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Española & Santa Fe 2/18 Echo

Participants: Andrew Baker, Barbara Webber, Loren Schoonover, Joe Martinez, Don Bustos, Lupe Salazar



  • Going over bills that we’ve been watching during this session.

  • Status of vaccinations in your community

    • There’s a number that you can call through the DOH; they can get you registered there if you’re unable to get registered online.

    • Individuals who have questions or would like support with the registration process - including New Mexicans who do not have internet access - can dial 1-855-600-3453, press option 0 for vaccine questions, and then option 4 for tech support.

  • Long-term care facility in Las Cumbres has access to vaccines. They are setting up vaccinations through those units. Some people there are in their second phase, some are still in first. There are over 100 people who are still lining up to get their vaccine.

Rural Voices for COVID Recovery

Española & Santa Fe 1/28 Echo

Participants: Joe Martinez, Loren Schoonover, Andrew Baker, Barbara Webber, Don Bustos, Lupe Salazar, Yesi Daniel, Jay Wilson


Don Bustos: Farmer in Santa Cruz, Española. Have two sheep hanging in the shed, making some lamb stew. Main concerns are easy and equitable access to resources in rural communities. Finding it difficult to fill out forms and do everything on the internet.


Yesi Daniel: Educator and community organizer. Education program manager of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains. Serving the community wherever we can! Right now serving to make connections and network with other people in the community.


Lupe Salazar: Worried about mental health issues and drug addiction. Other issues. 


Joseluis Ortiz: Liaison at Northern NM Community College. Teaching land-based ways of living and knowing. Focus on students, families and youth in the Española Valley. Promoting traditional ways. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Environmental, Racial justice to solve issues in our own community



  • Legislative Updates from HANM!

    • HB 177, SB 188, Food Accessibility/Homemade Food Act, Food Hunger and Farm Bill of 2021.

    • Talk that schools will go back to in-person in two weeks.

  • YD: There have been issues with the vaccine rollout: people aren’t given much notice of when they’re scheduled to get the vaccine, which creates issues of accessibility.

  • JM: What have you heard about vaccine distribution in your community? And who have you heard it from?

    • LS: We’ve heard that you have to sign up for the vaccine, but not sure how simple or complex that is. Only know a few people who have taken it, but still uneducated on the issue.

    • DB: Went to the doctor’s last Tuesday, the doctor didn’t know much about the issue at all and sent me to someone else at the hospital. She was trying to figure out how to get people on the signup sheet. People above 75 are the first priority, was told to go onto the website and register there. At this point it might be easier to wait for the National Guard to set up those vaccination sites in public

    • JO: The only thing that I’ve heard from family members is that they’re vaccinating elderly populations. It was impossible to get my father a vaccine soon and he’s 65. He had to sign up through the website.

  • JM: The state had been given a promise on the number of vaccines, but we didn’t get everything that had been promised. There have been more orders on production and much more coordination on production and distribution efforts.

  • BW: every resident and member in a long-term care facility has received their first dosage of the vaccine, still have to wait 2-3 weeks for the booster, and 2-3 weeks after that for full protection. Still having trouble accessing the website. Some people have had to register more than once.

  • DB: What do we do if we live with someone who’s at risk but refuses to receive the vaccine?

    • BW: That’s a hard question, not sure if there’s going to be a mandate at this point.

    • JM: Best strategy at this point is to wait until more people get the vaccine and get information out. People form opinions with limited information, but once we get examples in the community, it should be easier to get people vaccinated.

  • YD: There hasn’t been much dissemination of the link to register for vaccination. My family learned about it on the local news. People want to get the vaccine, but some are unsure of how to register.

  • JM: Are there any other bills that have come up that you’re interested in? Small farmers are such a critical part of the New Mexico food system.

    • JO: As we’ve partnered with the Northern NM Community college, it’s frustrating that they’re not considering how to serve traditional agricultural practices, or rural communities. We have to figure out how to create and lobby for a bill that would get resources to agriculture programs and cultural sustainability practices. If we don’t have the capacity to ask for money through grant proposals or community development, that’s bad. We have to be able to fast-track that infrastructure and make sure that local ag is able to thrive.

LS: We have to think about ways to get people engaged and involved with nature. We need starters here - lots of kids don’t have that opportunity to see where things come from. There are generations of families who haven’t lived in their own homes because of the opioid epidemic. We need to think about sustainability and something positive in the home to solve these issues. Grandparents have taken on a larger role - there’s not time or money to have a little garden, it’s easier and cheaper to get something from the dollar menu. Gardening may not be for everyone, but we don’t know unless we try.

Rural Voices for COVID Recovery

Carlsbad & Artesia 1/7 Echo

Participants: Andrew Baker, Barbara Webber, Joe Martinez, Loren Schoonover, David Briseño, Alice, Nadia Sikes, Gabby Rivera


Alice: Primary Care providers in nursing homes have been able to get the vaccine, so we’ve seen more people start seeking their services. Some facilities are large enough that they can separate vaccinated and unvaccinated people, but there’s still concern that some people will choose not to get the vaccine and put those populations at risk.


David: Working in Portales. Most of the things we’ve encountered have been positive. Working with nursing homes in Portales to get them registered for the vaccine. Some have been able to get registered on their own, but others have had trouble. Staff is getting them set up with emails and passwords so that they can get registered. David has gotten the vaccine, but concerned that a lot of the staff have said no to the vaccine. We’ve been hit hard by COVID in Portales. Some people have come down and recovered ok, but it’s still a hit to morale. Still seeing the mess of political overflow in the Southeast area. Still prone to politicization of the crisis. Still working with the food bank and the center on aging. Not hard to get out the food. Once the word is out, people know where to look. David is looking into a summer food service program sponsored by the city. There’s a possibility to do a dinner program in Portales. Seeking vendors now to provide dinners to children (up to 600 meals/day). Grab and go seems to be the most convenient, hopefully we’ll see success in doing that. Purchasing a mobile dental van - we’ve been doing school-based dental programs for the past ten years. It’s difficult to find an empty room at a school, but now we can provide those services much more easily. Expecting delivery of the van in about 4 months. Primarily using that in Roswell - if it’s successful, they’ll be expanding to Portales and other parts of SE NM.


JM: Who is delivering the dental services?


DB: Casa De Familia. Looking to expand that into other communities. Biggest issue is cash flow, there’s already a behavioral health provider, so it’s also a territorial issue.


NS: Did a policy that requires immunization. Making reasonable accommodations for people who refuse, but have to separate employment with those who don’t comply. There are people giving out the vaccination at both the hospital and the health department. There are over 200,000 New Mexicans who have signed up for vaccination. Providers are getting vaccinated. Walmart stores don’t have lines anymore. Restaurants are operating at 25% capacity. When going around Alamogordo, you wouldn’t think they have a virus. People have lost caution and wariness of a disease that’s going to get more serious. Schools are still doing virtual learning. When thinking about providing meals, curbside pickup and twice/week pickups are effective. Food resource guides are getting out to people with the various available options for food relief. Some people are having the problem now that they need more storage space for food. Right now we’re having to rely on the at-home test kits.


JM: What’s the deal with broadband services?

DB/Alice: Nothing new to report. People still have to come to areas with wifi so that they can access work/school.

NS: People in Otero county working on the broadband initiative. All we’re doing now is keeping our legislators in the loop. The library right now is our main point of wifi for children. That’s uncomfortable though, working on longer-term fixes to that. We have approximately 600 children who are disenfranchised because they lack access to the internet. The school has been providing hot spots, but not sure if they’re still doing that. There will be some work done at this legislative session to expand funding for internet services.

Rural Voices for COVID Recovery

Las Colonias 4/6 Echo

One of the local business owners helps people get signed up for vaccinations. There has been a big struggle to get people online because of the lack of internet access. There hasn’t been much information provided to people in Chaparral. The schools have reopened for hybrid learning. Is there any information being provided through the churches? Any news coming out has not gotten to me. We can try to get in contact with them to share that information. Sisters Diana and Chavela will probably be the best source. One of the biggest struggles is getting vaccines out here in Chaparral, and getting people excited about school. Getting them back to campus will be a big struggle. I heard that the main supermarket is closed, has that opened back up? The one that was closed has reopened. Panaderia was closed for renovations, but haven’t heard anything about Steyers.

Have you talked to Mr. Madrid (your state rep)? He could set up a site for registration and to distribute the vaccine. I’ve been trying to get in touch with him, but it’s been tough with the special session. I’m trying to set something up for Anthony NM.

The mom and pop shops here have been struggling. One of the beauty salons next door only had three customers yesterday. People are hoping to regain their customer base once everything reopens, but people are afraid to go out. Some people have gotten both doses, but people are still afraid. People are getting unemployment and are not showing up to work because it’s easier. It’s hard to gauge why people are doing this, but once the federal funding goes away, there’s a hope that people will return to work. As far as Anthony is concerned, I’ve been in contact with several lawmakers. A lot of them don’t want to sit down and talk because the governor has been calling people back into a special session and now they’re trying to rest. On a good note, over 1.3 million people in NM have received at least their first dose! They’re putting out lots of vaccines. There are vaccines trickling down from up north to southern NM, hopefully we’ll really pick up within the next month. Did you hear about the vaccinations happening for New Mexicans on the TX border? I did not. Over where the PDQ used to be, there were people who were getting registered, but we were under the impression that those were just TX residents. That was 2000 vaccines, for both TX and NM residents. We might announce that on Facebook. Nothing else really COVID related. The Board of trustees approved a contractor for the ballpark over on 4th street and that should be starting within the week. That should be finished by mid-November. That’s not just a ballpark, it’s also a flood control site. As we progress, hopefully that park will develop out and get a fishing pond, baseball/soccer fields, tennis courts, hiking, picnic areas and other amenities. We’re selling off part of that land to developers to get money back into the park. When do we anticipate the complex starting/ending? The first phase has already started, with $1.5 million that should get the utilities and the roadways in. It’s going to be ongoing over 3 years.

Tom Lopez and other stores were announcing the vaccinations on facebook. Some of those stores had flyers that they were handing out to let people know.

I work at Loma Linda. Sad thing is that it had been shut down due to a COVID outbreak. Monday would’ve been the first day back to school. We’ve been having construction done and that’s where things got out of hand. Nothing to do with district employees. Other schools are welcoming back students. We are enforcing the 6 foot regulations (with what we can considering the circumstances). Things are changing and that’s going to impact how things run. We’re having 3 lunches to allow for more cleaning. That’s taking away from some specials because of the cleaning times. We aren’t going to have as many cleaning regulations soon. The high schools have the most problems with students coming back. The high school electives aren’t as up to snuff. We really hope that there will be another meeting to change cleaning requirements. We can’t check out books from the library because of those regulations. Sports and volleyball can’t be played between PE classes. We can have sports, but not classes. We have no idea how that got spread because of confidentiality, but from talking to the teachers, we know it was people doing the construction. We are also getting a new intercom system that should hopefully get implemented in the schools. That should be coming to the whole Gadsden school district.

I’ll be advocating during the next city meeting to reopen. People want to go in and get permits and other things. We’ll be doing a presentation to get the other trustees in agreement. My question is on your opinion.

Videotape and be able to show what’s happening on the ground. MVD express is set up to take pictures and they can tell what to do in the case of an outbreak. People are in there.

Tomorrow I’ll be at the post office with some of the other trustees to poll the public on how they feel about reopening.

Wanted to let people know that I got vaccinated! The clinic I went to was first-come-first-serve. We need to let people know that they can get vaccinated at those clinics that are advertised for TX residents. I feel like sometimes they don’t want the NM residents coming to TX. Son has not gotten the vaccine yet, but we’re working on it.

Trying to go fast, but we’ll be sending out a summary on Friday after final signature from the governor. So far we’ve only seen one bill vetoed. That was the fund for safe drinking water from Southern NM. Overall, the session was a little chaotic. There were bills that didn’t get through, but there were some significant wins as well!

    • Direct Healthcare: Decriminalizing abortion, end-of-life options act, new surtax on healthcare areas that’s being used to fund additional assistance for low-income people to get plans on the healthcare exchange. Paid sick leave for everyone in NM. Primary Care council, public health task force - want to make sure that those have representation from rural NM. Elimination of co-pays for behavioral health services - going to see your doctor will not be paid by you. 

    • Rural issues were front and center. The rural opportunity task force will be of interest to see who’s on it and what issues they take up. Rural equity ombudsman should make sure that all issues are addressed. Special education ombudsman should cover complaints about services provided to special education. Those issues have not been addressed during the pandemic and that’s been a major issue. Broadband division in the state government should put money into development.

    • Healthy Food Financing should put more money on the table to make it easier for people to get locally grown food through all programs in NM. There was also one that HANM was involved in to look into the pollution. We’ll be sending out information to let you know how to get involved

It’s a big victory to see that funding for dental services did not get cut.

There was some fears that Medicaid wouldn’t get fully funded, but it came through. We’re at a dicey point in the pandemic. We’re getting people vaccinated, but we want to make sure that we have immunity by the time that the new variants come in. So far it looks like the vaccines will protect against some of the new variants, but we should still be cautious. Representatives from Southern NM were influential in getting things passed.

We’ve been working on how to get actions from these meetings. We’ll be bringing back a couple of documents. We’re working on analyzing that survey and sending out results electronically. Keeping those ideas in mind, we’ll be sharing the vision statements and emerging collaborations to let people know what collaborations are coming to rural communities. That should be coming out by the end of the month. 

Rural Voices for COVID Recovery

Las Colonias 3/16 Echo

Spoke to Gallegos and Cervantes. What I’ve been hearing is that Doña Ana and Las Cruces Counties have been sending letters to MLG to get more vaccines in our area. There has been talk about more super sites opening up in Las Cruces and other areas. CVS and Walgreens are starting to get people vaccinated. There is talk about getting more small distribution sites. There was talk that people were upset about the lack of vaccines, have people calmed down? People have gotten more access to the vaccines. The VA has written letters to some counties. In Anthony proper, there is some concern that the distance to drive has been restrictive to getting vaccinated. It would be better to have many super sites in the rural communities. How are you hearing about the hesitancy that people have around the vaccine? Lots of people here in Anthony say that they will refuse to take the vaccines as they become available. Hearing this from the working class. They are afraid that if they get sick, they won’t have money coming into their household. The people that do have reactions typically have underlying conditions. 

There has been a major effort to get local people ready to give and receive the vaccine. The more that we can get from local communities, the more effective those efforts will be.

The big thing from folks that I talk to is that they wish there were more vaccines allotted to the people who live near Texas. There’s a lot of traffic that occurs between rural NM and Texas.

There is a big group of children who are coming back to school that won’t be vaccinated. The school should be providing vaccinations before people go back to school. They’ve just started testing for children, so we don’t have good data on how those vaccines affect children. What about the teachers? There are a lot of teachers who don’t want to start teaching yet because vaccinating them has not been a priority.

There have been lots of efforts to make sure that schools are clean. It’s been a double-edged sword - those students in special education need to get back. They’re not learning as much as they can. School is their safe place. Glad that our superintendent is considering the parents’ opinion, but some of those kids need to get back.

There is a concern from parents about “what if their kids get sick?” but it’s been good to get them back on the whole. There was an outbreak on a school bus in Chaparral, but that’s the only one that I’ve heard about.

Rural Voices for COVID Recovery

Las Colonias 2/2 Echo

We hope you all are staying safe and keeping active! There’s a lot of reason now to be hopeful about returning to normal, but there’s still work to be done!

At today’s meeting, we learned more about the upcoming return to in-person schooling in the Gadsden school district. With the coming changes, it is important to note that parents will have a choice whether they’d like their children to attend school in-person or online. We should learn more from the school board meeting on Thursday (2/4), but here’s what we know so far. In the coming week (2/8), half of the teachers should be going back to school twice a week with Wednesdays set aside for sanitization. The following week (2/15), instructional and office assistants will be returning, and the rest of the staff will be returning the week after (2/22). We also heard from the school bus supervisor in Anthony, NM, who assured us that the school board is making careful considerations and good plans for how to return to in-person instruction. There have been many concerns about student engagement during online schooling, so we’re hopeful that coming back will reinvigorate our youth! As with all major changes, it’s important that we keep each other in our thoughts - everyone’s been challenged by this pandemic, so patience and empathy will be key in making sure that our children are able to go back to school with as little stress as possible!

We also heard from community members about registering for the vaccine. The Department of Health has set up to coordinate a rollout of the vaccine, but there are concerns that this site is not user-friendly for older New Mexicans who are of the highest priority for vaccination. We need better accessibility for these systems. There is also concern that we aren’t getting as many vaccines as were promised; we at Health Action NM are keeping an eye on this. You can keep up to date with what we’re hearing by checking out the news page.

At our next meeting, we’ll be further discussing a return to in-person schooling and vaccine rollout, as well as other ways that we can help make sure that Southern and rural New Mexico are at the table during this and future legislative sessions.

Rural Voices for COVID Recovery

Las Colonias 1/5 Echo

Seeing lots of problems now in Chaparral with people who are working parents - kids are being left with grandparents who aren’t tech savvy, and attendance has been going down as a result. Gadsden school district has been getting better at distributing food Mondays through Fridays.

Children are having trouble in school because of technology - internet access isn’t universal and the wifi hotspots aren’t always the most reliable. People have trouble making bill payments. There are some teachers who have been falling asleep in class. Businesses have been hurting, we’re helping them fill out applications. Lots of business grants have been denied to people in smaller counties because they’re only available to Las Cruces residents. Also having issues with teachers leaving class for appointments.

It’s been tough for students who have graduated during this pandemic - that pathway from graduation to the workforce is tenuous right now. We have to do something because the department of education is mandating that we open schools. Looking at neighboring states - they’re opening up, so what can we learn from them?

Church has moved to virtual services. Elder community has been suffering from depression at this time - they want to go out and have fun in their community.

Rural Voices for COVID Recovery

Happy New Year from Health Action NM!


Dear Health Action New Mexico Supporters,

Our HANM Board and Team extends our best wishes for a peaceful and safe New Year’s holiday.

We have all passed through a rare moment of history as the pandemic has swept through our communities and impacted our lives in unimagined ways.   While some express a desire for a return to “normal”, normal will never be for those who have suffered devastating loss and major changes to their lives.  Due to the pandemic, we can no longer deny that “normal” was filled with major inequities including access to health care and health, was molded by deeply embedded racism, and among other things, left us in the lurch with a hollowed-out public health system.  Our task is to not return to the old normal, but to instead, craft a new reality that addresses in bold ways the serious challenges and social justice issues that the pandemic laid bare. Our systems and institutions must be fundamentally reconstructed.

Health Action New Mexico (HANM) has spent 25 years advocating for system changes built on patient rights and the access of all New Mexicans to the basic right of affordable, accountable health care. In the 2020 Session, we worked on issues of affordable health coverage including the popular Medicaid Buy-In and consumer relief efforts from of the high costs of medications.

Currently HANM is working in 5 advocacy areas. In selecting our issues, we draw on the policy solutions and innovation from across the country, while learning realities from grassroots communities in NM and crafting our own NM responses for change.

1)     We are excited to join other states in taking head-on the structural issue of unaffordable prescription drug prices.  The ONLY part of health care that has no regulation is the setting of drug prices by manufacturers.  As a result, escalating drug prices are a main driver of increasing healthcare costs and making necessary medications out of reach of many people.   A HANM commissioned poll on prescription drug affordability this fall by GBAO Polling found 44% of New Mexicans reporting not filling a prescription or missing medications due to costs. This is double the national rate. HANM and other key partners such AARP have formed a NM Consumers for Affordable Prescriptions Coalition and will introduce legislation to set up a Prescription Drug Affordability Board as MD and MN have already done and 14 states are reviewing legislation to do so.  Read more about it at the Coalition website: Or better yet consider becoming a member and have your organization or business do so as well.  

PDAB Patient Story:

Meet Mr. Val Anaya:

  • Lives in Socorro NM
  • Husband, and father of two
  • Member of Government Abilities Planning Council, on the El Camino Real Housing Authority, Emergency Housing for Socorro County, Valencia County, Torrance County, and Taos County, Elevate the Spectrum

"My wife works at New Mexico Tech, she does conference coordinating work for the different facilities there at New Mexico Tech, and we’re covered under New Mexico Tech’s program of Insurance. So she pays close to $800 a month for a family of four, and even with that, there were times that my insulin bill was $400 a month...Healthcare is always an issue — it’s enough when you’re in good health, but if you have any kind of condition, you know, even with insurance, copays end up being quite high, and prescriptions are quite high, so, it’s rough."

2)     Half of the uninsured in NM are Medicaid or BeWell Exchange eligible for low cost or no cost health coverage but are unaware of their eligibility or, for various reasons, have not investigated the possibility. HANM has been working with the Tax and Revenue Department and other stakeholders to set up an Easy Enrollment system. Starting in 2022, uninsured tax filers will be notified of their eligibility for coverage and will link them up with coverage, in come cases by simply checking a box.  Enabling legislation for Easy Enrollment will be in this session and your support is appreciated. Learn more at

3)     HANM is working on a small but important project: Rural Voices for Covid Recovery. We have convened six small rural collaboratives to identify regional gaps in Covid relief, develop and support local solutions and work for new community realities as Covid recovery begins.  It is not only essential that NM rural communities be at the table but that we the public and decisionmakers hear and learn from their resilience.  You can learn from some of their conversations at our blog:

4)     HANM chairs the NM Dental Therapy Coalition which continues to monitor and contribute comments to the rule making process of the 2019 dental therapy licensing legislation and work to ensure implementation of legislation in NM.   We also work as an ally to the tribes and Southwest Indian Polytechnic Institute in setting up dental therapy programs in Indian Country. We are past a time when affordable dental care is not integral to overall healthcare.

5)     HANM is committed to public education of the public health issues of oil and gas pollution in our state.  We held a recent webinar on public health and climate change, are a member of the NM Methane Coalition and testify on health issues and pollution. 


HANM is a privately funded non-profit.  Our legislative work is not covered by private foundations and only your contributions allow us to do this advocacy as well as other work not covered by philanthropy.  We are a small organization taking on the biggest issues preventing access to healthcare for New Mexicans.  Please make a vital contribution so we can sustain and grow our work.  You can give by credit card at or by mailing a check to HANM, 3700 Osuna Rd NE, Ste 504, ABQ, NM 87109.


Thank you for your generosity and continued support!


Barbara Webber

Executive Director



Health Action

Las Cruces 12/9 Echo

Today’s meeting was a chance to get updates on COVID response from members of the community in Las Cruces.

    The biggest challenges that we identified were the issues of mental health and access to broadband. As more people have come to rely on the internet this year, the lack of access has hit even harder. The mental health system was also strained before the pandemic, but has become even more so now; asylum seekers have to go through a two-week quarantine before they qualify for services, which has put a greater burden on the infrastructure. Community members are working with local groups to make sure that there are options for socialization; Kids Can is helping children become entrepreneurs and making sure that children are able to become effective advocates for social change.

    The New Mexico Aging and Long Term Services Department is also working on a project to make sure that those in long-term care facilities and nursing homes are able to get holiday cards! In Doña Ana County, the sheriff’s department is assisting with letter collection and delivery. If you are interested, you can drop off letters in person, or send them to Ferrales-Narvaez at Doña Ana County Sheriff’s Office, 845 N. Motel Blvd., Las Cruces, New Mexico 88007.

    For our next meeting, we’ll be discussing how to recover after the pandemic; rural communities like Las Cruces haven’t gotten a seat at the table in the past, and it’s more important than ever to make sure that solutions for recovery help all New Mexicans. Let’s think about what recovery looks like beyond reopening!

Rural Voices for COVID Recovery

Las Colonias 12/8 Echo

At today’s meeting, we received an update on the challenges and general infrastructure for the Colonias.

    One of the primary challenges that we identified in this meeting was the difficulty in keeping up with education. There are lots of warning signs for depression and other mental health issues that are becoming more apparent at this point in the pandemic. At the beginning of the pandemic, we would see an average of 60 children per class, but now we’re lucky to see 10. To help deal with burnout, teachers and parents are working to make the material as engaging as possible; one of the teachers we spoke with took their students on a virtual field trip to a museum, parents and grandparents are trying to get kids active and thinking outside of their classes. Despite these efforts, children are still getting tired of learning online. Faculty are receiving training to recognize signs of depression in their students, but teachers are stretched thin and many are retiring.

    Schools are also dealing with the issue of hunger. Since some schools have moved to remote instruction, people are searching for new solutions to make sure that students have food. The Gadsden school district is looking into delivery options, but it’s tough to do that without coming into contact with students and their families. For now, they’re offering EBT cards to those who can’t get to school to pick up lunches.

Rural Voices for COVID Recovery