COMMUNITY HEALTH CENTERS
Providing service for 30 years…
A federal initiative of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 1965 as part of the War On Poverty. Last year DHHS combined Migrant `Health Centers into Community Health Centers Administration; in addition DHHS administers Health Centers for the Homeless and Health Centers for Public Housing.
THE FIRST 10 YEARS
1976- 5 employees and 800 sq ft office space: LCDF began in Las Cruces as a Migrant Health initiative of the statewide HELP (Health Education Livelihood Program) which today continues to provide Migrant Head Start Programs here; medical services for migrant workers were provided in eastside Las Cruces. In 1978 LCDF incorporated with a community Board of Directors (federal regulation requires 51% clinic users) and began services as a COMMUNITY and MIGRANT HEALTH CENTER in San Miguel in 1979; We were designated a National Health Service Corp site hopefully insuring a flow of committed young MDs…1st 2 NHSC Docs reneged in less than a year into their practice!! CFNP Sheila Sachs has been with LCDF since those days!!
San Miguel is an agricultural area. LCDF began medical services in a rented former Co-op store that today is still run by a community group- El Concilio. Initially the clinic had partial walls that didn’t go to the ceiling…and privacy was definitely not guaranteed! ADMINISTRATION was housed at San Miguel along with medical until 1992 when we rented space on Boutz Road. Several renovations have been made over the years, but the building is still lacking; a new building in San Miguel is part of our long-range plans.
Federal regulations required that LCDF be located in a Medically Underserved Area….at that time outside of the City. Services began in Mesilla in 1980 and included a prenatal program and patient and community education (Budget $300,000)….Today Mesilla still serves over 2000 urban Las Cruces patients, some of whose families have been with us for over 20 years. LCDF has searched for permission and funding for a Las Cruces facility since 1992; that plan is now being realized–Las Cruces was included in the County designation as a Medically Underserved Population in 1994 which allowed us to proceed with the Dental Center and the Medical Center.
1982– “Health Promotion and Disease Prevention” became the Federal solution to skyrocketing healthcare costs…LCDF responded…Highpoint of the year….LCDF purchased a video cassette recorder for patient education at a cost of $400…..the cost for burglar alarm and wrought iron to protect it was $2700!!!!
Anthony, the hub of southern Dona Ana County, is a center of population growth–high birthrates and immigration–the face of the area is changing from agricultural to urban. LCDF started in a storefront in the ’80s. In 1985 it received federal Community/ Migrant Health Center funds (PHSA/Sec. 330/329) to add DENTAL services- under Dr. Juan Madrid (the definition of COMPREHENSIVE SERVICES is medical and dental). Two double wides (one for medical and one for dental) were set where the Medical/Dental Center is now. In 1987 LCDF was awarded a Community Development Block Brant (CDBG) to construct the current medical/dental facility (put in service in 1991) that we rent from the County. That facility was immediately too small and we have acquired a state loan to renovate and expand; we are at this time working with the county to purchase the existing structure and begin construction.
1983–LCDF expanded to Sunland Park part time (Alicia Tovar was at SlP until 1996). Dr. Cantrell joined the staff. LCDF successfully competed for Public Health Service Act (Section 1610-B) capital outlay funding for facility improvement in 1986. Sunland Park Medical was put into service in 1990; before that, LCDF rented a small 2-bedroom house–the only space available in a colonia (the State Licensing Inspector threatened to condemn and close this site…). Sunland Park, 3 small communities, was incorporated as a City in 1986; David Martinez was its first (youngest) Mayor–just out of college. Mr. Martinez is a former NM Legislator and has assisted us for many years; he is now Board President. 1984–Dr. Frank Crespin joined LCDF and in 1985 became Medical Director for five years (went to Public Health for 6 years) and returned in 1997.
In 1985 LCDF obtained its first COMPUTER “to increase efficiency and reduce paperwork!”
1985–Adolescent Family Life Program was born with Shirley Dundon as coordinator and Tonia Duran and Pearl Hawe (NMSU) beginning our community education efforts (60 young women that year–400 this year). Its program has expanded from prenatal education to parenting and domestic violence prevention with both young women and young men. It is starting a new chapter in September with 3 AmeriCorps Members initiating teen pregnancy prevention activities.
1986–8000 residents relied on LCDF for healthcare services. Over 100,000 patients crossed our threshold in the first 10 years and 1000 deliveries were recorded.
SUMMARY: LCDF Directors have been Albert Sanchez, Mary Bane, Harriet Brandstetter and in 2011 Suzan Martinez de Gonzales. In the 1990s we built (and rebuilt) Sunland and Anthony, renovated Mesilla and San Miguel, started services in Chaparral and Las Cruces (1999). Chaparral is a unique experience–we cooperatively used the Public Health Mobile Clinic in the school’s parking lot with a portable building and electricity donated for a year. We are now cooperatively using a facility built by the county for public health. We were donated land in Chparral and hope to begin building a facility of our own within the year.
Programmatically, the Comprehensive Child Development program began in 1989 to 1998. The innovative Promotora Program began in 1992 and remains a model throughout the state. We have 23 medical and dental providers. Sadly, AFLP continues to see increases in clients.
We have had outstanding and committed leaders during these years: Dr. Crespin and Dr. David Cenk, Dr. Toby Casci and Dr. Daniel Armistead, who have overseen tremendous facility and program growth that allow for INCREASED PATIENT ACCESS–OUR REASON FOR BEING. They have been honored by the New Mexico Department of Health and the New Mexico Primary Care Association for their dedication.
Officially the War On Poverty is no longer being waged–devolution is the political word of the day–the government is getting out of the healthcare business. We are learning to deal with new players who do not understand how COMMUNITY HEALTH CENTERS work and the people we serve.
The nation did not win the War On Poverty, but COMMUNITY HEALTH CENTERS HAVE PUT IN PLACE A STRONG INFRASTRUCTURE. LCDF is committed to that Mission.
LCDF is a member of the National Association of Community Health Centers in D.C. which keeps us updated on policy changes and is fighting for our continuance. We have been told that the past year has seen the greatest change ever in the way health care is delivered in the United States. It has been a challenge to LCDF, as you are well aware–and it is not over.
It is by all staff knowing and committing to our Mission that we will build a stronger tomorrow for all.
(Much of above info from notes from Mary Bane.) ml/8/98