The De Baca Family Practice Clinic in Fort Sumner, New Mexico will soon reach more students with a new mobile unit that will visit schools in outlying areas.
The health center is named in honor of Ezequiel De Baca, New Mexico’s second governor. It already provides school-based services in Fort Sumner’s municipal schools but will expand services to three more schools in more remote areas, said Lisa Walraven, the chief executive officer.
“We’ve got these communities around us where they don’t have any health care,” she said, noting that the nearest hospital is about 60 miles away. “We have frontier designation.” Indeed, Fort Sumner has long had a frontier feel to it, and is best known for being the town where Sheriff Pat Garret gunned down the infamous Billy the Kid. Even today, many people live out in remote ranching areas.
Some parents make long trips to Fort Sumner to get their children sports physicals, which the state requires. The mobile unit will allow De Baca to offer a wide range of services at the schools.
Expanding is part of De Baca’s constant outreach efforts. These include a community health fair every other year when the city closes off the street and residents come in for health education and free screenings.
The center also regularly promotes flu shots and blood drives. It even hosted a community back-to-school swimming party at a local pool.
Serving parents and students is a cornerstone of community outreach because it’s so effective, Walraven said. “We’ve had a float in the homecoming parade the last few years.”