The day starts early each Friday at the Mora Independent School District in northern New Mexico. Staff arrive before the sun is up to pack coolers of breakfasts and lunches to supply 310 remote students with five days of meals. By 9 a.m., loaded school buses rumble out of the parking lot on their delivery run.Another 25 students pick up meals at school cafeterias each week day, while 71 students attending in-person classes eat at school Monday through Thursday. It’s just the latest variation for Rachel Martinez, Mora schools food service director. Since COVID-19 shut down schools in March, she’s mailed meals through the postal service and distributed them using six fire departments around the rural district. She and other staff also have hand-delivered meals house to house. But in early September, the district started delivering meals to bus stops, sometimes as close to kids’ homes as the end of a driveway.
State investigating hospital with coronavirus policy that profiled pregnant Native American mothers and separated them from newborns
This article was produced in partnership with ProPublica, a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. New Mexico In Depth is a member of the ProPublica Local Reporting Network. Sign up to receive ProPublica’s biggest stories as soon as they’re published. And sign up to receive New Mexico In Depth stories here. New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced on Twitter Saturday that state officials would investigate allegations of racial profiling of pregnant Native American women at a top hospital in Albuquerque.
Lujan Grisham was reacting to a story published Saturday by New Mexico In Depth and ProPublica revealing that Lovelace Women’s Hospital had a secret policy for screening Native American women for coronavirus based on their appearance and home ZIP code, according to several clinicians who work there.
Described as racial profiling by medical ethicists, the policy resulted in some Native American women being separated from their newborns at birth as hospital staff waited for test results, according to the clinicians. “These are significant, awful allegations and, if true, a disgusting and unforgivable violation of patient rights,” Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, wrote. “The state of New Mexico is investigating whether this constitutes a CMS violation and will unequivocally hold this hospital accountable.”
CMS, or the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, regulates hospitals to ensure that all patients have access to medical care.
This article was produced in partnership with ProPublica, a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. New Mexico In Depth is a member of the ProPublica Local Reporting Network. Sign up to receive ProPublica’s biggest stories as soon as they’re published. And sign up to receive New Mexico In Depth stories here. ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A prominent women’s hospital here has separated some Native American women from their newly born babies, the result of a practice designed to stop the spread of COVID-19 that clinicians and health care ethicists described as racial profiling.
Advanced Health Care facility in Albuquerque. Tara Armijo-Prewitt/New Mexico In Depth
We published a story this week about the nursing home industry resisting for years a federal mandate to plan for disasters including pandemics. About 43% of nursing homes nationally have been caught violating the requirement, including some with deadly COVID-19 outbreaks.
The story by New Mexico In Depth reporter Bryant Furlow and partners at ProPublica and the Raleigh, NC-based News & Observer newspaper features a COVID-19 outbreak and deaths at a nursing home in Albuquerque, Advanced Health Care. As of yesterday, 102 of 335 New Mexicans who have died due to the COVID-19 pandemic were residents of nursing homes, and another 30 were residents of other long-term care facilities. We don’t know how many, if any, staff of nursing homes have died.
It’s important to know that AHC of Albuquerque earned a 5-Star rating — the highest level — from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Nursing Homes Fought Federal Emergency Plan Requirements for Years. Now, They’re Coronavirus Hot Spots.
Advanced Health Care facility in Albuquerque. Tara Armijo-Prewitt/New Mexico In Depth
This article was produced in partnership with ProPublica, a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power, and The News & Observer of Raleigh, North Carolina. The N&O and New Mexico In Depth are members of the ProPublica Local Reporting Network. Sign up to receive ProPublica stories as soon as they’re published. On Dec.
While Navajo people represent the worst hit by COVID-19 in absolute numbers — Navajos represent 45% of all New Mexico’s positive cases – two Pueblo communities are being hit harder, by percentage of their population, according to data provided by state health officials.
About 11% of Zia Pueblo and 4% of San Felipe members have contracted the virus compared to about 2% of Navajo Nation members who live in New Mexico. The New Mexico Department of Health provided New Mexico In Depth a detailed breakdown of the number of positive cases by tribal affiliation through Monday. Those numbers show that the great majority of tribes in the state have cases of COVID-19. The New Mexico Department of Health provided this chart to New Mexico In Depth on Monday, May 11, showing the tribal affiliation of Native American people in New Mexico who have contracted COVID-19 through Monday. Navajo people represented 2,194 of the state’s 5,069 cases on Monday. Reported separately were non-contiguous Navajo chapters.
The BLM Gila District’s Safford Hand Crew works a burnout operation during the 2017 Frye Fire, Coronado National Forest, AZ. BLM/Kress Sanders. One morning in June 2017, while fighting the Frye Fire in southern Arizona, firefighters began visiting the on-site paramedic complaining of body aches, sore throats, fever, and fatigue. The paramedic diagnosed them with strep throat, a bacterial infection that can pass person to person or through food or water, and sent them to the regional medical center.
Then another crew showed up with the same symptoms. And then, a third. Medical staff estimated nearly 300 people might have been exposed.
A toddler in his father’s lap struggled to keep his arm still while Amber Awelagte took his blood pressure.
“Stay still or it will get tighter,” she told the boy. Her calm demeanor seemed to soothe the boy as she finished up then sent him to get tested for COVID-19. In many ways it was a typical day for Awelagte, the lead medical assistant for the Homeless Outreach Program (HOP) at First Nations Community HealthSource, a health center with several clinics in Albuquerque serving the city’s large Native American population. Awelagte provides health services targeting urban Indigenous people in Albuquerque experiencing homelessness.
But unlike most days, on Wednesday First Nations offered testing to their unsheltered clients for the new coronavirus, even if they had no symptoms.
“It is kind of scary to think about it, I don’t want none of my patients getting sick and it’s sad. What is going on in the other Native communities is really bad,” she said. “I just want to try and help and slow it down over here.”
It’s no secret that New Mexico’s tribes are severely impacted by COVID-19.
Statewide, Native Americans account for 56% of those who’ve tested positive for the virus, while making up just 11% of the state population.
Less than two weeks before the first COVID-19 cases showed up in New Mexico, 22-year-old Sevía Gonzales went looking for a therapist to cope with the effects of an unhealthy relationship she recently ended.
Before she could make an appointment for a face-to-face session, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham issued a stay at home order, thrusting Gonzales “…into an equally unbelievable situation.”
She looked for therapists offering remote services covered by her insurance and found a few practices, but each had long waitlists. “The system is just so overwhelmed it’s not even worth it to try to get an appointment at this point,” she said.
Sevía Gonzales. In an effort to continue serving clients during the pandemic, many therapists and counselors across New Mexico have shifted to therapy online or over the phone.
It’s a solution, but one that fundamentally changes the way therapists normally interact with clients, those in the industry say. Usually, therapy is done in the same room sitting face to face, a more intimate setting where therapists not only listen to what a client is saying but can pick up on nonverbal cues.
“It’s better than nothing,” said Patsy Romero, CEO of Santa Maria El Mirador, an adult behavior and intellectual disability care center in Santa Fe. But online or over the phone therapy doesn’t replace face to face treatment, she said.
Clients “express fear that the phones are not secure, or they’re not as forthcoming with how they’re really feeling,” Romero said, adding that body language is sometimes more important in therapeutic treatment than verbal communication.
Face to face processes are much more effective than online therapy, she said.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham last week took a step toward releasing prisoners to blunt the threat of an outbreak of the new coronavirus in New Mexico’s 11 prisons. The first-term, Democratic governor signed a three-page executive order directing her Corrections Department secretary to release nonviolent inmates who have 30 days or less on their sentences and meet other criteria.
But more than a week later, just 14 of the state’s 6,600 inmates had been freed, according to the department, and it is not clear how many others have been identified for release.
New Mexico In Depth, meanwhile, has unearthed an annual survey identifying hundreds of nonviolent inmates — many serving time for drug possession — who could be released during the course of a year. In a six-page annual report from the New Mexico Sentencing Commission, the state’s non-partisan, criminal justice data clearinghouse and policy advising hub, authors wrote that 294 people behind bars in the state’s prisons on June 30, 2019, could be released between Oct. 1, 2019 and Sept. 30 of this year.
Zia Pueblo erected barricades and a checkpoint at the entrance to their community. (Trip Jennings/New Mexico In Depth)
Native Americans make up almost 37% of the positive COVID-19 cases in New Mexico, more than three times their representation in the state’s population. That’s according to a new data dashboard the state Department of Health unveiled today.
Native Americans represent around 11% of the state’s 2 million residents. In comparison, Anglos, who make up 37 percent of New Mexico’s population, represent just under 24% of the state’s positive cases. And Hispanics, 49% of the population, represent just 27% of the positive cases.
Also disproportionately affected, but by a much smaller margin, are African Americans, who make up 2.6% of the statewide population, but 3.1% of COVID-19 cases.