This is a collaborative effort from the New Mexico Department of Health, the UNM Health Sciences Center and other local health care systems to try to alleviate overcrowding in Albuquerque's emergency rooms.
A study conducted by the Central New Mexico Community Access Program revealed that 64 percent of emergency room and urgent care patients come from three neighborhoods the south valley, southeast heights and central Albuquerque. By extending clinic hours, members of these communities are more likely to visit their primary care clinic before they go to an emergency room for care.
The study also found that acute illness is often discovered by a family member when they return home from work, long after clinics are closed.
"If people have access to primary care clinics within their neighborhood, they would be more likely to go there first," said Art Kaufman, M.D. "Our health outcomes would be better and overcrowding in emergency rooms would decrease."
The goal of the Community Access Program is to achieve 100 percent access to a primary care home and focus on preventative health care.
"Extending clinic hours is a very proactive approach to an old problem," said Dan Derksen, M.D. "We are listening to a population that has never had a voice before and meeting the needs of these communities."
The Central New Mexico Community Access Program is a joint effort by the UNM Health Sciences Center, First Choice Community Healthcare, First Nations Community Healthsource, Healthcare for the Homeless and Indian Health Services.
Contact: HSC Public Affairs, 272-3322