It has come to this editor's attention that HMS has brought in a new phone system to replace one that they will allegedly phase out later this year.

The problem, according to HMS clients, is the new number to call for appointments does not work as a local call on their landlines. The new number is considered a long-distance call from within Silver City and nearby areas, such as Tyrone, Bayard, Santa Clara, Pinos Altos or Hurley, for those patients with local/911 only phone service accounts with CenturyLink.

Several HMS patients gathered one morning waiting for the Silver City HMS Clinic to open so they could make appointments including residents from Silver City, Santa Clara, Bayard, Pinos Altos, Tyrone, and Hurley, all of whom said they couldn't call from their landlines to the new number.

Hidalgo Medical Services is a federally qualified clinic. According to , the reason for and definition of a federally qualified clinic is: "Federally funded nonprofit health centers or clinics that serve medically underserved areas and populations. Federally qualified health centers provide primary care services regardless of your ability to pay. Services are provided on a sliding scale fee based on your ability to pay."

This indicates to me that it serves the poor of our community. If they are already poor they may not have the financial wherewithal to pay for a long-distance addition to their phone service. They likely cannot afford cell phones. Their only option remains to drive to the nearest clinic or the main clinics in Silver City or Lordsburg, which may not always be nearby, thus causing them to have to pay for fuel.

On its About HMS website page at  it states: "We are HMS, here to provide comprehensive, quality medical, dental, behavioral health, and family support services as the only Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) in both Hidalgo and Grant counties, New Mexico. HMS is a nonprofit healthcare organization dedicated to providing some of the best medical care to residents of Lordsburg, Animas, Silver City, Bayard, Hurley, Santa Clara, and all extended rural New Mexico areas in Hidalgo and Grant counties. HMS offers the level of quality care you hope to find at a hospital, but in 13 community clinics located throughout southwest New Mexico. HMS is accredited by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)."

According to the  locations website, the only Mining District clinic is located in Santa Clara at 517 East Street. There used to be one in Bayard, but calling the phone number found online got only a fax tone. The only one in Bayard is at Cobre High School, not open to residents, but only students. Hurley has no clinic. Silver City has eight different locations affiliated with HMS, but that again requires driving for those in the Mining District.

Does this seem reasonable to you? Especially that a Silver City resident cannot call the appointment number from a local/911 only phone service account with CenturyLink. Why is HMS doing this to their patients?

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