The state’s top health official, Health Secretary Alfredo Vigil toured Quay County’s public health facilities in Tucumcari on Thursday.
As he visited rural health clinics across the state, Vigil said, “A big crisis is the lack of adequate health care professionals.”
He cited an upcoming conference in Albuquerque that will specifically address how to recruit and retain medical professionals in the state and in small communities.
Smaller communities have to rely on the dedication of a small group of workers, Vigil said, giving a nod to the Tucumcari staff.
Statewide, the health care system also has to figure out how to deal with and finance the care of 21 percent of the residents who are not insured, Vigil said. Because the uninsured often wait longer to seek treatment, their care is more costly.
One area that his office hopes to address through education is the high risk behavior of New Mexico’s teens, including alcohol consumption, which is on the rise among young people, Vigil said.
Emergency rooms are seeing an increase in the number of minors who are being treated for alcohol poisoning, Vigil said.
School based community health centers are not so much about treating students ailments, but about educating children about the hazards of high risk behaviors, Vigil said.
Vigil, who is from Taos, was appointed secretary in June 2007.