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Grant County Health Council hears from community partners

By Mary Alice Murphy

The first item on the agenda was a call for a moment of silence for the three students—Ella Sala Meyers, Michael Mahl and Ella Jaz Kirk, and the pilot, Dr. Peter Hochla—killed in a recent small plane crash. Also honored by the moment of silence were Jane Hall, former Health Council member Ron Hall's wife; John Kavchar, Signal Peak lookout, who called in the recent Signal Fire, as well as many other fires over his 15 years of service as Gila National Forest lookout; and Nancy Kaling, former Health Council member and community advocate.

Health Council members approved new Health Council sector members: Marilyn Alcorn, senior sector; Joannie Connors, interpersonal violence sector; Brian Cunningham, hospital sector; Alicia Edwards, food security and community resiliency sector; Robert Mendoza, Cobre Schools sector; and Lon Streib, Silver Schools sector. The new members will be voted on at the next regular Grant County Commission meeting, June 26.

Members also adopted a resolution for End Hunger in New Mexico Week, July 14-18. "Grant County is one of the highest for senior hunger. Our goal is to have every county and municipality in the area approve this resolution," Priscilla Lucero, Health Council chairwoman, said.

Health Council members approved the Priority Plan, which was discussed in greater detail later in the meeting. Member Terry Anderson asked if the plan had flexibility to which Health Council Coordinator Chris DeBolt said: "Yes. There are many action steps. Some may fall off the list or be done later. After your approval it will go to the County Commission for approval."

Also approved by members was a new Steering Committee member, Cindy McClean.

DeBolt presented the fact sheets, which are compilations of data from the 2012 assessment survey, separated out by Grant County, Silver City, the Mining District as a whole, Bayard, Hurley, Santa Clara, Mimbres, Tyrone, Seniors and Veterans.

Health Council Assistant Coordinator Kendra Milligan explained that one was not done for the Cliff-Gila Valley. "We made the decision that if an area had fewer than 150 responses, a fact sheet for that area would not be created, because it would be too easy for people to figure out who said what. However, we can get the separated-out information to them upon request."

Lucero said DeBolt would present to any community's council or board. "She presented to the Freeport-McMoRan (Copper & Gold Inc.) Community Partnership Panel recently."

"We will give the specific areas jump drives with all the information on them," DeBolt said.

"If you want more specific information, the Health Council staff can do that for you, too," Lucero said.

Member Tony Trujillo asked if the data was on the website, to which the answer was affirmative—visit www.gcchc.org and for more information by email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . "Would you do interviews with anyone who wants to talk to you?" DeBolt said the staff would do everything it could to get the information out to those who want and need it.

"This data is so important," Milligan said. "Federal and state data doesn't always fit us. This is primary data. It's what the residents want."

Lucero said it could be used for so many purposes.

Anderson asked what the life expectancy of the data is, to which DeBolt said until about 2018, when another assessment survey would be done.

Next on the agenda were updates from Priority Plan partners.

The first to speak were Maria Elena Jauriqui and Stephanie Unger of the Community Partnership for Children, which is helping with the priority of family resiliency.

"We promote excellence in care for young children," Jaurequi said. "Our three working goals are universal health screening for children, so all kids get the screening and make sure their records go with them. Second is to increase awareness of and participation in parenting classes. We also want to shift community understanding of child development to help parents understand what their children are saying, so they can figure out how to help them."

Member Mary Stoecker asked if the partnership was working with First Born, to which the answer was yes.

"We're thrilled to be one of the Health Council priorities," Connie Hostetler of the Senior Life Cycle said. "We will have Marilyn Alcorn on the council, too. I have Senior Resource Directories, which I will hand out. Gila Regional Medical Center is also using us as an advisory group. We're working on discharge planning, so older patients are prepared for going home."

She cited the Senior Life Cycle's goals as to continue working on the "lost" senior services and to re-identify them or identify potential services to bring back or initiate.

The second is to continue to provide the successful classes for caregivers.

Anderson asked if the classes were well attended, to which Hostetler replied: "More than we could take care of, professionals and family members."

No representative of the Continuum of Care Coalition was able to attend.

Karen Morant of the Disabilities Advisory Council said the group began by working on a resource directory, and are in the second cut for getting it published. "We also have awareness issues. We have a card we can hand out, with contact information. And our big news is that we have a Disability Resource Center, thanks to the town of Silver City. We can bring people in for help. We have a lending library, which will move from the Health Council office to our new center. We have classroom space for parents to get together, and we want to set up new parents with mentors to help them adjust and make them aware of resources."

She said Western New Mexico University was working on a lending library of assistive devices for the disabled. ARC of New Mexico is also working with the council on setting up a self-help advocacy center.

"Thanks to the Community Enhancement Fund, we have held autism training workshops for educators, professionals and parents," Morant said. "We want to bring in a training once a quarter."

She said the new center is a large doublewide mobile home parked at the Recreation Center, with power being strung to it. "We got a donation of fencing to keep in the yard the children who might wander. People want to donate furnishings and equipment. We're blessed."

Damie Nelson reported on CARES, which she explained is the acronym for Community Advocates for Respect, Equality and Safety. "We are excited to be working with the Health Council. Bullying is found not just in schools, but also in homes, work places, everywhere. We are trying to fill the gap in awareness and prevention. We meet on the third Thursday every month at 3:30 at The Commons. We are working for a bullying referral project."

Lucero said, because the late Nancy Kaling had been part of the group, it was an appropriate time to announce the memorial for Kaling, which will take place at 1 p.m., Saturday, June 21, at Terrazas Funeral Chapel.

Milligan gave a report from the Domestic Violence Sexual Assault Task Force. "We've been meeting for two decades. We are working on a resource guide for first responders to give to victims. We are working on papers to put in all Grant County public bathrooms, giving the warning signs of domestic violence. Court Watch will work on domestic violence and make sure court processes are being followed. We meet the first Thursday from noon-1:30 p.m. at El Refugio shelter."

She said the warning sign flyers were being paid for through funding from the Freeport Community Investment Fund.

Razanna Robinson-Thomas, Youth Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition coordinator, showed the card with 101 Things for Youth to do in Grant County that was handed out to all sixth through 12th graders at the end of school. "I'm ecstatic so many are participating. I thank the superintendents of the schools for helping us distribute them."

She reminded those present of the Town Hall to take place from 6-7:30 p.m. Thursday, June 19, at the WNMU Global Resource Center. "We hope to have an open, honest dialogue between the panel and the community. We want to leave with 10 strategies, and we want to raise the level of awareness." She said a small dinner would be served before the event.

Mary Stoecker reported on the Fitness and Nutrition Community Coalition, of which she has been a part for many years. "We have three prongs—the school prong, the clinical prong and the community prong. We are specifically looking at Type II diabetes, which used to be called Adult Onset Diabetes, but is being seen, along with hypertension, in many youths. We meet the fourth Thursday of the month from 3:30-5 p.m. at the Health Council building. Our focus is on the 5210 program, which promotes five fruits and vegetables a day, no more than two hours of leisure screen time a day, at least one hour of physical activity per day and zero sweetened drinks."

She said the program is promoted at the four school-based clinics. FANC has also produced prescription trails booklets and two clinics are committed to using them. "FANC is a partner with Jump Into Summer. This year was the sixth annual. Hidalgo Medical Services is the primary organizer of the event. We had around a thousand participants this year. All the booths were interactive, and we are having more and more partners participate."

DeBolt, for her coordinator's report, said, in reference to the Jump Into Summer event, "I'll never forget the child who won the bike. She was so excited. She was beaming."

"How much I am enjoying working with all of you and all the partners," DeBolt said. "I met with every one of you council members. There were common threads—asking what we were going to do next after the survey; how to get to the results; and for the fall, I am asking every sector to take time to give a sector report and let you talk to each other. The value and connections you have are tremendous. We have a clear plan for the priorities.

"The priority plan will be with the partners working on the action steps going forward," DeBolt said. "I'm so proud of you. This is such a huge body of work to accomplish. We realized that a lot of people were already doing this kind of work, so using the model of life cycles and Health Council sectors, we put this plan together with community partners and it worked. Life cycles or community action teams or whatever you want to call them are working with us. We bravely called the groups in and most of them said yes to working together. What we will proceed to do is create memoranda of understanding with the groups for accountability. We can give a small stipend to each group. We want you to put your Health Council efforts to where you are passionate."

She also asked for RSVPs for the member luncheon and to nominate the member of the year—someone who did something outstanding in his or her sector.

In her media sector report, this writer announced the demise of the Silver City Daily Press and its resurrection the next day.

Anderson made a sector plea for funding for the keynote speaker for the Challenging Child Conference held each year for educators, families, social workers and counselors. "It is run through the WNMU Counseling Center."

Bonnie Zelinko of the workforce sector said Workforce Connections has a student intern for the first time. "This was her first week. We are trying to keep up with her energy."

Armando Amado of the veterans sector said the veterans, especially with the problems in the Veterans Administration system, continue to work and fight for services for the veterans locally. "Basically, we were told not to attend the Town Council meetings anymore because we were taking up too much time. We four counties are pushing again for services. We are trying to get fee-based services locally and to get the hospital and clinics to be vet friendly for the services veterans need. One problem is that the VA doesn't pay on time. Sometimes it pays six months after the services are rendered. For an eye checkup, a World War II veteran had to go to Alamogordo, because we have no services for vets here. We need to have people at the veterans' clinic here to help families know what the vets are going through. We need counselors to talk to vets, along with fee-based services. We need Congress to push to get the VA to pay on time."

Bob Reese of the Ministerial Alliance said many churches in the area were holding vacation Bible schools to provide more contact between children and adults of various ages. "We also have mission trips, for students to learn values and the needs of those who may be a bit different. First Presbyterian Church is honoring local heroes, starting with the EMTs and firefighters, at 10:30 a.m. June 29. We encourage people to do things outside of their comfort zone."

Kathleen Hunt of the mental health sector said her husband has PTSD and they have had experience dealing with the VA system. "I would like to see training for local providers. With the physical pain my husband and other vets have, it's cruel to treat veterans the way they are treated by the VA."

Lucero said metropolitan areas get the services. "We have to advocate for services in rural areas like ours. That's why the Health Council is so important."

Reese said bills are heading through the House and the Senate to allow those veterans living more than 40 miles from a VA Center to get local vouchers for services.

Lucero announced the Colonias Infrastructure Fund gave out about $3.5 million to local governments in Grant County. "I thought the fund was going to sunset, but it seems it will continue." See http://www.grantcountybeat.com/index.php/news/news-articles/16354-grant-county-receives for more details of who received how much.

She also said the Southwest New Mexico Council of Governments partnered with the Rio Grant Community to receive $152,000 to establish food manufacturing in rural areas.

Maurine Laney of the judicial sector said she is promoting the youth advisory program, which is looking for projects for youths who are in the Juvenile Probation and Parole Office programs. "They especially want projects where kids can develop work skills."

She said she has yet to get confirmation from the schools that they will require by policy that every student involved in sports and other activities take the online course, Life of an Athlete, and receive the confirmation of completion of the course before participating in sports or other activities. "The program pushes the importance of prevention," Laney said. "We need to get the schools to commit to it before school starts again in the fall."

Anderson suggested Laney speak to the school boards by getting on their agendas.

Lucero said a letter from the Health Council might also be appropriate.

Laney said the schools are using it as a punitive measure, "but it's designed to be preventative. Albuquerque schools require a physical and a Life of an Athlete Certificate, ideally once a year. I don't want to let another year slip by without the program being required."

Stoecker said in her experience, presenting a draft policy to the school boards gets more immediate action. "Limit it to athletes and activity participants and make it part of the school's substance abuse policy. Those trained in the program can facilitate getting it into policy.

Trujillo said DeBolt presented to the Freeport Community Partnership Panel and did an excellent job. "Freeport's operations here in Grant County are doing very well. We have 1,600 direct employees, which does not count contractors."

"It is incumbent upon us to congratulate all the candidate who got through the primary," Trujillo said. "I congratulate them for taking on the challenges. Also the legislative interim committees are starting to travel around the state. The big issue—water— will be addressed at the Interim Natural Resources Committee meeting here. Silver City is the target of several committees. We need to try to get on their agendas."

The meeting was adjourned just before 5 p.m.

The next Health Council meeting will take place at 3 p.m. Monday, September 15.

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