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Hospital reps set to explain plans to county commission

RIO RANCHO, N.M. — The Sandoval County Commission will meet Thursday to hear presentations from area hospitals about their plans.

Commissioners will also discuss grant applications to pay for programs that reduce DWI and alcohol abuse.

Jamie Silva-Steele, interim president and CEO at University of New Mexico Sandoval Regional Medical Center, and Dr. Richard Larson, vice chancellor for research at UNM Health Sciences Center, will discuss “workforce development” at UNM SRMC.

For the last year and a half, Larson has spearheaded the efforts of a state workforce committee set up by the New Mexico Legislature.

Lawmakers charged the committee with finding ways to recruit and retain health professionals in the state.

In a report to the Legislative Health and Human Services Committee in October, Larson and the committee said the state was lacking 2,306 nurses and 219 primary care physicians.

At a meeting between county officials and health care administrators on Jan. 16, Silva-Steele said UNM SRMC had 432 employees and expected to increase that number by 50 percent over the next few years.

The state workforce committee has found the need for healthcare workers will increase as more people retire and draw on Medicare and as others access health care through the state Medicaid expansion or obtain insurance through federal or state exchanges.

Jeff McBee, administrator at Presbyterian Rust Medical Center, will also address the county commissioners. He is expected to announce details of an expansion at Rust, which will likely involve one or more buildings and the hiring of additional healthcare employees.

At the Jan. 16 county meeting, representatives from Presbyterian said Rust had 600 employees and would reach 1,000 in the next year or so.

In other matters, Peggy Cote, director of the county’s Division of Community Services, will talk with the county commissioners about a few applications the county has prepared for grants and a distribution from the state.

The first resolution before the county commission says the county wants $150,000 in grant funding from the state alcohol detoxification program.

The state is looking “for new, innovative or model programs, services or activities to prevent or reduce the incidence of domestic abuse related to DWI, alcoholism and alcohol abuse,” according to the resolution.

According to the agenda item summary, the state alcohol detoxification program is a primary funding source for individual and group counseling for DWI offenders.

The county commissioners will also consider a county application to compete for a local DWI grant from the state, in the amount of $325,545, and a request for a distribution of $444,671 from the liquor excise tax.

The agenda packet describes those two components as the majority of the county’s DWI grant funding.

The $920,000 the county wants to apply for this year represents an increase over the $875,000 requested in 2012.

At the Feb. 6 commission meeting, county officials were concerned they would lose $100,000 in DWI funding, as the Legislature was looking for about $45 million it needed to qualify for federal matching funds that would pay for hospital funding and indigent care across the state.

The New Mexico Association of Counties reported last week that the Senate was building its own state budget because of the stalemate in the House over House Bill 2, and that the counties’ jail and DWI money would be restored.

Thursday’s meeting starts at 6 p.m. in the commission chambers at the county administration building, 1500 Idalia Road NE in Bernalillo.