Ensuring a healthy community

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By Kirsten Laskey

Health care is going through some major changes nation-wide and the effort to create a positive impact on health care services travels all the way to the local level. Several Los Alamos nonprofit organizations recently received a helping hand from the Con Alma Health Foundation to continue their health care related efforts.

Casa Mesita, Family Strengths Network, Los Alamos Family Council, Los Alamos First Born Program, Los Alamos Juvenile Justice Advisory Board, Los Alamos Visiting Nurses and Self Help, Inc each received grant money through the Northern New Mexico Health Grant Group, a joint initiative of Con Alma Health Foundation and the Los Alamos Medical Center Auxiliary. Other grantees included Cancer Services of New Mexico and HELP-New Mexico, which both offer services in Los Alamos.

Additionally, the Los Alamos National Laboratory Foundation earned a $15,000 multi-year grant from the Con Alma Health Foundation.

The Con Alma Health Foundation and the Northern New Mexico Grant Group awarded a total of $525,000 to 32 nonprofits.

In a press release, Dolores E. Roybal, executive director of Con Alma Health Foundation, said, “We are proud to support and partner with these organizations to transform New Mexico communities and remove barriers to good health.”

For the Los Alamos Family Council, the  $20,000 grant it received allowed the organization to provide transitional psychiatric services for clients who need a psychiatrist in an emergency situation. The grant, which is for one year, greatly benefited the Family Council program because as of Nov. 1 the council was not able to afford psychiatric services.

“We were very concerned about having to give up psychiatric services … so it was very thrilling to get this grant from Northern New Mexico Health Grant Group,” said Los Alamos Family Council Executive Direct Joy Beery.

She added the council has received grants from the grant group in the past but this particular grant is unique because the Family Council has always been able to afford psychiatric services.

“This is really stepping into a special need,” Beery said.

“We’re very fortunate to be considered each year by the Northern New Mexico Health Grant Group,” she added.

In this current time of economic hardship, the grant money becomes especially helpful. For the Los Alamos First Born Program, the $20,000 grant allows the program to continue to provide home visiting services for pregnant or first-time parents, Kristine Coblentz, program manager of the program, said.

Additionally, the grant money will help get a new program, which is a home visitor facilitated discussion group for first time parents, started. Coblentz said this program will be started in January and will be held at Family Strengths Network.

“We’re thrilled,” she said. “They’ve been great supporters of our program.”

This is the third grant that the First Born program has received from the Northern New Mexico Health Grant Group.

The $13,000 that the Juvenile Justice Advisory Board received will go toward the Youth Preventative Health Care Initiative.

The initiative, Debra Gill, JJAB coordinator explained, will conduct a comprehensive assessment of JJAB funded programs that address alcohol, substance abuse, suicide, teen pregnancy and chronic diseases related to poor nutrition.

Additionally, Gill said JJAB will continue to provide additional mental health and substance abuse counseling sessions for youth.

In regards to receiving this grant, Gill said, “It’s wonderful because (the comprehensive assessment) is going to be a science based process to help us improve the programs we offer.”

Ellen Morris Bond, executive director of Self Help Inc., said the $20,000 grant it received will be used to support immigrant advocacy and health initiatives. She explained the grant will help Self Help increase access to health care services for immigrants as well as giving them the opportunity to receive life-saving services such as oxygen, hospice related medication, antibiotics and other items that tend to be expensive. The grant also helps the organization provide aid for emergency room visits, doctor bills, lab tests, etc. and give health care access to children who do not have a pediatrician.

“We’ve been associated with this group since the sale of the Los Alamos Medical Center,” Morris Bond said. “It’s been a really gratifying relationship because the Con Alma Foundation has thoroughly researched health care issues, and its really on the cutting edge of providing health care for New Mexico.”

The funds for the different Northern Mexico Health Grant Group came from the sale of the Los Alamos Medical Center, which went from a nonprofit to a for-profit, Morris Bond explained.

Some funds from the sale were given to the Con Alma Foundation for charitable purposes and for nonprofits that deal with health care issues in New Mexico.

According to the press release, the mission of the Con Alma Foundation is to be aware of and respond to the health rights and needs of New Mexico.