Santa Fe’s burgeoning health care sector gets another addition with the opening of Railyard Urgent Care on Jan. 5.

The 2,700-square-foot facility is owned by Drs. Victor Sherman and Troy Watson and has nine exam rooms as well as X-ray and on-site labs. It will be open 7 days a week from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The doctors say the clinic, 831 S. St. Francis Dr., will fill a need for those who don’t need emergency care at the hospital, but still want quality walk-in care. The office is also promising an interactive website for patients to enter medical information and then view real-time estimated wait times at

The clinic will open with eight full-time and five part-time employees and may hire four additional staffers depending on patient load, according to information released by the medical group.

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The new urgent care was one of several medical facilities under construction last year that boosted the construction sector, which has seen 16 straight months of expansion. Christus St. Vincent is finishing a new Southside Health Center just off Interstate 25 by the Super Wal-Mart and Presbyterian Healthcare Services is expected to finish its first Santa Fe clinic in March on St. Michael’s Drive.

The coming year will see more development, including a major renovation at the main Christus St. Vincent Medical Center as well as several new senior and assisted-living facilities proposed inside the city and the unincorporated area.

As the population ages, it’s no secret that the health care industry will continue to be one of the fastest growing in New Mexico and elsewhere. An analysis by the State Department of Workforce Solutions on online job postings indicated that there were 10,759 openings for health care practitioners from November 2013 to 2014 — and that is twice as high as the next categories, in management or sales.

For November 2014, there were more than 5,000 job postings alone for nurse practitioners; 808 for physicians/assistants/specialists and 534 for physical therapists.

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The New York Times published an article on Dec. 26, “Some States see Budgets at Risk as Oil Price Falls,” which highlights some of the revenue pressures on oil-producing states as the price has now toppled 50 percent from the summer highs.”

“The concerns are cutting across traditional oil states like Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Alaska as well as those like North Dakota that are benefiting from the nation’s latest energy boom.

“The crunch is coming,” said Gunnar Knapp, a professor of economics and the director of the Institute of Social and Economic Research at the University of Alaska Anchorage.

Louisiana, for instance, loses $12 million to its state budget for every $1 decline in the price of oil — which is about twice the hit that New Mexico takes to its general fund.

“In Louisiana, the drop in oil prices had a hand in increasing the state’s projected 2015-16 budget shortfall to $1.4 billion and prompting cuts that eliminated 162 vacant positions in state government, reduced contracts across the state and froze expenses for items like travel and supplies at all state agencies. Another round of reductions is expected as soon as January.”

New Mexico was not mentioned in the article, largely because, as of today, the case here is not as dire — largely due to a hefty reserve for the general fund of 10 percent or $600 million. But if prices stay where they are, Gov. Susana Martinez and lawmakers might very well have to choose between a smaller reserve for Fiscal Year 2016 or cuts to state services.

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Marc Bertram of SF Brown Real Estate is among those optimistic about the housing market for 2015. In a recent email, he pointed out a big change that will help first-time home buyers.

One result of the housing meltdown and Great Recession was tighter underwriting guidelines for home buyers that took away a lot of the discretion for lenders in areas as non-salaried income — even if it happened to be from social security or a pension. Another change was the requirement for higher down payments.

All this hit new and first-time buyers, who had nothing to do with any of the causes of the meltdown, pushing them out of the housing market. This sent more families into the rental market and that has increased the demand for rental housing.

But Bertram said one change is on the way that will help new buyers from the two largest entities that buy mortgages from lenders — Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

“They are now going to purchase loans from institutions with as little as 3 percent down payments. The previous limit was 5 percent. That could be a significant boon to first time home buyers which theoretically should have a ripple effect on higher priced homes,” said Bertram.

Contact Bruce Krasnow at

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