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.

Hannah Colton / KUNM

Kirtland Air Force Base will host an open house Thursday evening about their efforts to clean up groundwater contamination from a decades-old jet fuel spill. 

Ajnagraphy via compfight / Creative Commons License

A second man has accused former Santa Fe mayor Louis Montaño of child sexual abuse in a lawsuit filed Tuesday against the Santa Fe Boys & Girls Club. Montaño was the director of the youth organization, then called the Boys Club of Santa Fe, when the alleged abuse took place.  

Creative Commons

Let's Talk New Mexico 7/18 8a: Thousands of New Mexicans with intellectual and developmental disabilities have waited years to get access to group homes, therapies and other services. We’ll discuss the plan Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced this month to get everyone off the waitlist for the developmental disability (DD) waiver program over the next six years. Have you or someone you know been on the waitlist? What would it take to get everyone the services they are eligible for in a timely fashion? Email us your thoughts at LetsTalk@kunm.org, or call in live during the show.

UNM Staff Now Have Paid Parental Leave

Jul 9, 2019
Kelly Sikema via Unsplash / Unsplash license

If you are staff at the University of New Mexico, you haven’t been offered paid leave when you have a baby or adopt a child – until now.

UNM’s paid parental leave policy went into effect this month. Part-time and full-time staff employees at all UNM campuses can now take four weeks of paid leave when they welcome a new child into their family as long as they’ve been at UNM for at least a year.

Hannah Colton/KUNM

The New Mexico legislature this spring passed increases in education funding, in response to a judge’s order saying the state has violated the constitutional rights of at-risk students. Last week, attorneys for the plaintiffs filed a notice with the court saying the state has not done nearly enough.

Bryce Dix/KUNM

Hundreds of protesters gathered Tuesday in downtown Albuquerque to demand an end to inhumane conditions in detention centers at the U.S.-Mexico border. It was part of a nationwide response to federal immigration policies that have separated family members, led to migrant deaths in detention and sought to limit who can seek asylum in the U.S.

Courtesy of Sharon Argenbright

Negotiations continue between UNM Hospitals (UNMH) and the union that represents about 4500 of its nurses, aides, housekeepers and other workers. The union is holding out for better compensation in their new contract, which is meant to begin July 1st.

Tiny Home Village Finalizes ABQ Location

Jun 27, 2019
Courtesy Bernalillo County

 

A village of tiny homes for folks experiencing homelessness in Bernalillo County has officially nailed down a location. 

Hannah Colton / KUNM

  Let's Talk NM 6/27 8a: With Fourth of July weekend just ahead and Pride celebrations ongoing, ‘tis the season for summer parties. And for many, that means being in social situations where the booze is flowing. On the next Let’s Talk New Mexico, we’re talking sobriety this summer. If you’ve quit drinking or using drugs, how has that changed the way you connect with people? What can friends and family do to support their sober loved ones? Email LetsTalk@KUNM.org or call in live during the show.

Hannah Colton / KUNM

It was announced Friday, June 21, that almost 400 people have filed claims of clergy sexual abuse against New Mexico’s largest Roman Catholic diocese. In coming months, the Archdiocese of Santa Fe will negotiate reparations.

Hannah Colton / KUNM

More than 200 people are bringing claims of sexual abuse against the Archdiocese of Santa Fe as the church goes through a bankruptcy. Anyone who still wants to file a claim has until next Monday to do it.

Hannah Colton / KUNM

New Mexico is under court order to better serve at-risk students, including English language learners. This spring marked a shift in Albuquerque Public Schools’ approach to the hundreds of refugees and recent immigrants in the district. 

Most NM Kids Are Getting Measles Shots

Jun 6, 2019
Teseum via Flickr / Creative Commons License

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.

Hannah Colton / KUNM

A coalition of New Mexico lawmakers, advocates and residents say the U.S. Air Force has been too slow to respond to a decades-old jet fuel spill at Kirtland Air Force Base. It’s been 20 years since the spill was discovered and the coalition announced Friday that they plan to file a lawsuit to try to get the military to intensify cleanup efforts. 

Airman Valerie Monroy / U.S. Air Force

Thousands of New Mexicans would no longer be able to sign up for childcare assistance under a rule proposed by the Children Youth and Families Department this week.

of New Mexicans would no longer qualify for childcare assistance under  by the Children Youth and Families Department this week.

Hannah Colton / KUNM

A major deadline in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization process is fast approaching. Survivors of sexual abuse have until June 17, 2019, to file claims against the archdiocese.

Hannah Colton / KUNM

Albuquerque Public Schools has finalized a nearly $1.5 billion budget. It reflects a nearly 14% hike in state funding, even though enrollment is dropping. The new money is in response to a landmark education equity ruling.

Hannah Colton / KUNM

To hear Kirtland Air Force Base officials tell it, the cleanup of a decades-old jet fuel spill in Southeast Albuquerque is going great. Their pump-and-treat system is shrinking a major swath of the pollution in the city’s aquifer. But there’s a long history of distrust between the military and the community on this project, and there’s still a lot more to clean up.

courtesy of Marcie Davis

Three New Mexico agencies are getting $200,000 each to plan responses to the opioid crisis in rural parts of the state. One will use the funding to do regional-level evaluation and coordination in Rio Arriba and Taos Counties.

pixnpics via Flickr, cropped / Creative Commons License


The New Mexico Department of Health has missed its mark for early childhood health services and needs to create a whole new strategy to improve health outcomes. That’s according to a new report from the state Legislative Finance Committee.

Hannah Colton / KUNM

Advocates packed the Albuquerque City Council chambers Monday night in support of a resolution to spend $250,000 to help care for migrants passing through the city as they seek asylum. Support for the measure was overwhelming, but not unanimous, and it passed by a vote of 6 to 3.  

UNM Doctor: Measles Will Come To N.M.

Apr 30, 2019
Daniel Paquet via Flickr / Creative Commons License


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.

courtesy Kelly Geib-Eckenroth

Grief is the price of love, experts say, and when children have a family member or friend die, they may need help processing those hard emotions. The Children’s Grief Center (CGC) of New Mexico offers a range of free services to families, and they’re currently taking applications for their summer camp in June.

Alcohol-Related Liver Disease Deaths Rise Sharply

Apr 26, 2019
Johann Trasch via Unsplash / Unsplash License


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.

Hannah Colton / KUNM Public Radio

The U.S. Air Force will host a public meeting Thursday night about the cleanup of a decades-old jet fuel spill north of Kirtland Air Force Base. Military officials say the cleanup is proceeding as planned, despite a reported reduction in the project budget this year. 

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.

School-Based Health Centers, Explained

Apr 24, 2019
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

Let's Talk New Mexico, 4/25 8a: This month, at least ten people have been killed in acts of violence or child abuse in Albuquerque alone. Each sudden death is a deep loss, and the ripple effects are felt throughout New Mexico families, neighborhoods and schools. How have you or your community been affected by violence? What kinds of support do you need? This week on Let’s Talk New Mexico, we’ll remember those lost to violence and discuss ways to cope with grief and community trauma. To share your experience, email LetsTalk@kunm.org or call in live during the show.

Hannah Colton / KUNM Public Radio

There are as many pathways to a job or career in New Mexico as there are people. Some face more obstacles, though, and if regular high school doesn’t work out, the path can be especially steep. That’s where alternative schools and adult education programs can help. KUNM has this look at one charter high school inside a trade school.

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