Holy Cross Medical Center

Holy Cross Medical Center is the central hub for health care in north-central New Mexico. Our hospital and clinics are home to over 80 physicians, covering a variety of ever-expanding specialties that include internal medicine, wound care, dermatology, ob/gyn, orthopedics, general surgery, urology and a fully-staffed emergency department.

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Holy Cross Highlight

Team Taos, an Initiative to Recruit, Retain, and Re-Hire Full-Time Nurses at Holy Cross Hospital

The United States is currently experiencing a significant shortage of registered nurses (RNs) in the healthcare sector. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for RNs is projected to grow by 7% between 2019 and 2029, which is faster than the average for all occupations. This demand is due to a variety of factors, including an aging population, an increase in chronic illnesses, and advances in medical technology that require skilled nursing care. However, the supply of RNs is not keeping up with this demand, which is leading to a shortage of nurses across the country. 

In Taos, like many rural communities, this has led to an ongoing challenge in staffing full-time, local nurses. As a result, Holy Cross Medical Center has historically been forced to hire traveling nurses to offset staffing needs. Traveling nurses have played a crucial role at hospitals throughout the state. While their service is not only necessary, but greatly appreciated, the goal of Holy Cross Medical Center’s new Team Taos initiative is to recruit as many full-time, local nurses as possible. Team Taos can be broken down into three primary goals: 

  • First, Holy Cross will be encouraging nurses that previously worked for Holy Cross Hospital or reside in the community to bring their skills to Holy Cross Hospital.
  • Second, offer current traveling nurses permanent positions.
  • Third, hire as many UNM Nursing graduates as possible and support locals who are pursuing fulfilling careers in healthcare and want to remain in Taos.

The benefits of having a permanent, mostly-local nursing staff includes familiarity with the community and patients, increased efficiency in patient care, strong relationships between our internal caregivers, and a more stable financial footing for the organization. 

Holy Cross Medical Center CEO, James Kiser said, “We fear that many in our community have felt the need to leave to find career opportunities in health care and nursing, but we are now reaching out with open arms and asking folks to take a look at the opportunities we can provide right here in Taos. We have raised the salary of our RN positions above market, and are increasing sign-on bonuses by 20%. In addition to that, my goal is to foster a work culture in which multiple generations of Taoseños feel compelled to join our organization and spend their careers with us, right here in their hometown.” 

The above-market salaries for registered nurses surpasses many other organizations in our region.

Brittany Lamendola, Chief Nursing Officer at Holy Cross said, “I joined the Holy Cross Hospital family as a nurse fifteen years ago, and I am now pleased to serve as CNO. Throughout my time at the organization, many RNs have left to explore different career paths. One of our goals with the new Team Taos initiative is to reach out to all eligible formerly employed RNs and offer them new positions at Holy Cross. We want to build upon our family of caregivers with those that have a connection with our hospital and team. In addition to this, we’re working closely with the amazing team at the UNM Taos nursing program to grow our own, and encourage our community’s youth to explore a fulfilling career in nursing, all while staying close to family and serving their community.”

CEO James Kiser continued, “I believe it’s a bright new era at Holy Cross, and the time has come for all of us to join together as a community to make sure that healthcare remains local.”

If you are interested in pursuing a career at Holy Cross Medical center, please contact Vanessa Garcia, HR Recruiter:  (575) 751-5731   |  vanessag@taoshospital.org

Or you can learn more at www.holycrossmedicalcenter.org/employment-opportunities/

Seeking Board of Trustee Applications

The Holy Cross Board of Trustees is soliciting applications from qualified persons to fill two vacant seats on the hospital board.

  • The two vacancies are for four-year terms

If you are interested in applying, please call Lenora Cisneros at 575-751-5766 or stop by the Holy Cross Hospital Administration Department to pick up an application. You may also access the application below.

Please mail your application, CV, and Conflict of Interest Disclosure Statement to:

Lenora Cisneros, Sr. Executive Assistant
1397 Weimer Rd.
Taos, NM 87571

Or send it via email to lcisneros@taoshospital.org.
Applications must be returned by the April 15, 2023 deadline.

UNM-Taos and Holy Cross Provide Great Career Opportunities for Our Community

Being raised in a rural community has many benefits, but for some teens it can feel like there are a lack of real career opportunities. With graduation looming on their horizon and the pressure to plan for their next leap, many soon-to-be graduates feel the need to leave their hometown to further their education and pursue their careers. For those who want to stay local and make a difference, UNM-Taos offers excellent career building opportunities right here at home and Holy Cross Medical Center is actively trying to hire local healthcare workers. 

In the U.S. there has been an ongoing shortage of nurses that was only worsened due to the COVID pandemic. Dawn Kittner has been working with the Nursing Program at UNM-Taos since 2009, and in mid-2021 became the director of the program. When asked about the nursing situation in New Mexico she said, “There is a nursing crisis in New Mexico, where we do not have enough nurses to care for our population. It’s been going on for a long time, and  it has been extended by the pandemic.” Holy Cross Medical Center is currently trying to hire over 30 full-time nurses to fill open positions and to reduce the number of traveling nurses that work in the hospital.

While the goal of Holy Cross is to hire individuals from the local community whenever possible, oftentimes health care staff need to be recruited from outside the state due to a limited local applicant pool. Wouldn’t it make sense to promote educational opportunities that would prepare locals for these positions? Luckily for Taos, the local branch of UNM offers an amazing educational opportunity for those seeking a career in health care.

Each fall, UNM-Taos accepts 16 applicants to the Nursing Program which offers both a four-semester associates degree, as well as the option to complete a dual-degree program and in five semesters receive a bachelors in Nursing Sciences. There are prerequisites involved and a student can get an associates degree in nursing in as little as four years and a bachelors in four and a half years. Since the program began, 100% of the students that completed the UNM-Taos Nursing Program have passed the NCLEX-RN exam and 100% of those students found employment as nurses after graduation. On top of having access to this great curriculum locally, UNM-Taos partners with Holy Cross Hospital so that students can get the necessary experience in a clinical setting. 

“Going into nursing is life changing for so many of our students. It offers a stable job and good income for their family and allows for lifelong career opportunities from hospital care, informatics, education, and business. The world of nursing is limitless.” said Dawn.

In August of 2023, there are 14 students that are likely to graduate and find jobs in our region. Many of the graduates of the UNM-Taos program are locals that choose to work for local health care providers. Holy Cross Medical Center currently employs 38 nurses that are UNM graduates. 

Ashley, Dawn, and Jessica

Jessica Gonzales was born and raised in Taos. She graduated from Taos High School  in 2010 and began working at Holy Cross Medical Center as a Certified Nursing Assistant before transitioning to a medical assistant role at Holy Cross Hospital’s Women’s Health Institute & Holy Cross Surgical Specialties. Jessica then completed a Surgical Technologist program offered in-house at Holy Cross and became a Certified Surgical Technologist. Jessica’s interest and love for the world of healthcare in her words  “blossomed profoundly” and she went on to become a certified Surgical First Assist. In 2021 Jessica was accepted into the UNM-Taos Nursing program and is expected to graduate this August. When asked about working locally Jessica responded “I feel a deep connection to my community and I have an overwhelming desire to care for the people in my hometown. I feel very fortunate to have a nursing program available where I grew up.  Working for Holy Cross and the support I have received while getting my degree has been great.“

Ashley Martinez, also born and raised in Taos, graduated from Taos Academy in 2019 and for the last 4 years has been working with the Taos Clinic for Children and Youth, which is owned and operated by Holy Cross Medical Center. Ashley also joined the nursing program in 2021. When I asked Ashley how challenging the UNM-Taos program was she responded  “I have enjoyed the last two years and it has been a really great experience. All of the instructors at UNM-Taos are really great. They spend time working with us on the material and I always feel like we can go to them for whatever we need.” 

Ashley and Jessica practicing nursing skills.

Ashley and Jessica are both shining examples of locals that were able to build rewarding careers and open professional doors without leaving Taos. Having a local hospital and a branch of UNM right here in Taos is providing excellent opportunities for locals to pursue medical careers that can help them care for locals, and also provides the education and skills to work anywhere in the world.

Holy Cross Hospital is eager to hire local health care providers. The partnership with UNM-Taos offers a unique opportunity, making it possible for locals to pursue rewarding careers as nurses right here at home. Find out about local job opportunities at Holy Cross Medical Center by visiting https://holycrossmedicalcenter.org/employment-opportunities

The deadline to apply for the Nursing Program through UNM-Taos is June 15th. The staff at UNM-Taos are happy to help you understand the opportunities, will help you navigate applications, understand your prerequisite needs, and be able to help students get a quality education at low cost. Learn more at taos.unm.edu.

$2,114,150 worth of Patient Debt is Forgiven by Holy Cross Hospital

Medical care is not always the first thing that people consider budgeting for, and emergency situations can leave uninsured individuals with unexpected expenses. Regardless of a patient’s insurance status or ability to pay, emergency treatment is offered at Holy Cross Hospital without question, 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. Holy Cross Hospital’s billing department works closely with uninsured and low-income patients to help them understand and handle these unexpected medical expenses and to help them identify financial assistance options. Along with support from the billing department, Holy Cross Hospital offers additional support programs to help be prepared for medical care as well as better understand the billing process. 

The Benefit Navigation program of Holy Cross Medical Center is available to help individuals understand health insurance enrollment options and provide application assistance. This program helped over 1,000 people access health care benefits over the last year. If you need support signing up for health insurance or have questions about the system, call the Benefit Navigation program at (575) 751-8939.

Rebecca Ciletti, our Patient Advocate

To provide added support and improve our patients’ experience, Holy Cross Medical Center developed the Patient Advocacy program in 2020. Rebecca Ciletti, our Patient Advocate, helps patients navigate their entire experience from the Emergency Room and Inpatient settings to scheduling and billing. If patients have any questions, concerns, or issues about their visit at Holy Cross Medical Center, Rebecca can be reached by calling (575) 751-5866.

At the end of the year, there are often many bills that are left unpaid, and in turn, become “bad debt” for the hospital. Bad debt is a burden that nobody wants to handle, especially not during the end-of-the-year holiday season. To aid those in need, Holy Cross Hospital partnered with local churches and faith-based organizations, to initiate a medical debt relief program. 

The Medical Debt Relief Fund is supported by community donations and the funds raised are used to pay off bad debt that remains at the end of the year. This program is more beneficial than just a dollar-to-dollar payoff of bad debt, for every $100 donated to the Medical Debt Relief Fund, $3,333 of bad debt is written off. In December of 2022 Holy Cross Hospital received financial donations that covered over $2,114,150 of bad debt and was able to clear unpaid bills for 1,362 local patients.

The donations for this fund come from community members and local faith institutions. In 2022 $63,424.53 was raised from these local supporters.The 2022 donors include:

  • B’Nai Shalom Havurah
  • Earth Journey Inc.
  • Delores Endres                      
  • Grace Fichtelberg
  • First Presbyterian Church of Taos
  • Timothy Long
  • Neem Karoli Baba Ashram                             
  • Open Heart Sangha Inc.
  • Ashley D Pond
  • El Pueblito United Methodist Church, Inc. 
  • Suzanne D Schutze
  • St. James Episcopal Church
  • Taos Mountain Sangha
  • Taos Seventh Day Adventist Church                                       
  • Taos United Community Church
  • Unitarian Congregation of Taos                                               
  • United Church of Angel Fire
  • Unity of Taos
  • Gerald Vogel

Thank you to all of the supporters, your donations have helped change the lives of individuals and families in your community. If you are interested in donating to the Medical Debt Relief fund for 2023 please reach out to LCisneros@taoshospital.org

Welcome the First Baby of 2023 at Holy Cross

Holy Cross Hospital is proud to welcome Arleen Calva Adame, the first baby of 2023 delivered by the Labor & Delivery department at Holy Cross Hospital on January 1st at 3am. Join us in congratulating Talia Adame and Gregorio Cruz on the birth of Arleen Calva Adame.

Learn more about the Labor & Delivery Department at Holy Cross >

A Look Back at Holy Cross Medical Center’s Community Programs in 2022

In 1936 the United States was in the midst of the Great Depression. It was the year after the Town of Taos was incorporated, and it was the year that Mabel Dodge Luhan donated a house to be used as Taos’ first community hospital. This original, ten-bed hospital included an operating room, obstetrics, x-ray and nursery units. For nearly twenty-five years this original location on La Posta would serve as the home of Holy Cross Hospital while it was run with the help of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth. The Hospital was a haven for the sick and injured, treating native Taoseños and newcomers alike, and combining old traditions with new and innovative treatments.

Today, the hospital is an 89,000 square-foot, not-for-profit, Critical Access Hospital located off Weimer Road, directed by a local governing board that includes both physicians and community members. More than a hospital, it is now Holy Cross Medical Center — a family of care that includes a network of clinics, providers, and programs that strive to meet the health care needs of our community. 

Holy Cross began with a donation, and in honor of the giving season we thought it would be appropriate to recognize the accomplishments of Holy Cross Medical Center’s programs in 2022. Holy Cross is home to programs that provide all of their services for free to the community.

Benefit Navigation

The Benefit Navigation program of Holy Cross Hospital is here to help the citizens of our community understand their health insurance enrollment options and provide application assistance. Theresa Noedel is the Benefit Navigation Coordinator for this program and offers services alongside her co-worker Anna Romero. The services of this program are absolutely free and the team has helped 1,087 people access health care benefits so far this year. Theresa is currently the top Enrollment Counselor in the state of New Mexico and she loves her job assisting people with education, applications, and health insurance enrollments. If you need support signing up for health insurance or have questions about the system, call Benefit Navigation at 575-751-8939. Learn more about Benefit Navigation >

Children’s Trust Fund

The Children’s Trust Fund program offers free classes and groups to support parenting. All classes are offered in English and Spanish and they collaborate with various agencies in the community to make sure families are connected to services. In 2022 the program was able to provide classes and services to over 100 families through 15 classes, 2 monthly support groups, and 4 summer pop up events that provided various fun activities for children in their neighborhood. The schedule for next year’s events is available and all classes are free. Contact Carla to register: 575-751-8904 or learn more about Children’s Trust Fund >

Taos Cancer Support Services

The Taos Cancer Support Services (TCSS) program exists to serve the needs of people with cancer in the greater Taos area, and provide non-medical support to ease the burden and promote healing. The team can connect individuals with trusted local, state, and national services to help meet basic needs, ease stress, and promote healing while also supporting tangible needs that arise due to treatments being outside of our local community. This year TCSS has been able to support 150 community members struggling with cancer and have provided over 1,000 encounters of supportive care over the year. TCSS is funded by grants, donations, and fundraising. Thanks to the generous support from our community, the team was able to raise close to $100,000 dollars from donations and grants this year. These donations support people impacted by cancer in the Taos area.  Find information at www.TaosCancerSupport.org

First Steps

The First Steps program provides free home visiting services to parents of children ages prenatal to five, including fathers, adoptive parents, and foster families in Taos, northern Rio Arriba, and western Colfax counties. Home visiting services provide parents with information, support, and access to resources in our community that promote early childhood development and a positive family foundation. In 2022 the team at First Steps provided support for approximately 190 families and provided over 1,700 home visits. There are currently seven home visitors on their team. Five of the seven home visitors are bilingual and they have been able to provide hybrid service throughout the year to meet the needs of as many families as possible. First Steps has also partnered with the Taos and Questa libraries to provide storytime for families each month. One of the goals for the upcoming year is to support dual language learning with families by providing additional books and resources. www.TaosFirstSteps.org

Taos Alive

The Taos Alive Coalition unites the community to plan and implement strategies that prevent and reduce substance use and its consequences among Taos County youth. In February of 2022 the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) awarded Taos Alive a grant for $227,088 to increase opportunities for health social connections and to deepen education around substance misuse. This year, Taos Alive was able to improve access to positive activities for youth such as sports and art for 90 kids, provided one-on-one mentorship to over 30 students, provided drug preventative presentations to over 1,500 kids in schools throughout Taos County, and trained over 200 people in Taos County on Adverse Childhood Experience (ACEs). On January 20th at 5:30pm Taos Alive is hosting a free community training by Brian Serna on resilience. The team is also planning to offer a narcan and opioid overdose response training in the spring. www.TaosAlive.org

Rural OB Access & Maternal Services (ROAMS)

The ROAMS program is funded by a grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration. The goal of this program is to improve maternal health outcomes in northeastern New Mexico. Since June of 2021, ROAMS has helped 220 mothers enroll in home telehealth programs, and since April of 2021 has helped save mothers in rural areas from traveling over 13,000 miles or the equivalent of 247 hours of driving. The three ROAMS Family Navigators have helped 173 clients gain access to free services, benefits, lactation support, telehealth, and more over the last grant year. The ROAMS lactation counselor in Taos has been able to provide free consultations for 150 new parents during the last grant year. www.roamsnm.org

Holy Cross Medical Center is honored to offer all of these free programs and services to the community.

Flu Season in Taos

Holy Cross Hospital Emergency Medical Physician Dr. Amy Martin discusses the current flu season in Taos, when it might be appropriate to seek emergency medical care, and tips on preventing illness.

Learn more at: https://holycrossmedicalcenter.org/covid-19-influenza-and-other-respiratory-illnesses/

Grateful for Our Hospital

I would like to take a moment to recognize how grateful I am for the high quality staff we have at our local hospital. It is my privilege to have recently been appointed to the Board of Directors at Holy Cross Hospital, and my time as a medical professional in the community reinforces my belief that having great health care close to home is vital to the welfare of our community.

I want to recognize the incredible work of the staff at the hospital. Over the last few weeks I have been made aware of extraordinary acts of dedication and teamwork exhibited by our staff in response to recent incidents in the community. When you live in a rural community, the time it takes to get access to care can mean the difference between life and death. Travel the western United States and look at rural communities our size, you’ll very rarely find a hospital with the quality and array of services that Holy Cross provides. While the entire organization stepped up to provide care, I wanted to highlight the work of the Emergency department, the surgical team, and two of our surgeons. It’s comforting to know that we have an Emergency department here in Taos that is capable of stabilizing critical patients, and world-class surgeons providing care right here in our small community.

Dr. Michael Darnell is part of our Surgical Services team. After a recent incident, Dr. Darnell was called in to perform emergency life-saving surgery. I’m told he went above and beyond to provide great care. Dr. Darnell was unstoppable under the pressure and he provided surgical care from Noon until 2am. That’s fourteen hours of emergency surgery under great pressure. I wish to thank him personally for being there in a time of need.

The second person I would like to recognize is a new member of our surgical team, Dr. Stephen Slikkers. Dr. Slikkers moved to Taos last month and he was quickly tested by getting an emergency call for surgery within his first days here. Even in the midst of moving with his family to Taos, he immediately jumped in as part of the team. His choice to bring his skills to Taos is a tremendous asset to our community.

Both of these examples are a testament not only to the skills of our surgeons, but the quality and teamwork of the entire Emergency department, the surgical team, and entire staff at Holy Cross. No individual on the team works in isolation and it requires the incredible skills and hard work of everyone involved to provide comprehensive care.

There is a lot of competition when it comes to hiring qualified medical professionals. Pay for medical specialists is incredibly competitive across the country and there is a growing physician, nurse, and technician shortage in America. This makes it even more impressive that these highly qualified professionals choose to provide care in Taos, and even better, make it their home.

I have provided emergency medical care in Taos for over 40 years. When I and my fellow EMT providers send or bring patients to Holy Cross, we are grateful to have such a reliable health care option in our community. We rely on our hospital. I encourage everyone in our community to support and cherish the health care available to us from Holy Cross Hospital.

– Carl Gilmore, Lower Cordillera, Taos

Carl has provided emergency health care services in Taos County for over 40 years and now serves on the board of directors for Holy Cross Medical Center. He submitted this letter as a My Turn to the Taos News the week of thanksgiving, 2022.

Monthly Video Update

In an effort to help our community understand the changes happening in health care and at the hospital, we will be posting regular updates from the administration at Holy Cross Medical Center to help share information with the public.

Board Review – September, 2022

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