Medical debt in New Mexico goes sour

Carlsbad Medical Center in Southern New Mexico is in the national news, and it isn't flattering. The New York Times reports ($) that the hospital has taken the otherwise rare step of filing 3,000 lawsuits against patients over medical debt since 2015; more than 500 of them are from August of this year alone. The article references several cases in which folks' wages were garnished and liens were placed on their homes due to the hospital's actions; and it's not like residents can just choose another hospital. The closest one outside Carlsbad is 40 minutes away in Artesia. Lovelace Regional Hospital, about an hour away in Roswell, has only filed about two dozen suits over patient debts since 2015, but driving a kid with a broken arm an extra hour isn't palatable, lawsuits or not.

Ernestine is still giving back

When beloved local singer Ernestine Romero was shot by her husband earlier this year in a murder-suicide downtown, Northern New Mexico music fans were shocked—and then moved to action. Her family has now established the Ernestine Romero Memorial Fund ($ TNM), which will provide scholarships to graduating seniors in the area and donations for local organizations that work to prevent domestic and intimate partner violence.

Nasty Casty no more

Lil' Vegas got some love from the travel section of the Los Angeles Times this weekend in the form of a feature about the Castañeda Hotel and its recent facelift (meaning, it's no longer deserving of the moniker "The Nasty Casty"). The article goes a bit into the history of Harvey Houses, too, and is a fun read as you ease back into the real world this post-holiday Tuesday.

She can now speak

In a decision that will throw a wrench into the plots of murder mysteries and crime thrillers set in New Mexico, courts here will no longer privilege spousal communication ($ TNM); meaning, wives can now be compelled to testify against their husbands (and vice versa). New Mexico Chief Justice Judith Nakamura wrote in her ruling, "… The existence of the privilege perpetuates gender imbalances and, most critically, may even be partly responsible for sheltering and occluding marital violence that disproportionately affects women in entirely unacceptable ways."

Potty talk

OK, so this news item is from Albuquerque's City Council race, but it concerns public toilets and includes the word "pooping" so it's worth telling you about. Albuquerque council hopefuls are sparring over the choice of one candidate, Isaac Benton, to spend $20,000 of his district's money on a portable toilet ("intended for installation in an area where public pooping is problematic"). Benton says local small business owners were in favor of the idea, though it's still unclear whether the toilet will be placed at the public library or in Old Town.

Coffee shop owner killed

Patrick Larkin, the 63-year-old owner of the World Cup Café in Taos, was found dead last week, and Taos police now have a "person of interest" in the case. In a small town, it's easy for rumors to fly, so cops are taking whispers with a grain of salt; though anyone with information regarding the case is still asked to call the state police at 505-753-2277.

Getting to the bottom

Multiple versions of events are coming out in the case of the recent triple homicide at a house party in Hobbs. Some witnesses say that 19-year-old Bishop Henderson shot first; others at the party say he never had a gun; others still say that he did shoot, but it was in self-defense. No matter what happened, the small community is still shaken.


Thanks for reading! The Word had a lovely holiday weekend of camping, a wee day trip, and eating so much sushi she nearly fell into a coma.