Los Alamos County Libraries Present Oral History Collection On Public Health In Northern New Mexico Feb. 4

Los Alamos County Libraries present “Their Heart Is To Serve; Compassionate Conversations about Public Health in Northern New Mexico Thursday, Feb. 4 at 7 p.m. via Zoom through the following link: https://zoom.us/j/99841410756.

The program features personal and professional stories from physician’s assistants, nurse practitioners, community elders, doulas, family members coping with substance use disorder and addiction, and community health workers and activists in this oral history collection, produced by partners StoryCorps, the national storytelling non-profit, Embudo Valley Library in Dixon, Barrios Unidos in Chimayo, and the Northern Rio Grande National Heritage Area.  

“Quiere mas, juzga menos; love more, judge less” is how Gilberto Romero sums up his work in public health in Northern New Mexico over the last 30 years.  He, together with 18 other individuals, recorded their experiences describing the expansion of access to health care in rural communities of Northern New Mexico, as well as ongoing needs and failures of our health care system in serving those most vulnerable.

The interviews capture how a broad spectrum of community members work to improve public, community, and individual health, in both their personal and professional lives.  The interviews feature heartfelt, honest, and love-filled first-person accounts of coping with addiction and supporting recovery in their own families, and how innovative public health strategies have resulted in increased equity and improved health care access and public health in front line service to rural communities.  Interviewees hold out their hopes and visions for structural change in healthcare, witness what has made a difference in their communities, and describe what true community health is.

This oral history collection stems from the movie The Providers, by Laura Green and Anna Moot-Levin, which, with support from New Mexico PBS, was screened in Northern New Mexico in 2018.  Set against the backdrop of the physician shortage and opioid epidemic in rural America, The Providers follows three healthcare providers who work at El Centro Family Health, a group of federally qualified health centers that offer care to all who walk through the doors, regardless of ability to pay. As a result of this movie screening, StoryCorps, the national storytelling non-profit, recorded these health themed interviews in Dixon at Embudo Valley Library, and in Chimayo at Barrios Unidos.