In a continuation of the Grant County Community Health Council meeting of June 17, members heard several reports and updates.
Karen Morant and Susie Trujillo of the Disabilities Advisory Council presented a report on its activities.
Morant said the council is looking at issues from families, schools and agencies. "We advise the Health Council, the town of Silver City and county representatives."
She showed a cross-disability card that had a lot of input from those impacted by disabilities. "This was one of our initiatives," Morant said. "We are also working on a resource directory of local, regional, state and national resources. We just got word that Silver City has secured a building for a disability resource center. It is an empty building now, where we will have computers, couches, games and mats as a resource. It's exciting. We get different perspectives from different people. We want to learn about the gaps that need to be filled. As a family member of someone with disabilities, I am very excited and want to say thanks to the city."
Health Council member Evangeline Zamora of LifeQuest said the group would hopefully get some resources from grant funding. "I have heard from some providers that there were some gaps. This center will provide services."
Trujillo said the efforts of the advisory council would not be possible without the Health Council.
Health Council Chairwoman Priscilla Lucero asked the advisory group to put together a list of things needed for the center.
Health Council member Terry Anderson said she once ran the school-age program at Western New Mexico University, and "when we closed the school programs, we still have a lot of materials that are stored. We would like you to use them."
Council member Alex Brown, who is also Silver City town manager, said it could be an intergovernmental transfer. Anderson said there were tables, chairs, desks and materials stored.
Health Council member Mary Stoecker said last month Undersheriff Kevin Flamm represented the Disabilities Advisory Council at a public transit board meeting. "The board meetings are held at 10 a.m., the third Wednesday of each month, in the Grant County Administration Center. Make sure the date has not changed."
Trujillo said transportation has been an issue for some with disabilities.
Health Council member Brian Bentley, Gila Regional Medical Center chief executive officer, asked where the building was locatied for the resource center.
Brown said it was one of the classrooms at Altamirano Park. "We will have to move it, and we don't have the exact location yet."
David Boyd, representing the Gila National Forest, presented an update on the Silver Fire. He said it began on June 7, when it was spotted by a fire lookout and a plane flew over it to see it. "Two teams worked on it and had it contained that day. Then a burning log rolled down and started spreading the fire. We had two crews of hotshots, which are 40 people, but there was not a safe place to hike in, so we went to the air. Saturday (the second day of the fire), we dropped 70,000 gallons of retardant and 40,000 gallons of water. A DC-10 carries 11,000 gallons. These measures slowed the fire's advance. By Sunday morning, it was very active, so we called in a Type II incident team."
Boyd said the country where the Silver Fire is located is very steep and rugged, and it was hard to find places to be safe and successful in holding the fire. The teams have been able to keep it out of Kingston and it is now burning into the Gila Wilderness. He explained that the Type II teams brought in its own resources.
He also pointed out to the Health Council members that the maps he presented showed only the perimeters of the fire and that it was not burning everywhere inside the boundaries. "In Kingston, we improved the perimeter and the fire line."
Health Council member and Western New Mexico University President Joseph Shepard said the university is doing research on last year's Whitewater-Baldy Fire. "I hiked from the Catwalk to the Gila Cliff Dwellings," he said. "The areas burned will be burned and black the first year, but the next year, some green will start showing up."
Boyd said the Silver Fire has burned in a mosaic, with some green areas remaining.
Lucero asked how long New Mexico 152 would be closed. Boyd said the slopes are not stable, but the Forest Service is working with the Department of Transportation to open the road, as soon as it is safe.
Health Council member Tony Trujillo complimented the Forest Service for its communications and keeping everyone informed.
Health Council member Chris DeBolt reported about 150 people had showed up at the meeting in the Mimbres, and she thanked the Forest Service for holding the meeting.
"Our heartfelt thanks for what they've done for the community," Lucero echoed.
Razana Thomas, Youth Partnership for Success II coordinator, said she had hired an intern student in nursing from Western. "We are assessing and studying youth substance abuse in ages from 12 years to 20 years and prescription drub abuse in ages from 12 to 25. We have about 20 people in the coalition." She reported the focus groups would be held the next week – June 19-22.
Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities Coordinator A.J. Sandoval said the group had completed its first series of Fit Families in the Mining District. "Six families and 20 people were impacted. The effort was funded by the Freeport McMoRan Community Investment Fund. The next series on nutrition and activities will take place in Silver City at Hidalgo Medical Services one night a week. The incentives to attend include food."
He said he and Health Council Assistant Coordinator Kendra Milligan had completed a gleaning project to find fruit trees in the community where fruit could be gleaned. "We are applying for a grant to plant fruit trees where there aren't any. This is the final year of our grant, and other groups like ours are fighting frantically to find funding."
Sandoval said the family-friendly check-out lane at the Food Baskets had been well received, and the group is hoping to expand it to the Snappy Marts. "We are also hoping for Albertson's and Walmart."
Sandoval reported many children had never seen a carrot come out of the ground, "when we took them to the farm in town. We are writing grants to continue our programs."
Health Council Coordinator Tiffany Knauf said 20 groups have used the data from last year's Assessment Survey to apply for more than $500,000 in grants.
"We are revamping the website," Knauf reported. "The state has funded each Health Council with $5,000. The state wanted each council to do assessments, but I said to the Department of Health that it was not possible to do assessments with that amount." She said she has helped LifeQuest apply for grants. "We are still doing the community calendar. We are strict on the format, but contact us, if you want something to be sent out on the calendar, which is on our Facebook page." She introduced the new DOH system of results-based accountability. The Health Council has also entered into an agreement with Grant County to review applications for county discretionary funds. Sept. 21 will feature the Red Hot Children's Fiesta, with the theme of Out of This World. She reported 12 booths have already been requested.
Connie Hostetler of Senior LifeCycle said the group is excited by the upcoming Profile. She said she attended the dedication of the land for the proposed Bridge Community continuum of care from assisted living to hospice. A film, How To Die in Oregon was to be shown June 21.
The Membership Committee had planned a draft agenda for the June 26 Health Council retreat, where the members were to choose priorities and sub-categories under those priorities.
July 19 is the deadline for Community Enhancement Fund applications for allocations for training sessions locally.
During sector reports, Stoecker, representing public health, gave an update on the 5210 program, which suggests daily five fruits and vegetables, no more than two hours leisure screen time, one hour exercise and zero sugary drinks.
DeBolt, representing the rural sector, said 175 families in the Mimbres received commodities.
Bentley, representing hospitals, explained that for the past 12 years, the sole community provider fund provided care for indigent patients. "The state determined the formula was wrong. So we have sustained a monthly loss of about $1.5 million, as well as money in the budget to spend. Gila Regional Medical Center was supposed to get $12.5 million, but we will get about $4 million. We have had retroactive cuts. We were told in May how much we would get, but we have gotten nothing. We're healthy financially, but we have to pay reparations. Next year, we stand to get $11 million to $12 million less. We are trying to determine how to moderate the damage. We're about three quarters of the way to figuring out the cuts, and have about $3.5 million to go. We have plans to cut $2.5 million. Yes, people have been hurt, but our cash flow is almost stable. It is a huge hit for rural hospitals. We have been conservative and have more reserves than many small hospitals. At the end of the next fiscal year, we hope to break even. We will still look at streamlining operations. It's been tough at the hospital, with a lot of finger-pointing. We knew it was happening, but didn't know how much until May 20, when we could talk about it. It will take some years to rebuild our credit rating. We can do some small projects that we will self-fund. The next cuts in the SCP will start the same day as Centennial Care starts and when the Affordable Care Act will cover everyone."
Lucero reported that the Colonias Infrastructure Fund had awarded nearly $5 million to the four-county area of Grant, Luna, Hidalgo and Catron, with Grant County receiving $1.8 million. The Community Development Block Grants awarded $400,000 to Hurley for road improvements. "I was asked to put together an application for a broadband pilot project for the region. I received so much help from Western and GRMC."
The next Health Council meeting will take place at 3 p.m. Monday, Sept. 16, at the Grant County Administration Center.