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Lady Stang Volleyball Rolls Over Midwestern State

September 25, 2016 Sports
It was nearly a mirror image of Friday, as the Western New Mexico University volleyball team used their strong hitting and blocking to power them to another sweep, this time a 3-0 victory over Lone Star Conference opponent Midwestern State (25-21, 25-12, 25-21) Saturday afternoon inside Drag’s Court. The Lady Mustangs (10-4, 2-1 LSC) have become a force to be reckoned with at the net, as they…

Felon receives card from SOS to register

By Mary Alice Murphy

A self-professed felon, who served 18 months, brought to the attention of the Beat a postcard he received in the mail from the New Mexico Secretary of State's office saying he "may be eligible to vote, but you do not appear to be registered."

The card stipulates that the person must be a resident of New Mexico and a U.S. citizen, and it gives them the opportunity to register online or through a paper form.

"I broke the law," "Bob" told the Beat. "I wouldn't snitch on someone."


GRMC Board of Trustees hears about mill levy, initiative and state of finances

By Mary Alice Murphy

At the Friday, Sept. 23, 2016, Gila Regional Medical Center Board of Trustees meeting, during reports and updates, Chief Executive Officer Brian Cunningham gave an update on the Healthy Hospital, Healthy Community mill levy initiative.

The first report was given by the Auxiliary President Frances Day, who thanked the hospital for the recent awards appreciation banquet for Auxiliary volunteers.

"We recognized two members—Charles Mossberg for 25 years of service and Audrey Welsh for 35 years," Day said. "Audrey is now an associate member.

"We still need volunteers," Day continued. "Two-thirds to three-quarters of our membership attended the banquet. It was a treat. We were served by Mr. Cunningham and Angela Ortiz. Amanda (Holguin) did a lot of the organization of the event." Read more...

Audio of Sept. 13 county commissioner forum

This is the audio of the Prospectors' Sept. 13, 2016 County Commission questions and answers. Listen to the more than hour-long audio and hear what they all had to say. 

Unable to embed Rapid1Pixelout audio player. Please double check that:  1)You have the latest version of Adobe Flash Player.  2)This web page does not have any fatal Javascript errors.  3)The audio-player.js file of Rapid1Pixelout has been included.

[Editor's Note: Sorry the audio of the House of Representatives candidates for districts 38 and 39 is not available, due to a malfunction (or operator error!) of the recorder on the editor's phone. The session was transcribed from a video that Silver City Radio let the Beat use for the purpose.]


OHS has students working in the community

By Margaret Hopper

Opportunity High School has placed most of its students in the community, as planned. Some have been in their learning positions up to three weeks. Friday afternoon, OHS teachers were out checking on their students at their assigned business locations. Students seemed happy to see them, and teachers said they appeared to be doing well.

OHS015Doyle Shirey, cake decorator at Food Basket’s Bakery, watches as Karina Baeza works on a decorating detail.Doyle Shirey said Karina Baeza has learned enough by now he thought she could produce and display an entire big table of her own goods. She had the interest and was working out well. Baeza went early to her job this Saturday; she put in four hours between 6:00 and 10:00 a.m., decorating cakes for the weekend. The Bakery says she works four hours a week.


Grant County Fair 2016 saw crowds on Saturday

Photos by Mary Alice Murphy

Saturday is usually a busy day at the Cliff-Gila Grant County Fair. Sept. 24, 2016 was no exception.

A tractor show went on most of the day, a junior rodeo took place in the morning, youths had their rabbits judged in the morning, and also taking place during the morning were the heifer show, the steer show, a county-bred calf show, and a judging contest.

At 1:30 p.m. the awards were handed out to youths who raised steers, heifers, pigs, lambs, poultry, and rabbits, as well as those who had produce, fine arts, needlework and other items on exhibit in the exhibit barn. Awards for showmanship, clean pens and judging contests were not announced to the winners until the awards ceremony, so the winners were surprised. Read more...

Wind Advisory 092516 6 p.m. to 092616 6 p.m.

Strong Winds For The Borderland...

.a Backdoor Cold Front Will Bring Strong Winds To The Region
Between Sunday Afternoon To Monday Evening. Sustained Winds Will
Be Between 25 To 35 Mph As The Front Moves Through The Area.
Stronger Wind Gusts Are Expected To Occur, Especially Along The
West Slopes Of Area Mountains. Wind Intensity Should Start To
Decrease On Monday Afternoon.

Southwest Desert/lower Gila River Valley-lowlands Of The Bootheel-
Uplands Of The Bootheel-southwest Desert/mimbres Basin-
Northern Dona Ana County-southern Dona Ana County/mesilla Valley-
Central Tularosa Basin-southern Tularosa Basin-
West Slopes Sacramento Mountains Below 7500 Feet-
Sacramento Mountains Above 7500 Feet-

GRMC CEO talks about Healthy Hospital, Healthy Community initiative

By Mary Alice Murphy

"We are the last county-owned hospital in the state," Gila Regional Medical Center Chief Executive Officer Brian Cunningham told the Beat. "We have a county-appointed board of trustees. We are tax exempt and all our revenue surpluses go to services."

He explained that GRMC, as a rural hospital, tries to provide as many services as it can, so residents get their care close to home, without having to travel long distances.

Some of the services that Gila Regional provides include an adult behavioral health unit; in-patient acute care; imaging, lab, cardiopulmonary services; a cancer center; an outpatient surgical center; emergency medical and ambulance services; a rehab center; GRMC fitness/wellness center; infusion services; and four primary and specialty care clinics, including a primary care family practice, a cardiology clinic, pain management and surgical services.

Recently Gila Regional Medical achieved a 4-Star Quality of Care rating by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, as one of only three hospitals in New Mexico to receive the 4-Star rating, putting them into the top 20 percent of hospitals across the country. "This is real for us. We always put quality first."

The medical center is a 68-bed acute care hospital, which serves Grant County, as well as Hidalgo, Catron and Luna counties, a service area encompassing 1,700 square miles. It has rural and frontier designations and employs 640 caregivers, making it the second largest employer in Grant county. It has an annual payroll of about $42 million and net revenue in fiscal year 2016 of $72 million.

"In 2013, the state cut funding to hospitals," Cunningham said. "That put us in the hole by $9 million at the end of the fiscal year. But by the end of fiscal year 2014, we had climbed out to a positive bottom line of $1,252 million."

A graph shows that at the end of FY 2015, the hospital had a positive bottom line of $734,000, but by the end of FY 2016, the number had dropped to a negative $3,356 million. The state-approved budget projects a $37,000 positive bottom line for FY 2017.

Cunningham said capital needs every year cost about $4 million to $5 million.

"We have zero debt, but we've been living off cash reserves to upgrade equipment," he said.

In a graph of trended state supplemental Medicaid payments, the highest amount since 2011 was in 2013, in which the hospital received $18,075 million, but with payments cut that year, receipts for 2014 were down to $4.7 million, when the new Safety Care Net Pool went into effect. 2015 saw the number jump slightly to $7.06 million, but drop again in 2016 to $4.8 million.

"For us, it's quality first and the finances follow," Cunningham said. "Days cash on hand is another fiscal health indicator. The industry average, for hospitals of a similar size in the country, is 108 days of cash. We dipped to 97 in 2013, came back up to 151 in the summer of 2014, and have bounced around since then, with, at the end of July 2016, 113 days of cash."

Cunningham said Taos County passed a mill levy when its days of cash had dropped to the teens. "As days of cash go down, we can't replace equipment. Doctors, if they don’t have the equipment they need, will leave. Their priority is to treat their patients. We already have challenges nationwide recruiting physicians and nurses. We want to avoid the downward spiral."

He noted that 14 New Mexico counties currently provide some form of tax support to their hospitals. Some counties have private hospitals and six counties have no hospitals.

The New Mexico Hospital Association estimates that $96 million in economic activity is generated by Gila Regional expenditures.

Cunningham said the Board of Trustees unanimously approved putting a 4-mill levy on the General Election ballot and the County Commission also approved the initiative. Four mills equates to $4 per $1,000 of net taxable value. Taxable value is about one-third the sales value of a property.

For example, a property that is worth on the market about $100,000 would see its taxable value at $33,000, which, if the mill levy is approved by voters, would equal 36 cents a day or $11 a month increase in property taxes for four years starting in 2017. The approved mill levy would sunset or end at the end of the four years.

The mill levy would generate about $3.3 million a year for the hospital and would be used only for capital equipment and building upgrades to the 33-year-old building.

"We will give regular detailed reports at the Board of Trustees meetings and to the County Commission," Cunningham said. "The expenditures will be transparent and easily measurable."

Without the ability to financially support some of the current basic services of GRMC, the impact to citizens would be unnecessary travel and expenses for care. Travel to Las Cruces for care, not including lost time from work, would cost a patient approximately $50 to $70 per visit, including gas and meals. A trip to Albuquerque would cost about $165, plus an optional hotel stay up to a total of $260 per visit.

He noted more and more communities are taking on the responsibility for what they care about.

"We are asking the people of Grant County to consider supporting the mill levy to keep your 4-Start Quality Patient Care close to home," Cunningham said.

Cunningham said he is willing to go over the Health Hospital, Healthy Community initiative with any individual or to give presentations to groups. Contact him at 575-538-4000 or visit grmc.org to see the presentation.

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