Medical student writes community resource guide

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Michael Apostol, right, a medical student at the University of New Mexico at Roswell, and Joann Palomino, a health promotion educator with the New Mexico Department of Health, show copies of the community health resource guide local Apostol compiled as part of his studies. (Photo by Juno Ogle)

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A new resource guide aims to help the Roswell medical community better help patients.

“Roswell Health: A Compilation of Community Health Resources” is a project by Michael Apostol, a sophomore medical student in the University of New Mexico School of Medicine.

Apostol moved to Roswell at the age of 2 when he and his parents immigrated from the Philippines.

“I sort of wanted to be a doctor for a long time just because both of my parents were nurses from the Philippines. Looking at my mom and how she helped people grow up really made me want to go into the medical field, ”he said.

He was a class valedictorian at Goddard High School and a National Merit Scholar, and graduated summa cum laude from UNM before entering medical school as part of the combined BA / MD program at the ‘A M.

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Over the summer he was back in Roswell for six weeks of clinical placements, but he also had to complete a community project as part of the hands-on immersion experience that is part of his studies.

“The community project can be anything, but it’s basically meant to be an initiative that you can start in the community while you’re there,” he said.

Apostol met with staff from the New Mexico Department of Health’s Southeast region office in Roswell – director Jimmy Masters and health promotion educator Joann Palomino. Thanks to them, he learned about the various services offered by the Ministry of Health.

“He told me about all of these different things that are going on at Roswell that don’t seem like a lot of the health care community and people in general don’t know about,” Apostol said.

“When they think of the Department of Health, they think of your annual flu shot, your vaccinations, that’s all we know. But they have all kinds of resources like chronic disease, addiction, and mental health that would be really helpful for a lot of people in the community, ”he said.

Apostol began to compile information about these resources to put together in a booklet. During the day, he did his clinical internship with Dr. Gabriele Stiller. After working hours and on his days off, he worked on the resource guide.

“It took me about six weeks to get here to finish it,” he said.

“People from DOH like Ms. Palomino have been a great help as they have their own initiatives and resources that they already have on file, but I have also had to call many community members and leaders like Chaves County Health Council which was a big help, ”he said.

The health department printed 150 copies of the 20 pages – front and back – that Apostol compiled, and it assembled and stapled each itself.

Apostol and Palomino are working with a local printer to produce more copies.

The resource guide includes information about free NMDOH programs, including workshops to help people with diabetes, cancer, chronic pain, and HIV. It also lists the meeting times and locations of Alcoholics Anonymous and other recovery groups. It lists resources for suicide prevention, mental health services, faith-based services, and community services such as pantries, domestic violence shelters, and groups that help children and families.

Palomino said it was the first time that a guide like this had been set up in Roswell.

“Michael asked how to make it known that these courses and resources are there. It’s word of mouth, ”she said. She said she and Angie Barnes from the Health Department’s Children’s Medical Services visit every doctor and hospital to let them know about available classes.

She said the guide will be particularly helpful as many programs offered by NMDOH have been cut short due to the pandemic.

“But we want to reach out to our community because chronic diseases – diabetes, obesity, drug addiction – are still present. We still need to take care of it for our community, ”said Palomino.

Apostol said he discovered that not all doctors in Roswell were aware of the resources in the community, sometimes learning them from their patients who had signed up.

“So I did this first for the doctors so that they know what resources they can refer their patients to, and second, if they recognize a patient who would benefit from it, they can distribute them or if we do more. copies, they can just put them in the waiting room, ”he said.

The resource guide has already been of benefit, Apostol said.

“A doctor told me that she had an alcoholic patient who was really excited to hear that there was an AA meeting every day of the week,” he said.

The guide has even been recognized by the NMDOH in its internal communications, Palomino said.

Apostol said it hopes to make the guide an annual publication and include an email address and phone number that vendors and organizations can contact to be included in future editions.

“There are also a few people in the community who want to help,” he said. “I can already see that even though I am a medical school graduate and not stay at UNM for residency, there will be someone else to carry the torch.”

City / RISD reporter Juno Ogle can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or [email protected]


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