a slew of local elections in Bernalillo County. Local government, education, and soil and water conservancy seats will all be on county ballots this November.

County Health Council To Host Gun Violence Talks

Aug 28, 2019
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Recent mass shootings in El Paso and Ohio have locals looking for solutions to gun violence. Bernalillo County will host a series of community conversations on how to prevent people from shooting people.

Hannah Colton / KUNM

Lawmakers and state education officials met with representatives of northern New Mexico school districts for several days last week. The interim meeting of the Legislative Education Study Committee was held in Dulce, near Chama, up by the New Mexico-Colorado state line.

robertelyov via Flickr / Creative Commons License

We’re two weeks into the school year and school-based health centers around New Mexico are still waiting on the state to finalize funding contracts.

Hannah Colton / KUNM

It’s decision time for people hoping to get elected to leadership at the state’s largest public school district. Next Tuesday is the deadline to file for candidacy in the Albuquerque Public Schools’ board election.

Photo by Brett Andrei Martin on Unsplash / Unsplash license


The University of New Mexico School of Medicine has created a new office to address mistreatment of students, residents and fellows.

Ron Reiring / Creative Commons

The City of Albuquerque is looking to get more people experiencing homelessness into temporary housing assistance by early winter. The city plans to spend two million dollars on a new rapid re-housing contract.

Hannah Colton / KUNM

As New Mexico students settle back into the classroom, the Public Education Department is getting a new leader. Dr. Ryan Stewart was hired just a few weeks after Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham fired her first education secretary.  Stewart spent time visiting schools Tuesday, and he sat down with a couple dozen educators to hear their biggest concerns.

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The Trump administration has issued a new rule that could deny visas and green cards to some immigrants if they use government assistance programs like Medicaid or food assistance, citing the need for self-sufficiency and the cost.

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It just got a little easier for people raising kids to run for public office in Albuquerque. The city announced this week a change to election rules that allows campaign funds to be used to pay for child care.

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Studies about kidney disease in the United States have historically left out Native Americans, but a pair of researchers at the University of New Mexico have won a $3.5 million grant that they hope will make way for more equity in health care research. 

Hannah Colton / KUNM

People in New Mexico are reeling from a mass shooting just a couple hundred miles away this weekend. The gunman, who killed 22 people at a Walmart in El Paso, is believed to have written a white supremacist manifesto railing against Hispanic people and immigrants; he's in custody and charged with murder. KUNM went out to see how this is affecting Albuquerque residents.

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  Let's Talk New Mexico 8/8, 8a: Call in now 505-277-5866. New Mexicans trying to kick an addiction to opioids have limited places to go for treatment. We're talking about options for recovery, and we want to hear from you. If you’ve quit using opioids, what was that like? And what helped? Have you sought out medication-assisted treatment, like a methadone clinic, or used medical cannabis in recovering from opioid addiction? Email LetsTalk@kunm.org, tweet with the hashtag #LetsTalkNM, or call in live during the show at (505) 277-5866.

Saving Your Liver

Aug 1, 2019


When folks in New Mexico need a liver transplant, it marks the start of a long, difficult journey. You have to fight the odds just to qualify for one. You also have to be willing and able to afford going out of state for the surgery. All the while, the federal rules make it less likely that you’ll ever get one.

 

So what can be done so folks here don’t need a liver transplant in the first place? 

Transplant Rules Leave NM Behind

Jul 30, 2019
May Ortega | KUNM


When a liver is available for donation anywhere in the country, there are federal rules that dictate who gets it. The sicker you are, the sooner you get one. 

 

Those rules were updated this year and they’re supposed to help more folks get that life-saving transplant. But the new rules might not make things better for everyone.

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The Trump Administration earlier this year proposed changes to a section of the Affordable Care Act that spells out civil rights protections. The new rules issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services would loosen requirements and give health care providers more say over when they provide interpretation and translation services, and to whom.

Hannah Colton / KUNM

A pump-and-treat system is the main way that Kirtland Air Force Base has been cleaning up a jet fuel spill they discovered back in the ‘90s. For years, the treated water has gone either straight back into the aquifer or to the base’s golf course. Now, Kirtland is seeking permission for a third option—to dump water into the nearby Tijeras Arroyo.

New Mexico PBS

Native American Congresswoman Endorses Elizabeth Warren Associated Press

One of two Native American women in Congress has endorsed Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren.

Liver Waitlist Slots Are Scarce

Jul 30, 2019
May Ortega | KUNM


We’ve been exploring the difficulties New Mexicans face when they need a liver transplant, like the fact that we don’t have a place to get one in the entire state. 

 

That means it can be challenging just to get on a liver transplant waitlist. 

Need A New Liver? You’ve Got A Long Way To Go

Jul 29, 2019
May Ortega | KUNM


If you live in New Mexico and you need a liver transplant, you better pack your bags because you can’t get that surgery anywhere in the state.

Monika Stawowy via PXHere / public domain

As kids head back to school soon, districts must contend with a new state law allowing students with a medical marijuana prescription to take their medicine at school. New Mexico health and education officials are working to iron out details like how schools will store medication and who can administer it.

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