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First News Summer 2007

Community-Owned Rural Health Care

   If you live in a small New Mexico town like Roy, Wagon Mound, or Springer, and should require medical attention you're lucky! Often, communities of this size cannot support a private medical practice based on population. However, since 1972 El Centro Family Health (formerly Health Centers of Northern New Mexico) has operated clinics in twelve northern New Mexico communities. El Centro is owned by a volunteer board of directors drawn from its users, so control is local and community interests take priority.

   Supported by federal and state grants, El Centro cares for nearly 17,000 patients each year, utilizing fifteen medical and two dental clinics. Medicaid, Medicare or private insurance is always welcome, but one in every three patients has no insurance at all. For those, El Centro offers a sliding fee discount program. Last year 7,236 uninsured patients received care at El Centro with just a $15 co-pay for medical visits and a 52% discount on dental work. Lab, X-ray and pharmacy costs are extra, but El Centro helps with that, too, by discounting prescription drug prices based on a patient's income and by negotiating discounted rates from suppliers whenever possible.

   In addition, 2,100 area veterans receive treatment from El Centro based on an agreement with the Veterans Administration. Their VA benefits apply exactly as any VA Clinic. Now veterans need only travel to Albuquerque or another VA hospital for in-patient procedures or tests that cannot be performed locally. This saves veterans miles of traveling and related costs.

   El Centro has certified diabetes educators and Promotoras (community health workers) who educate diabetics to manage their disease through diet and exercise, as well as medical attention if necessary. There are people in northern New Mexico infected with hepatitis C, but don't know it. Anyone can be tested and, if they meet guidelines for the program, can start a year-long cycle of therapy that actually cures half or more patients receiving treatment for this liver disease. The program is supported by telemedicine connections with specialty care through the University of New Mexico School of Medicine. High quality medical care is an important issue in rural communities as residents strive to continue their way of life, and El Centro Family Health has made long-term commitments to keeping its system of care in place throughout northern New Mexico.

Nearby Clinics
Springer (505) 483-0280
Roy  (505) 485-2484
Wagon Mound (505) 666-2288
Las Vegas  (505) 425-6788


Newsletter photography by Michael Babnick Photography

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