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.

Jake Schoellkopf / NMDOT

The state is looking to hire hundreds of new employees over the next two weeks. Agencies will accept walk-in applicants at “rapid hire” events in Carlsbad, Roswell, Farmington, Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Las Cruces. 

Hannah Colton / KUNM Public Radio

Let's Talk New Mexico 4/11 8a: From the film industry to welding to culinary arts, technical training programs can help people find careers. This week, we’re talking about apprenticeships and vocational training, and we want to hear from you. 

What kind of career and technical education would be helpful for you? Have you been in a program like this? How accessible are these opportunities to job-seekers of different ages and backgrounds? Call in live during the show or email LetsTalk@kunm.org

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.

Vaping Replacing Cigarettes Among N.M. Teens

Mar 27, 2019
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.

Hannah Colton / KUNM Public Radio

Whittier Elementary School in southeast Albuquerque is making a comeback. In 2017, the state Public Education Department designated it as among the worst of the “failing” schools. Albuquerque Public Schools came up with a plan to turn things around at Whittier, including increased staffing and afternoon extracurricular time called Genius Hour. KUNM visited a Genius Hour recently when the drama club presented its play.

Hannah Colton / KUNM Public Radio

This winter, a pipe burst at Coronado Elementary in downtown Albuquerque, damaging the school library. The city public library responded by issuing library cards to all Coronado students. Librarians presented the cards last week, and KUNM spoke with some fourth graders there.

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.

Hannah Colton/KUNM

School districts in New Mexico have options when it comes to trying to protect students and staff from violence. Rio Rancho Public Schools recently rolled out armed security guards, and not everyone is happy with that decision.

Pre-Existing Conditions Bill Heads To Governor

Mar 15, 2019
401(K)2013 via Wikimedia / CREATIVE COMMONS

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.

Hannah Colton / KUNM Public Radio

On Friday, lawmakers advanced a bill that would make it easier for New Mexico school districts to recruit retired law enforcement officers to work as school security guards. The proposal took form in the wake of the December 2017 school shooting in Aztec, in which two students were killed. 

Senate OKs Medicaid Coverage Of Tobacco Cessation

Mar 13, 2019
Julia via Flickr / Creative Commons Attribution License


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.

NM Legislature webcast

With a little over a week left in the session, some lawmakers aren’t ready to give up on a proposal to devote more Land Grant Permanent Fund earnings to early childhood education. A bill that would have put the idea to voters died in the Senate Rules Committee earlier this week. But Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham showed up at a committee hearing this morning to push for a scaled-back version.

David Holt via Flickr / Creative Commons License

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.

N.M. Could Boost School Health Center Funding

Mar 5, 2019
Nduati.githae via Wikimedia Commons / Creative Commons

 

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.

Fibonacci Blue via Flickr / Creative Commons


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.

Ammodramus / Creative Commons

Nearly a quarter of New Mexicans live in rural areas, where things like high-speed internet, free meeting spaces and educational opportunities can be scarce. Public libraries are sometimes the only place to access those resources, and most are run on shoestring budgets or with volunteer support. Lawmakers have been looking at a bill to provide a permanent source of funding to rural libraries, but state Senators took most of the money out before passing it on the Senate floor on Friday. 

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.

Ken Lund / Creative Commons

Let's Talk New Mexico 2/28 8a: Public charter schools play an important and often controversial role in our education system. On the show, we'll ask how charter schools can be great at meeting students’ unique needs, even while the charter school system can exacerbate inequalities between public schools. Do you or someone you know work at or go to a charter school? How did that go? We’d like to hear from you. Email LetsTalk@kunm.org, tweet your comment with the hashtag #LetsTalkNM, or call in live during the show.

Hannah Colton / KUNM

Tucked inside a major education bill New Mexico lawmakers are considering is an age cap that would ban public schools from getting funding for students older than 21. The idea is that anyone 22-and-up could pursue the GED instead of a high school diploma, but staff and students at Gordon Bernell Charter School (GBCS) in Albuquerque are calling for lawmakers to spare their program.

Navajo Tech

Tribal colleges are the only public higher education institutions in New Mexico where students cannot use the state lottery scholarship. A measure approved by the Senate Education Committee on Friday morning would change that.

May Ortega | KUNM

New Mexico has one of the highest suicide rates in the country. And more than half of those deaths involved a gun.

Some state lawmakers want to reduce suicides by confiscating guns from people who could pose a danger to themselves or others.

The measure’s known as a red flag law.

photo by Sgt. Jim Greenhill / U.S. Army

New Mexico Governor Pulls National Guard Troops From Border - Associated Press

The governor of New Mexico is withdrawing the majority of the state's National Guard troops from the U.S. border with Mexico in a move that challenges President Trump's description of a security crisis.

Ben White via Unsplash / Unsplash Attribution License

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.

Medicaid Buy-In Bill, Explained

Feb 4, 2019
rawpixel via Unsplash / Unsplash Attribution License

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.

Adam Herrada / U.S. Navy

Let’s Talk New Mexico 2/7 8a:  Early childhood is a crucial time for learning and development. It’s on the minds of many lawmakers this session, and Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has declared universal pre-K one of her top priorities. But where will funding for those programs come from? And how can the state better coordinate the various services to ensure kids don’t miss out? We’d like to hear from you! Email LetsTalk@kunm.org, tweet us using the #LetsTalkNM hashtag, or call in live during the show.  

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.

Hannah Colton / KUNM Public Radio

Albuquerque Public Schools is grappling with how to respond to critics who say the district disrespects and ignores Native American culture and history.

A public meeting APS held last week underscored a disconnect between what the district is promising and the systemic changes that many people want to see.

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