DOWN — Last week the San Juan Regional Medical Center announced it will close its Bloomfield clinic. There are rational and good reasons for the closure, which is scheduled for June 1. The clinic was not getting the kind of traffic it needed, which translated to a $370,000 annual operating loss. That was caused by fewer visits from existing patients and a lack of new patients. So those Bloomfield residents who are using the clinic will have to travel to Aztec, where the doctor, staff and services will be consolidated. However, there were other reasons for the closure that leave some troubling questions. The Medical Center is losing about $26 million in state funding it had received each year because of changes to programs that provide financial support for care of indigent patients and others with little or no insurance. The money was diverted because of the Affordable Care Act, which is intended to increase the number of people with insurance. However, it's not clear that the demand for indigent patient care will drop immediately. San Juan Medical Center CEO Rick Wallace said, "I believe they are taking the money away prematurely." If the demand doesn't drop it will put additional pressure on the shrinking budgets of local governments.
UP — Childhaven — a non-profit organization that cares for youths caught in bad situations that usually involve abuse or neglect — celebrated the opening of a new facility and upgrades to an existing emergency shelter. The projects were made possible by businesses, the city of Farmington and private donors that contributed time, materials and money. The agency has provided this service since 1969 and now offers housing, tutoring, meals, clothes and a safe place to live for as many as 32 children who stay an average of 90 days. This is a vital service that makes the Farmington area a more humane place to live.
DOWN — Information from official sources on the death of John Marszalek II has been hard to come by. On march 12, Marszalek repeatedly rammed a police car and was stabbing himself in the neck when a deputy U.S. Marshall shot him. Late last month, two weeks after the incident, the Farmington Police Department release a chronology that shed much needed light on the events that led up to the 26-year-old man's death. Marszalek had been acting erratically — driving recklessly through a parking lot, exposing himself and calling police to demand they stop following him. Police used "tire deflation devices" and twice used a Taser, with little effect. Based on that information, one might assume police did what they could to stop him using non-lethal methods and believed he posed a threat to the community. But its been more than a month now and we still don't know the cause of death or any other details that would put this traumatic event into context. We're not sure where the problem lies — local police are usually more responsive than the feds. But, as we have said before, city residents have a right to know what tactics were used and how they were employed. Law enforcement officials must be accountable and releasing that information allows people to understand and evaluate the procedures in place intended to protect their safety. We urge them to take this part of their job — accountability and transparency — as seriously as the rest of their responsibilities.