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Statewide Listening Tour - Rio Rancho - Sandoval Regional Medical Center and UNM West

Throughout my statewide listening tour, I have visited with an impressive array of individuals in a breadth of fields and backgrounds, all with one united goal: to improve the quality of life and sense of community throughout New Mexico. My visit to UNM’s Sandoval Regional Medical Center (SRMC) and UNM West in Rio Rancho on August 14, was no different. Along with HSC Chancellor Dr. Paul Roth, I was given a tour of SRMC by Jamie Silva-Steele, the president and CEO of the Center. Jamie walked me through the hospital’s various areas, and along the way, I had the opportunity to meet with its diverse and dedicated staff, who shared some of their concerns, challenges, and strengths. Being a community-based academic healthcare facility that is served by both local independent physicians and UNM Faculty Physicians, SRMC is a wonderful platform for local learning about healthcare, and it continues to customize its care to meet the needs of its surrounding communities. Only six years old, it houses an innovative Radiology & Women’s Imaging Department, an Emergency Department, six operating rooms, Physical and Occupational Therapy, Primary Care and Specialty Care Clinics, 60 inpatient beds, and an Intensive Care Unit.

I learned more about how the Medical Center is working hard to continue providing excellent service – aligning with the Health Science Center’s ‘Mission Excellence’ – and was shown the various ways in which all of the medical and technical staff work to organize themselves and consistently hold themselves to those values. After the tour, I was privileged to have a roundtable discussion with some of the surrounding community leaders, including Jack Torres, the Mayor of Bernalillo and Jo Anne Roake, the Mayor of Corrales. I also learned a lot about how the community works together to develop sustainable solutions for some of the more localized problems and was able to witness firsthand that harmony throughout our discussions. 

Later on, I was given a tour of UNM West by Program Manager Dr. Laura Burton, who shared information about UNM West’s student base and the services they provide. In a discussion with the faculty and staff, a common theme emerged: young adults have a tremendous interest in health science professions. UNM West is now offering nursing coursework starting this fall, and through pipeline development with CNM, will eventually offer a Medical Assistant Program to adapt to this growing local need. Some of the faculty and staff touched on the topic of the continued ‘brain drain’ happening throughout the state, and the statewide need for economic development that can sustain opportunities for our young adults. We need to work collectively to develop a more emboldening and sustainable environment for our youth to feel passionate and driven by their careers and their desires to serve their communities. 

Overall, like many of my experiences throughout this listening tour, I found such a wonderful spirit of collaboration in New Mexico, and therein lies great opportunity to further unlock our state’s potential through partnership.