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MEDICAL CARE IN RURAL NEW MEXICO

Rural health care gaps complicate pregnancies for New Mexico women

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Rural care gap complicates pregnancies
Rural care gap complicates pregnancies

Desiree Castillo, pictured with her daughter, died last month while traveling home to Las Vegas, N.M., after a prenatal appointment in Santa Fe. Courtesy photo

LAS VEGAS, N.M. — The notice came with only six days’ warning. Alta Vista Regional Hospital, the only primary care facility within 65 miles of this northeastern New Mexico town, was closing its obstetrics division, effective March 7. For women like Desiree Castillo, who was pregnant with her second child, that meant scrambling to find a new doctor more than an hour away in Santa Fe or Raton for prenatal care and birthing.

Later that month, Castillo and her husband, Carlos Castillo, drove the 65 miles from Las Vegas for her first ultrasound in Santa Fe. “She called me around 11 all excited, saying, ‘It’s a boy, it’s a boy!” said her mother, Julie LouAnn Valdez.

As Desiree was driving home that afternoon on Interstate 25 east of Pecos, her husband ill and asleep in the passenger seat, a powerful wind gust knocked their sport utility vehicle out of control. The vehicle rolled, killing Desiree and her unborn son, whom she had already named Ezra Augustine Castillo. Her husband survived.

Rural care gap complicates pregnancies

Connie Trujillo, owner of Alumbra Women’s Health and Maternity Care in Las Vegas, fills in paperwork after seeing a pregnant patient on Wednesday. Since Alta Vista Regional Hospital closed its obstetrics division last month, Alumbra is losing out on the revenue necessary to keep its doors open. “It worries me about the future of this practice. Luis Sánchez Saturno/The New Mexican

Rural care gap complicates pregnancies

Las Vegas, N.M., resident Megan Baca, 20, who is 26 weeks pregnant with her second child, sits Wednesday at Alumbra Women’s Health and Maternity Care in Las Vegas. Luis Sánchez Saturno/The New Mexican



State has taken steps to fill health care gaps

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