EL PASO, Texas — Maria Bristow sees the school bus coming and leaving hoping to see the face of her “baby boy.” But she knows her 14-year-old son DeAngelo won’t be coming home. Maria called her son Oct. 3 to let him know she would be a few minutes late returning home from a show she was attending with a friend. DeAngelo said there was no problem and hung up the phone.
Estela Casas announced Sept. 14 she had just joined a group every woman dreads. The local celebrity and KVIA-TV news anchor has breast cancer, and announced it to her viewers to call attention to the disease. Casas has been part of El Paso’s viewership for 35 years and through her long career she has become a respected and admired personality, far more than a news anchor. This is not the first time that Casas has shared news about her medical experiences and procedures with the public.
El Paso KVIA-TV weather anchor Iris Lopez, 29, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder two years ago. She was 27 and said she automatically linked “mental health illness” with “crazy.” “I would experience mood swings that were difficult for me to control at times. My moods would quickly change from extreme sadness to extreme happiness,” Lopez said. When it came to seeking help, she found that The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) was the organization that helped her the most.
As the longest war in U.S. history rages on in Afghanistan, the military continues to struggle with battling the mental wounds of combat when soldiers may be reluctant to seek help. “I have received behavioral health counseling multiple times. It has been difficult for me to admit that I had a problem, but going and accepting has helped me tremendously,” said Sgt. Jacob Holmes, a 10-year veteran who works with the Army’s 24th Press Camp Headquarters which is a unit of soldiers/journalists, currently stationed at Fort Bliss in El Paso. Holmes, who responded to interview questions by email, was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in 2012.
Finding out you’re going to be a mother is overwhelming, especially with the physical changes going on inside the body, but continuing an exercise routine allows women to benefit greatly throughout their pregnancy, local health professionals say. Most pregnant women can tailor their workouts to meet her physical needs and the health and safety of her baby. Discussing exercise plans with their doctor early on establishes what adjustments are needed to continue a normal exercise routine. For women who don’t regularly go to the gym, their level of exercise will depend on their level of pre-pregnancy fitness. “With patients with normal pregnancy, no pre-term labor, no risk of low implantation and no issue of bleeding (basically a normal pregnancy) we recommend to start exercising as soon as you’re pregnant,” said Dr. Jorge Aranda of Providence Women’s Health Partners.
Por Ana Carolina Valero Cortez, Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez
Amamantar a un hijo, para muchas es la mayor expresión de amor que una madre pueda profesar a su hijo, arrullarlo y calmar su llanto al mismo tiempo que el pequeño sacia su hambre es un derecho que prohibirlo sería lacerante para ambas partes, sin embargo, para Ixchel Villarreal, una joven madre universitaria ese derecho se vio violentado, pues la Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez (UACJ) no es una institución incluyente con los hijos de sus estudiantes. A través de un video publicado en las redes sociales, Villareal hizo público su reclamo, la activista local y egresada de la carrera de Psicología denunció un supuesto acto de discriminación dentro del Instituto de Ciencias Sociales y Administración (ICSA) por amamantar a su bebé en uno de los edificios. Después de que Villareal pidiera informes para poder ingresar a la maestría, Melquíades, de 10 meses, empezó a inquietarse, el calor sofocante de la ciudad y el hambre provocó en el pequeño malestar; un sofá dentro de un edificio con aire acondicionado parecía el lugar perfecto para amamantarlo y calmar su desosiego. Unos quejidos bastaron para que dos catedráticas de la universidad abandonaran sus cubículos para interrumpir la lactancia, argumentando que una institución educativa no es lugar para tener a un niño, que era un distractor molesto para los estudiantes y que además, no era el “espacio” correcto para amamantarlo. El video de denuncia tuvo tanto impacto que rápidamente empezaron a ventilarse acontecimientos de intolerancia tanto de maestros como de alumnos hacia las madres que por necesidad o gusto asistían con sus hijos a clases, de igual forma, surgieron comentarios reprobatorios apoyando la postura de las docentes.
Sarah Onofrey is one among millions around the world who rely on some sort of dietary supplement to lose weight and improve their overall health. “I had always used diet pills and I always felt sick, groggy, dehydrated, and dizzy,” Onofrey said recently as she waited for an Herbalife shake at a Nutrition Club in northeast El Paso. “But with (Herbalife shakes), I don’t feel like I’m going without anything. I feel a lot healthier.”
As a matter of fact, according to a 2011 study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than half of all American adults use one or more of these types of products believing it improves their health. In an age when trendy health and fitness-related terms like “#gainz” and “fit fam” are seen everywhere from bumper stickers to Instagram bios, it’s no surprise that meal replacement shakes have been in such high demand in recent years.
El Paso’s poor air quality is driving down school performance for children in neighborhoods with high rates of airborne metabolic disrupting chemicals, researchers say. In a study published in the September issue of the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, researchers at the University of Texas at El Paso and Northeastern University looked at school performance among fourth and fifth-grade public school children in El Paso. They found that children exposed to higher levels of airborne toxins had lower grade point averages,
Related: Air quality one of biggest threats on U.S., Mexico border
Study author Stephanie Clark-Reyna, a second-year doctoral student at Northeastern University who attended UTEP as an undergraduate, said she hopes the research will have an impact on how El Paso addresses its unique air quality issues. “Air quality in El Paso is concerning because of the trucking industry. Last time I looked it up, something like 800,000 trucks passed through a single port of entry in one year,” Clark-Reyna said.
In the sleepy little farm town of Canutillo, Texas – just across the river from El Paso, is the 20-acre Rio Grande Valley Ranch that boards horses, steers, ponies and even goats . The ranch is also home to a some horses that are specially trained to help people with special needs. The horses are used to connect with people who have disabilities such as social disorders, confidence issues, PTSD, fetal alchohol syndrome, Downs syndrome, autism and even young abuse victims.
Noel Cass and her friend Rita Nicolini operate KNJ Therapeutic, which helps about five people a day break through the wall built by their disabilities. Cass was trained in Phoenix and is PATH certified, which stands for Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship. She has been in the field for 10 years.
EL PASO – Lower Valley resident Daniela Caro struggles to breathe some days. “On bad days my asthma gets really bad, my throat closes up, even walking to class is a little bit hard,” she said. The 23-year-old El Pasoan lives near Riverside where trucks spew toxic fumes as they transport goods across the El Paso-Juarez border. The American Lung Association ranks El Paso’s pollution in the top 20 among U.S. metropolitan areas for both particles and ozone. Poor air quality has been linked to health issues, particularly for at-risk groups like children, older adults and anyone with respiratory problems like asthma.
EL PASO – On a recent Saturday in September hundreds of local residents attended a health fair event, sponsored by Entravision 26, at Sunland Park Mall. The annual event provided residents with health and medical information as well as free vaccines, blood pressure and hearing tests. The all-day event featured music, free food, and an opportunity for attendees to have their picture taken with well-known Entravision news reporters and anchors. A primary goal of the fair was to help residents who lack medical insurance and have limited access to health care. One of the primary speakers at the fair was Weather Anchor Aldo Acosta, 53.
Parishioners of El Paso’s Holy Trinity Church, 10000 Pheasant Rd, work together to keep their food pantry shelves stocked for families in need. Many drop off donations of needed supplies at the church and then volunteers sort and stock the donations and prepare baskets each week for families that don’t have enough to eat. UT El Paso multimedia journalism student Kayla Melson reports on the operation and how those in need of help can contact the food pantry.
EL PASO – Borderland residents are at risk of contracting diseases such as diabetes, hepatitis, tuberculosis, and West Nile Virus, but so far Chagas, transmitted by “kissing bugs” has not kissed anyone in the El Paso-Juarez region. “We have a list of more than 80 diseases that we consider dangerous at the department of public health,. On this list, we have Chagas disease,” said Fernando J. Gonzalez, lead epidemiologist for the Department of Public Health in the City of El Paso. But although Chagas has hot been seen here so far, Gonzalez said that the public health department is always on watch for cases where any new parasites or diseases are detected. Chagas disease is named after the Brazilian physician Carlos Chagas, who discovered it in 1909.
EL PASO — Doctors confirmed earlier this year that 19-year-old Alberto Guerrero had overdosed on an unknown substance that damaged his cardiac and respiratory systems.
After weeks of tests, Guerrero was told that something was attacking the muscle cells that contract his heart and lungs. He was told he had about a year to live, then given a bottle of pain killers and sent home. Three months later he died. Before his death, he confessed to his mother and a doctor that he was addicted to a drug called Spice, a synthetic marijuana that is highly addictive and may cause death. Spice became popular about five years ago among young people, including those in the military.
Many pet owners view their pets as part of their family. They do everything they can to care for them, including feeding them their favorite food or buying them a new outfit. But, things can happen in life, and pet owners can be left unable to care for their beloved pets. Former El Paso Humane Society volunteer, Josie Gonzalez, saw many pet owners who were forced to surrender their pets to the shelter because they could no longer afford to feed and care for them. Gonzalez thought of a new way to help keep pets at home with their families.
EL PASO –Twenty years ago, Maria Elena Ramos Rodriguez faced the difficult task of finding foster homes for four possibly HIV-positive babies born to mothers who were heroin addicts and were already infected with the virus. “Luisa had captivated me the first time our sight met,” said Ramos, 57, director of community projects for Programa Compañeros and a long time Juarez activist who has worked on behalf of women’s health issues on the border.. Related: Health coalitions key to helping high-risk groups, says Mexican community organizer honored by U.S.
There was little chance that Luisa, one of the babies who was a week old and had been rejected from various facilities, would find a home because of widespread fear among potential caregivers who were afraid of contracting the disease. Two decades and many tests later, Luisa is a healthy and HIV-free 20-year-old thanks to Ramos, who accepted her temporarily and eventually adopted her. “I felt so much tenderness when she looked at me for the first time with a wide-open smile.
CD JUAREZ — People with visual impairments have found they can pedal their way into a renewed enthusiasm for an active lifestyle by taking spinning classes in a redesigned gym here. They mount stationary bicycles at the the Gimnasio Adaptado Benito Juarez under the guidance of specially trained instructors who take them into an imaginary pedaling adventure, giving them the chance to exercise and enjoy the type of fun they usually can’t get on their own. En español: Bicicletas de spinning dan nueva luz a la comunidad invidente de Juárez
The gym opened in September with various instructors trained to teach sporting programs to people with disabilities. who can take free classes in activities such as karate, gol bol, basketball, and spinning. Silvia Salas and Karla Fonseca are two of the spinning instructors that have dedicated their time to lead classes for the visually impaired.
CD JUAREZ — Con mucho entusiasmo hacia la vida, un grupo de personas invidentes se dedican a tomar clases de spinning — pedaleando con bicicleta estacionaria en una pista imaginaria –en el Gimnasio Adaptado Benito Juarez en Ciudad Juárez como manera de ejercitarse y pasar un rato de diversión. Tras su apertura en el mes de septiembre, este gimnasio ha contado con la participación de varios instructores que ofrecen clases a personas con diferentes niveles de capacidad. Con disciplinas como el karate, gol bol, basketball y spinning, las personas que cuentan con alguna discapacidad pueden hacer uso de este gimnasio que, además, ofrece sus clases de manera gratuita. In English: Visually impaired pedal to adventure in Juarez spinning group
Silvia Salas y Karla Fonseca son dos de las instructoras de Spinning que han dedicado su tiempo a preparar a personas invidentes y atribuirles el gusto por la bicicleta estacionaria. “Me di cuenta que el spinning es hacer un recorrido en bicicleta con tu imaginación”, mencionó Fonseca.
A few months before Nadiezdha Dominguez was diagnosed with esophagitis, a medical condition that causes irritation or inflammation of the esophagus, she experienced first hand the stark difference in emergency room care provided in El Paso as opposed to Ciudad Juarez. She concluded that the treatment she received in a Ciudad Juarez emergency room in August was “worlds of difference” better than her experience at an El Paso medical facility in March. The 20-year-old UTEP student who lives with her mother in an area between Fabens and Clint is still paying the $1,350 bill for the hospital services and the doctor’s consultation she received at the El Paso hospital. Although she was diagnosed correctly, she could not afford to pay for her follow-up treatment in El Paso because she is uninsured and prefers to pay the “individual mandate penalty” rather than sign up for health insurance under the U.S. government’s Affordable Care Act. Instead, she crossed the Santa Fe (Paso del Norte) bridge with her mother five months ago and visited a Juarez hospital to get treated.
A program that helps El Paso restaurants modify their menus is making it a little easier for diners to make healthy choices. Seventeen restaurants have joined the Eat Well! El Paso project in partnership with the Paso Del Norte Health Foundation (PDNHF), the El Paso Department of Public Health, and The University of Texas at El Paso. The program is a part of the PDNHF’s Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) initiative that helps local restaurants put healthier choices on their menus, especially for children. “With children, healthy eating helps a lot with growth, of the brain and of the whole body” said Michael Kelly, senior program officer for HEAL, “Obesity is something that has been a problem for a long time in America, and its getting worse.
EL PASO — Whether they’re sneaking over the border to party, using fake IDs or hanging at a friend’s house, when minors drink they often go too far. “There are a lot of people who, unfortunately, they get into a driving accident. They get into a fight. They may end up pregnant. Or they may suffer academically because they were engaging in unhealthy drinking behaviors,” said Jana Renner, lead program director for Shift Positive, a new initiative aimed at curbing underage drinking in El Paso, Juarez and southern New Mexico.
EL PASO — A year after the Ebola epidemic ravaged West Africa the risk of resurgence lingers, but communities continue to make progress toward rebuilding due to brave international humanitarian efforts, including those of soldiers from El Paso. Months after the Ebola outbreak began killing thousands of people in Liberia, more than 250 soldiers from here shuttled the sick by helicopter from isolated villages to Nairobi for treatment at facilities they helped build. The soldiers, primarily from the 501st Aviation Regiment deployed last October from Fort Bliss to participate in “Operation United Assistance” in Liberia. “It was not a combat mission,” said Chief Warrant Officer Landon Dykes. “This was a different scenario, a different role for the entire task-force and our entire purpose was to help the people of Liberia combat Ebola.”
“Wait a minute, this wont hurt at all will it?” Anthony Aguilar asks while holding a registration packet for Be The Match, a project to match donors with people who need bone marrow transplants. That’s the most common question asked, says Anita Gonzales Southwest representative for Be The Match, which is operated by the National Marrow Donor Program to help match healthy bone marrow donors with patients battling illnesses like leukemia, sickle cell anemia, or other life threatening blood diseases. Gonzales explains that the registration process doesn’t require needles
“It’s the most simple and painless process really,” Gonzales says. “Its a simple saliva sample. It’s a sterile medical swab, you take it and run along the inside of you’re cheek, up and down ten times, put it in the registration envelope, and just like that the process is done.”
EL PASO — Lorena una señora de 50 años con solo cinco pies de altura pesaba casi 200 libras y empezó a padecer de enfermedades como el colesterol, triglicéridos, colitis y gastritis pero no sabia que padecía de algo aún mas serio — el tragonismo. Para reconocer ese padecimiento tuvo que unirse a un grupo que ahora ella reconoce que le salvó la vida — Tragones Anónimos. En los Estados Unidos el 35 por ciento de personas sufren de obesidad. Un número alarmante de una enfermedad que también afecta a 38 por ciento de la población hispana. En el condado de El Paso un 17 por ciento de la poblacion infantil sufre problemas de obesidad.
EL PASO — As the need for more Hispanic doctors grows in the U.S., medical organizations have realized that special programs at educational institutions are needed to prepare more Latino pre-med students to enter the profession. “The minority populations are growing, and we don’t have many minority doctors,” says Mary C.D. Wells, director of the University of Texas at El Paso Medical Professions Institute. “In the last couple of decades, the American Medical Association, the American Association of American Colleges, all of these groups that look over medical training in this country have seen that.” According to the Center for Disease Control, the number of accepted Latino medical school applicants is low because of socioeconomic issues including low levels of education, unhealthy lifestyle behaviors, discrimination and poor or dangerous neighborhood settings that influence career choices. The Medical Professions Institute (MPI) is a program that was established in 2002 to provide support for students aspiring to become professionals in the medical field and ultimately prepare for medical school.
EL PASO – The projected image of a middle-aged man prostrate on the sidewalk, wrapped in a blanket in front of a downtown shop presented a stark image of homeless hopelessness highlighted by the daybreak sun. “What really gets to me the most is that what I see a potential worker laying down in the street in front of a local business where he can’t work because he doesn’t have a home,” said Annette, one of a small group of homeless and former homeless persons who presented a series of stark photos they had taken to a recent conference here. The projected images entitled “Voices and Images of Homelessness” told a story of fear, anger, but also one of hope and joy in life. “I see people trying to survive. There is nowhere to go.
El PASO — Glutamina, carnitina, creatina y proteína son solo unos suplementos que forman parte de la vida diaria de José Sifuentes, un fisicoculturista de 35 años que pesa 185 libras y mide 5 pies-5 pulgadas. “Las pesas son muy egoístas”, dice Sifuentes al referirse a su estilo de vida, el cual ha llevado durante mas de 13 años. El originario de Durango Durango se enfrentó a varios retos para convertirse en lo que hoy es, un exitoso competidor y entrenador físico. Desde que tenia 15 anos, Sifuentes tuvo que buscar su suerte trabajando por mas de 12 horas diarias de lunes a sábado en el campo y en la construcción de túneles acuíferos de su ciudad natal. Ha tenido que enfrentarse a retos difíciles como dejar a sus padres y dos hermanos para mudarse a la frontera a la edad de 19 años para conseguir un mejor estilo de vida.
EL PASO — Yvonne Mendoza a master tax advisor usually helps clients wind their way through the tax return maze, but this year she came up with a nasty fine in her own return – a penalty charge because she did not sign up for personal health insurance. “With my refund being affected, it didn’t allow me to pay the things I needed to pay in January,” said Mendoza, a17-year veteran tax expert at H & R Block. The penalty cost her more than $400, one percent of her household income. This year’s tax return bill can cost more than expected because the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare imposes a penalty on Americans who failed to get health insurance. Mendoza said that she made the mistake of not going to the marketplace.
When I ask people around the city what is holding them back from working out, the answer often deals with not feeling comfortable in the gym environment or not wanting to pay for pricy gym memberships. I can relate. I don’t have a gym membership either. However, that is not stopping me from trying to maintain a healthy life. I have found much comfort and peace in the beautiful and free outdoor workout areas my hometown of El Paso, Texas, has to offer.