Pro Musica performers fill El Paso hospital wards with the joy of live music

EL PASO, Texas – When classical musicians perform in local hospitals, both the players and the patients find it to be good medicine. “It’s about being a healer, because the music is designed to soothe and heal and when you see that there is a change in the status of their health,” said Felipa Solis, Executive Director of El Paso Pro Musica. Performers with Pro Musica are going beyond the concert hall to bring classical music to the people, which UTEP masters cellos performance major Amy Miller said helps her as a musician to build a connection her audience. “I think that playing for people is very important because, you know, you’re in a practice room for hours at a time and you’re playing for yourself but when you have that time to share with someone else and connect with them in that way,” she said “You know, music is an unspoken language, it’s universal.” Solis said that playing music for hospital patients is an extension of the groups’ mission to make classical music accessible to all.

Con sus narices rojas ‘a la orden,’ Doctores de la Risa ofrecen apoyo a niños y ancianos de Juarez

En Cd. Juárez Chihuahua, el grupo de “Doctores de la Risa Nariz a la Orden” se caracteriza por brindar sonrisas y ratos agradables a personas vulnerables como niños y ancianos. El encargado del grupo Fernando Guijarro, 43, conocido como el Dr. Maromas, quien dice que encontró el grupo por casualidad, lleva más de ocho años formando parte de esta labor y al mismo tiempo ejerciendo la profesión de contaduría. “Cuando uno no está buscando algo y se lo encuentra pues piensa uno que es algo divino. Yo encontré este grupo después de pasar por muchos momentos difíciles de inseguridad aquí en Cd.

Diabetes and subsequent weight gain make healthy living a daily challenge

By Isabel Garcia

Leticia Rodriguez – a 66-year-old Segundo Barrio resident – has lost vision in her left eye due to diabetes and says she struggles with everyday living because she is obese. Rodriguez has trouble getting into cars, can’t see her feet and her caregiver performs most of her day-to-day tasks for her because she’s suffering from diabetes and obesity. “My diabetes was part of losing my vision and then it went from there to not being able to lose weight,” Rodriguez said. “You go into all these diets and they work for a little bit, but you get it right back.”

Rodriguez has found support at Centro de Salud Familiar La Fe. Rodriguez is one of the 300,000 patients who use the services at La Fe.

This ranch combines yoga and horsemanship in healing therapy

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.

Texas researchers monitor spread of ‘kissing bug’ disease

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.

Visually impaired pedal to adventure in Juarez spinning group

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.

Bone marrow donor program seeks Hispanics to help save lives of Hispanics

“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.”

Homeless conference focuses on strategies for regional collaborations

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.

3 great El Paso outdoor fitness spots to inspire your new year workout resolutions

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.

Engineering Professor Roger V. Gonzalez graduated from UTEP. (Velia Quiroz/

UTEP professor recognized for international work providing affordable prosthetic limbs to amputees

EL PASO – Roger V. Gonzalez has been to every continent except Antarctica in the last 30 years. He has traveled through almost 30 countries and 48 states of the union. Although he has seen most of the world and experienced many cultures, he says he’s been most affected by encounters with hundreds of men, women, and children with missing limbs because of poor health or accidents that have led to amputations. “It’s really hard to see those who are disabled,” said Gonzalez, 50, a UTEP engineering professor who recently was nominated as Global Humanitarian Engineer of the year. He is also the founder of LIMBS International, a nonprofit founded about 10 years ago that offers affordable prosthetic solutions to amputees around the world.

This year's Senior Games have over 300 participants that will compete in over 15 events. (Luis Barrio/

El Paso’s senior athletes still compete to win after all these years

EL PASO – On a recent March morning, 76-year-old Armando Uranga sat on the gymnasium bleachers dripping sweat and catching his breath. He had just played a strenuous 20-minute game of basketball with three other competitors as part of this year’s El Paso Senior Games. After playing in the games for the last 12 years, Uranga considers them his fountain of youth. “I felt like I was in my backyard like when I was a kid, it was so much fun,” said Uranga, who has already competed in the 5K walk, the 3K walk and plans to participate in Saturday’s track and field event at Montwood High School. In its 31st year, the El Paso Senior Games are a beacon drawing residents to get out and be physically active or go watch the community’s senior athletes compete.  With a variety of events, the games are for persons 50 years of age and older who participate in activities ranging from swimming to cycling, basketball to track and field.

A giant white bronco head marks the entrance into the Bronco Swap Meet. (Amanda Duran/

Medications from Mexico are easily obtainable without a prescription at a local swap meet

EL PASO – The aroma of fresh churros, the clamor of vendors and blaring radio stations and tables of bric-a-brac are the usual stuff of a border city flea market. But between the bootleg DVD’s and fake designer handbags at the Bronco Swap Meet here customers unable to afford drug-store prices can also find cheap prescription drugs brought from Mexico. Vivian, who asked Borderzine not use her surname, is a single mother of four who has used the Bronco Swap Meet at 8408 Alameda Avenue for years to fulfill some of her family’s medicinal needs. After a close friend told her about the availability of prescription antibiotics at Bronco, Vivian said she found that she could buy medicines at a reasonable cost at that relatively convenient location. “I have insurance from my work,” said Vivian, “but even with it, medical expenses are extreme and would significantly cut into my tight budget.”

Vivian said that at first she was very hesitant about purchasing antibiotics at the swap meet, let alone use them, but, when one of her daughters became painfully ill and she found herself in financial difficulty, she relented.

My pain just gets worse as the U.S. Supreme Court deliberates the fate of the health-care law

EL PASO – When the pain from my wisdom teeth became unbearable my mother took me to the dentist who he told me I had to see a surgeon to get an extraction. I went to the consultation expecting a quick solution to my agony, but to my surprise, I am still suffering from this pain because I don’t have dental insurance or the money to cover the $20,000 bill. Health care is a necessity in order to function in this society. That is why the Universal Health Care Reform law now waiting for a pass or fail grade from the U.S. Supreme Court is such an important part of President Obama’s legislative agenda. My personal situation is a good example of the need for this law.

There are not enough bicycle lanes throughout the city. (©iStockphoto/imagedepotpro)

Bicycling is good for El Pasoans, but El Paso ignores bicycles

EL PASO – The winds whistled by swiftly as I held a tight grip on the handlebars on bumpy pavement pocked with potholes and loose gravel. Suddenly, I was startled by a truck passing me too closely and lost my balance, falling off the bicycle. The truck didn’t bother to stop. I was fortunate enough to not get seriously injured, but other cyclists have not been as lucky. Just a few days ago, a 54-year-old man riding his bicycle east on Pebble Hills Blvd.

Guadalupe Vargas, 62, a diabetes patient, lives her life in bed. (Idalí Cruz/

More than a million border residents suffer from diabetes

Lea esta historia en español

CIUDAD JUÁREZ – After 20 years with diabetes, she lives her life in bed, watching her favorite soap operas on T.V., occasionally talking to her husband or asking for something she needs. After suffering kidney failure four years ago Guadalupe Vargas, 62, needs peritoneal dialysis every four hours to clean her nonfunctioning kidneys. “My life is not the same anymore. I can’t do anything. Diabetes also affected my eyesight.

Zumba instructors and UTEP mascot, Paydirt Pete, entice people into healthy exercising. (Cassandra Morrill/

Health care information finds a new venue at the local zoo

EL PASO – A different species of animal invaded the El Paso Zoo recently as some 20 community health agencies gathered there with the wildlife to focus the need human beings have for healthy living habits. The El Paso Zoo and the Woman’s Health Initiative (WHI) program at the University of Texas at El Paso came together on Saturday the 26th of February to broadcast a message about diabetes, HIV, and ways to improve health in a fun way. The zoo was filled with UTEP students in bright orange school colors and members of the community. “You can have fun and be healthy at the same time,” Arely Hernandez, member of the WHI, said. She added these types of events allow UTEP students to get their family and friends involved as well.

Richard Talbot, director of product line management at IBM Power Systems, explains the possibilities offered by computers systems like Watson for healthcare serivces. (Sofia Aguirre/

Everything is elementary for this Watson, but he’s not human

EL PASO — Imagine confiding in your computer the way you would to a friend – no mouse, keyboard, or screen – and listening to it respond instantly with accurate, reliable information. Sounds intriguing, doesn’t it? But would you trust this computer with your health? Imagine putting a computer in an environment with minimal healthcare resources and no Internet connection, Richard Talbot, director of product line management at IBM Power Systems told students at the University of Texas at El Paso recently. “To think Watson could help a nurse diagnose an illness and guide them through a treatment or procedure,” he said.

Paisano Valley Water Project In El Paso. (William Blackburn/

Bi-national projects lead to health benefits for border residents

EL PASO — The bi-national project Border 2012 aims to improve the environment of the border region and the health of nearly 12 million people through a partnership between the United States and México. The goals of Border 2012 are to reduce water contamination, reduce air pollution, reduce land contamination, improve environmental health, and emergency preparedness and response. Paving miles of highways in Sonora, México using asphalt pavement will reduce particulate matter in the air that leads to respiratory diseases. Protecting and preserving the U.S.-México border region by identifying, developing, implementing and overseeing these environmental infrastructure projects is the job of the Border Environment Cooperation Commission (BECC) headquartered in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico. Since 2005 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has authorized the BECC to manage $7.4 million for 144 Border 2012 projects.

Tackling the pounds—Changes in state policy fight student obesity

EL PASO — Not too many years ago, students eagerly awaited the bell that signals lunchtime, anticipating french fries, a can of Pepsi, and a chocolate chip cookie. Now, however, those same students have been challenged to abandon some of the junk foods they crave. In 2007, revisions were made to the Texas Public School Nutrition Policy to create a weapon to battle obesity in children. Texas public high schools have had to start abiding by laws that mandate healthier lunch foods, as well as changing vending machine products on their campuses. “Our snack bars are all run by the district cafeterias and have to abide by the changes in the law,” says Dr. Carla Gonzales, Chapin High School Principal.

Diabetes affects thousands in El Paso, but the Diabetes Association is on their side

EL PASO — Health is an issue people push aside until it finally becomes an issue and the main health issue in this border city is diabetes. El Paso has long been considered one of the unhealthiest cities in the entire country, ranking as high as number one in obesity by Men’s Fitness magazine in 2009. Diabetes is at the forefront of chronic ailments here and obesity is one of many risk factors for this disease. Ethnicity also plays a role. Hispanics, Native Americans, African Americans, Pacific Islanders and Asian Americans are at higher risk.

El Paso’s Planned Parenthoods shuts its doors after 72 years

EL PASO, Texas – After providing services for 72 years, El Paso’s Planned Parenthoods has shut down virtually over night due to lack of funding. Locally, Planned Parenthood (PP) first opened its doors in 1937, with founder, Margaret Sanger, making a visit to El Paso to deliver an opening speech.  From its start in 1921, with its original name, American Birth Control League, PP has provided vital healthcare information to men, women, and young people all over the world. It has been a place for affordable HIV/AIDS testing as well as a trusted source of prenatal and postnatal information and healthcare.  For the last 90 years “PP has promoted a commonsense approach to women’s health and well-being, based on respect for each individual’s right to make informed, independent decisions about health, sex, and family planning,” according to the Planned Parenthood website. El Paso is a community deeply rooted in the Catholic Faith. Between 2000 and 2006 16,263 women between 15 and 19 gave birth, according to the County Health Rankings.

Chemistry Research Reveals Possible Cancer Treatment

EL PASO, Texas — Love of chemistry goaded Dr. George McLendon to move from investigations in quantum biology to research in cancer therapy. After receiving his B.S. (magna cum laude) from The University of Texas at El Paso in 1972 and a Ph.D. from Texas A&M in 1976, McLendon taught at Princeton University and the University of Rochester where he became an expert on a protein called Cytochrome C.

Addressing the students and faculty of the College of Science at UTEP this March, McLendon said, “Life has a funny way about teaching you things.” He explained that before he became the Dean of the Trinity College of Arts and Sciences at Duke University in 2004, he was just a chemist interested in researching and learning more about the Cytochrome C protein. Through his fundamental research in tandem with Dr. Chi-Huey Wong at Tetralogic Pharmaceuticals, a biotechnology company that works on cancer diagnostics and therapeutics, McLendon discovered how the Cytochrome C protein affects apoptosis (program cell death) in cases where not enough infected cells die off–as in cancer. McLendon explained that in his research, he is mainly concerned with finding out the therapeutic ratio–the amount of cancer cells that die to normal cells that die in the cell binding process. He said, “By understanding the underlying biology, we’re able to get a much better therapeutic ratio than anyone one else has been able to get to.”

Focused on curing lymphomas in humans, Dr. McLendon’s experiments have shown that the binding of Cytochrome C with the other appropriate protein cells has worked to cure every type of cancer in his controlled studies with lab mice.

The Invisible Tragedy of Homelessness

EL PASO, Texas — Homelessness has been an ongoing problem for many years in the United States, and many only see what’s on the surface, a person usually begging for spare change. The unseen reality is that in the United States about 3 million people are homeless and the recession will leave about 1.5 million more people without a roof over their heads over the next two years, according to The National Alliance to End Homelessness. The stereotype of a homeless person is someone who is too lazy to get a job or is a drug addict. Although there are people who choose to be on the streets and there are those with a serious dependency problem, about 41 percent of those who are homeless are families and about 1.5 million children were homeless just last year according to the National Center of Family Homelessness. “The homeless are as diverse as the rest of the population,” said Dr. Randall Amster, professor of Peace Studies at Prescott College and executive director of the Peace and Studies Association.

“Nuestra Casa” inaugural exhibit recreates living conditions of tubercular poor on the border

Moya said Schumann visited El Paso, Ciudad Juarez and other parts of Chihuahua this summer to collect ideas for the project, a 23 by 33-foot house made of plywood panels and a roof made of tires. The structure is meant to capture the sense of isolation and desperation poor people face, especially when they also must contend with being sick from tuberculosis.

Curanderismo in the modern world

Dr. Jose Rivera, director of the Pharmacy program at the University of Texas at El Paso says more research is needed to find out why El Pasoans use noticeably higher amounts of herbs for medicinal purposes as compared to only about 18 per cent of the U.S. population.


No longer the woman she once was, an aged shell, wrinkled by time sits in the center of a plaid loveseat. Her skin, fragile and thin, pours from a hospital gown in gentle, flaking cascades while she watches her afternoon telenovela. Entangled in her hands, a thin clear hose connects her to a machine that pumps oxygen into her nostrils…

Keeping the elderly safe

EL PASO — An elderly Hispanic woman slowly crosses a busy street. Taking fragile steps, she finally is able to cross the street so oncoming cars can pass through. Confused and scared she flags down one of the cars and asks for assistance. The woman only speaks Spanish and the driver only speaks English. The driver finally grasps one word “police.”

Some elderly persons affected with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia tend to wonder away from homes or retirement facilities.  To improve safety for these people, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) developed a new vigilance system in Texas called the Texas Silver Alert.