Doña Ana County



Following on the heels of a community forum on health care in Las Cruces last week, the region’s major providers of healthcare services held a roundtable discussion today at the Las Cruces Hilton.

More than 80 people attended the roundtable to process input from residents who attended the July 27 public health forum at Las Cruces High School. Among those attending Saturday’s event were officials from Memorial Medical Center, Mountain View Regional Medical Center, La Clinica de la Familia, Ben Archer Health Clinic, St. Luke’s Health Clinic, First Step Center, the New Mexico departments of Health and Border Health.

Representatives from the offices of U.S. Senators Pete Domenici and Jeff Bingaman attended, as did a representative of U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce. Also attending were District 4 County Commissioner D. Kent Evans, District 1 County Commissioner Oscar Vásquez-Butler, Mayor Ruben Segura of the City of Sunland Park, Las Cruces City Councilor Steve Trowbridge and County Manager Brian D. Haines. Several community groups and local school districts were represented.

Six major topic areas were discussed: 1) Access to care; 2) Healthcare human resources; 3) Priority health issues; 4) Undocumented immigrants; 5) Costs of care, insurance and physician reimbursement; and 6) Behavioral health issues.

In each area of discussion, priority issues were identified for action. The group chose to concentrate on about a dozen major steps to move healthcare forward in Doña Ana County.

The Doña Ana County Health and Human Services Alliance was instructed to create strategies to move forward on the identified areas of concern, which include:

* Creation of follow-up forums to focus on behavioral health, dental health and other specialty areas of care identified in Doña Ana County.

* Transportation from rural areas to healthcare provider sites.

* Addressing the ongoing nursing shortage that affects healthcare quality in the region.

* Educational outreach to make residents aware of available services, to reduce fear on the part of undocumented immigrants who need services and how to apply for and receive financial assistance for care.

Doña Ana County Health and Human Services Alliance Chairman Frank Crespin, a Las Cruces phycisian, described the event as a turning point for healthcare in Doña Ana County.

“I think we had good representation from both consumers and providers,” Crespin said. “It was a good initial step toward developing some solutions with regard to healthcare in Doña Ana County. The alliance has big work ahead.”

The Doña Ana County Health and Human Services Department will present a summary of the event on Aug. 9 to the Doña Ana County Board of Commissioners. By Aug. 24, the alliance leadership is expected to begin its work to move forward on the action areas developed and identified as part of the July 27 and July 30 events.

“This will be a long-term process,” said Doña Ana County Health and Human Services Department Director Silvia Sierra. “We’re learning how to communicate better and eliminate turf issues, which will translate into action across the board. I don’t expect overnight results, but I’m confident and hopeful that we’re well on our way to creating a model for healthcare cooperation and service that will resonate throughout the region.”

Sierra said it’s probably that the Doña Ana County Health and Human Services Alliance will continue to grow as new partners emerge who are interested in a comprehensive strategy to deliver services efficiently in Doña Ana County. She said individuals and entities with an interest in the alliance and its mission should contact Jamie Michaels at (505) 528-7958.

***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

Reporters seeking more information or interviews may call county Public Information Director Jess Williams at (505) 647-7229.