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

New Pediatrician Joins Taos Clinic for Children & Youth and Holy Cross Medical Center

Holy Cross Medical Center welcomes Dr. Keith Krist, a highly experienced pediatrician, to the Taos Clinic for Children and Youth. Dr. Krist will be joining the team beginning in July.

Dr. Krist brings a wealth of experience and a compassionate approach to pediatric care. He earned his Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of South Alabama College of Medicine in Mobile in 1997 and completed his pediatric residency there in 2000. In 2018, he furthered his education with a master’s degree in health administration from the University of Cincinnati in Ohio. He is board certified by the American Board of Pediatrics, ensuring his commitment to the highest standards of pediatric care.

I was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where I spent most of my formative years,” Dr. Krist shared. His journey into medicine was a fulfilling one, marked by a diverse background. “We moved around with the nuclear industry because my dad was a nuclear physicist. We lived in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and then suburban Washington, D.C. After graduating high school, I pursued a degree in finance and economics but ultimately decided to follow my childhood aspiration of becoming a physician.”

Dr. Krist’s dedication to pediatric care is evident in his approach. “I love helping ease parental anxiety,” he explains. “There’s a lot of information out there, and helping parents understand it and raise healthy children is just a blessing. I’m grateful to get to do that while practicing good medicine and helping our most vulnerable grow into self-actualized adults.”

Throughout his career, Dr. Krist has taken on various roles, including administrative work. “I was the vice-chair of the medical staff at North Mississippi Health Services  and would have become the chairperson had I stayed. I also love animal assisted therapy and have a Rhodesian Ridgeback who works with me as a therapy-assisting animal for anxious children or those who have difficulty communicating. Therapy assisted animals can greatly help reserved children open up.”

Dr. Krist’s relationship with his patients and their parents is collaborative. “I like to share information and ensure there is a consensus about how to move forward. Collaborative health is how I describe my approach.”

Beyond his professional life, Dr. Krist has a deep love for the natural beauty and community spirit of Taos.

I love working in small communities. Nothing compares to the connection you feel with your patients. Other than my job, I was drawn to Taos because of the nature, the history, the arts, and everything that makes this place unique. I’m grateful to have found it, and I think my interests and this place meld perfectly.”

In his free time, Dr. Krist enjoys hiking, skiing, photography, gardening, and playing the guitar. He recently discovered pickleball and finds joy in spending time on the trail with his dog.

Dr. Krist has also made significant contributions to pediatric care, such as chairing and implementing a successful ‘Safe Sleep’ initiative in Mississippi. This initiative focused on educating providers and patients about safe sleep habits for infants, addressing the high rate of sudden unexpected infant deaths (SUIDs) in the region.

The Taos Clinic for Children and Youth is thrilled to have Dr. Krist join their team. His extensive experience, compassionate care, and commitment to the community make him a valuable addition to Holy Cross Medical Center.

For more information about the Taos Clinic for Children and Youth, visit www.taospeds.org

Taos Clinic for Children & Youth
1393 Weimer Rd., Taos, NM 87571
(575) 758-8651

Local Program Empowers Individuals to Manage Their Diabetes

In the landscape of American healthcare, the prevalence of diabetes looms large, affecting millions of lives and presenting significant challenges to individuals and communities alike. New Mexico faces considerable challenges in this regard, as highlighted by data from the New Mexico Department of Health, indicating a steady increase in the age-adjusted prevalence of diagnosed diabetes over the past decade. This prevalence has risen from 9.6% to 11.2% from 2011 through 2020. This trend highlights the need for comprehensive diabetes management and education programs to support individuals affected by this chronic condition. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), diabetes remains a pressing public health concern, with over 38.4 million adults in the United States living with the condition. The impact of diabetes extends far beyond its initial diagnosis, often intertwining with a myriad of coexisting conditions and complications that further exacerbate its toll on individuals’ health and well-being. As we navigate the complexities of diabetes management and care, it becomes increasingly evident that holistic approaches are needed to address the multifaceted needs of those affected by this chronic condition. Holy Cross Medical Center has been taking on the challenge in our region by providing local support for those affected by diabetes. 

The Diabetes Management Team. Left to Right: Angela Torres, Jennifer Brock, Neal Friedman, LoriAnn Cortez, and Alex Troncoso.

Led by a dedicated team of care providers, the Diabetes Management and Nutrition Department at Holy Cross Medical Center is committed to empowering individuals with the knowledge and tools to manage their diabetes effectively. From education and support to personalized interventions, the department strives to improve the health and well-being of every patient it serves.

Angela Torres is the Clinical Coordinator and Department Manager, she has been leading the team since 2021. The program has been accredited since June 1, 2001 and was led by Susan Kargula until she retired. Angela graduated from Penasco High School and moved to Albuquerque where she completed her PharmD at the University of New Mexico. She later moved to New York City and completed a residency. She returned to Taos to raise her family and discovered the need for her services in Diabetes Management.

“Considering the high rates of diabetes in New Mexico, I felt the need to shift my career path and specialize in diabetes care.”

– Angela Torres

Under the careful guidance of Dr. Niel Friedman, Medical Director of the program, Angela and her team offer a diverse range of services. Alex Troncoso is a registered dietitian, Jennifer Brock is a registered nurse and Lori Ann Cortez is the administrative assistant that keeps the department running, and Kelsey Chmil works at Holy Cross Hospital as the inpatient dietitian and diabetes educator.

Torres emphasizes the compassionate approach of the Diabetes Management team, “Not only are they passionate about what they do, but they empathize to help develop the skills needed for self management. I feel so lucky to have them on my team.” 

At the core of the department’s mission is a commitment to personalized care. Through compassionate assessment of each patient’s health, family history, and lifestyle factors, the team creates tailored care plans designed to meet individual needs. Whether someone is living with pre-diabetes, gestational diabetes, type 1 diabetes, or type 2 diabetes, the department offers comprehensive support and guidance every step of the way.

One of the key services offered is nutrition counseling. Holy Cross currently has two registered dietitians offering patients personalized guidance on healthy eating habits and meal planning. Kelsey Chmil and Alex Troncos play a pivotal role in guiding patients towards healthier lifestyles. With a focus on education and empowerment, patients learn how different foods affect their blood sugar levels and how to make healthier choices for long-term wellness.

In addition to nutrition counseling, the department offers a range of interventions aimed at improving blood glucose management. From strategies to increase physical activity to the latest in medical interventions, glucose-monitoring technology and insulin pumps patients have access to a comprehensive array of resources designed to support their health journey. Additionally, the department offers inpatient education coverage for individuals newly diagnosed with type 1. 

Beyond clinical services, the department fosters community engagement through initiatives like the Dexcom Pro group class, Diabetes Type 1 support group, ADA Camp 180 for kids, and collaborations with local schools. The Dexcom Pro group is an interactive session that provides patients with valuable insights into the factors influencing blood sugar levels and fosters a sense of camaraderie among participants. By empowering patients with knowledge and self-awareness, the department seeks to promote long-term health and wellness within the community.

As Angela reflects on the department’s impact, she underscores their commitment to personalized care and community support. “We want this community, as well as the surrounding area, to know we are available to help tailor a specific plan to meet individual needs,” she shares warmly. It’s this unwavering dedication to serving the diverse needs of the community that sets Holy Cross’ Diabetes Management and Nutrition Department apart.

For those seeking guidance and support in managing diabetes and improving their nutrition, Holy Cross Medical Center’s Diabetes Management and Nutrition Department is here for the community. With a compassionate team of professionals and a comprehensive array of services, they are committed to nurturing health and wellness in our region. A referral is necessary to receive care, but Lori Ann is happy to help you understand your options. Call (575) 751-5769 or learn more at https://holycrossmedicalcenter.org/locations/holy-cross-hospital/diabetes-management/

Hospital Auxiliary Supports and Strengthens Healthcare in our Community

For decades, the Holy Cross Hospital Auxiliary has been a steadfast pillar in the local healthcare community, embodying the spirit of service and compassion. Founded on principles of altruism and community support, the Auxiliary has played a vital role in supporting the hospital’s mission to provide excellent care to the community.

Today, the Holy Cross Hospital Auxiliary members handle a variety of responsibilities. They volunteer to greet patients, staff the outpatient surgery desk, assist in the kitchen, operate the hospital Gift Shop, and create cards to celebrate each employee’s birthday. 

At the heart of the Auxiliary’s mission lies a dedication to enhancing patient care and comfort. Through fundraising initiatives and volunteer efforts, the Auxiliary has consistently worked to help ensure that the hospital meets the evolving needs of its patients and staff. Money raised in the volunteer-run Gift Shop enables the Auxiliary to help the hospital purchase equipment that can improve patient care. Over the last two years, the Auxiliary went above and beyond by donating over $45,000 to replace the floors in the hospital lobby and hallways.

“The Holy Cross Hospital Auxiliary’s generosity in replacing our floors is truly remarkable,” said James Kiser, CEO of Holy Cross Medical Center. “Their dedication to enhancing our patients’ experience and improving our facility is inspiring. We extend our sincere thanks to the Auxiliary members for making a tangible difference in our hospital and community!”

The hospital Auxiliary holds a profound conviction in the importance of community service. They understand that by supporting the hospital and its patients, they are actively contributing to the well-being of the community, embodying the spirit of giving back.

Auxiliary President Mercy Lucero reflected, “I began working at Holy Cross Hospital in 1967. I used to work in the operating room, and the Auxiliary members were incredibly helpful in various ways, allowing the medical staff to focus on patient care. As I neared the end of my career, I thought, “I want to continue this legacy, so I joined the Auxiliary to give back and support the hospital and its patients.”

Auxiliary member and Holy Cross Board of Directors Auxiliary Representative, Cristina Martinez, said “I joined the auxiliary to give back to the community. I’m retired and it’s just fun. When we are crafting or when we spend time together being of service, we call it our therapy.”

As the demands on healthcare continue to grow, the need for dedicated Auxiliary volunteers remains vital. While the current volunteers exemplify tireless dedication and selflessness, expanding their ranks would ensure even greater support for patients and staff alike. Every new volunteer brings a unique set of skills and perspectives, enriching the collective effort to enhance patient care and strengthen community connections.

Sylvia Torres has spent 20 years volunteering as an Auxiliary member. When asked what she would say to encourage others to volunteer, she replied, “Just come and join us. You’ll find different times in the day that you can work, and different roles that suit your talents. It’s a beautiful thing. And there are a lot of perks with it. For the women in the Auxiliary, the hospital gives a free mammogram once a year. We get our lunch for free in the cafeteria and we get 20% off in the gift shop. There are a lot of little perks that come with the role.”

If you are interested in learning more about the Auxiliary or volunteering, call (575) 751-5729 or stop by the Holy Cross Hospital Gift Shop.

Team of Taoseñas Lead Recruitment Efforts for Holy Cross Hospital

Holy Cross Medical Center displays not only a commitment to healthcare excellence but also a steadfast dedication to its community. At the heart of this commitment lies the Human Resources (HR) department, a dynamic team of Taoseñas led by Chief Human Resources Officer Vivian Santistevan. With a shared vision of prioritizing local talent and fostering career growth, Vivian and her team are spearheading initiatives that are reshaping the hospital’s workforce and, by extension, strengthening the Taos community.

Composed of HR Generalists Amanda Cortez-Romero, Vanessa Garcia, Anna Lucero, Susan Shivas, and, alongside the focused leadership of Vivian Santistevan, the HR department at Holy Cross is a testament to the power of hometown pride and dedication. With the exception of Susan, the entire team was born and raised in Taos County. Susan has been a Taos resident for over thirty years. Each member of the team brings a unique perspective and a deep-rooted commitment to serving their department. Together they infuse their work with a sense of purpose and belonging that is being extended to applicants and employees at Holy Cross.

Amanda Cortez-Romero, Vanessa Garcia, Vivian Santistevan, Anna Lucero, and Susan Shivas

“A good HR department sets the tone for the organization’s employees. We are the first people new employees meet and we focus on setting a positive tone for their experience as an employee.”

– Vivian Santistevan

Central to the HR department’s mission is the Team Taos campaign, launched in 2023 with a focus on hiring locals and reducing reliance on traveling nurses and doctors. Since its inception, the HR department has yielded remarkable results, with 28 full-time nurses successfully recruited, surpassing the initial goal of 25. The campaign has significantly reduced the number of traveling workers throughout the hospital, from 112 down to 32, and the number of traveling nurses has been reduced from 48 to 24. Traveling workers are critical at any hospital and their work is valued, but hiring long-term employees helps ensure greater stability and continuity of care for patients. Bolstered by Vivian’s leadership, the initiative has expanded beyond nursing to include other crucial areas of the hospital, such as dietary, registration, and clinic positions. Over the last year the Holy Cross workforce has grown from 460 to 520 employees.

“We are really engaged in recruiting local talent. They are here, you can find talent everywhere in this town, you just need to know where. Walk through the hospital and you’ll see locals in every department.” 

– Vivian Santistevan

A retired officer of the US Army, Vivian’s decision to return to Taos speaks to her dedication to serving her community. Beyond her role in HR, Vivian is expanding community outreach efforts at the hospital, recognizing the importance of honoring local heroes. Her initiative to invite all veterans in Taos County to a free lunch at the hospital on Veterans Day exemplifies her commitment to giving back and supporting those who have served their country. Moving forward, the veterans day luncheon will be an annual tradition for Holy Cross Hospital.

At the core of the HR department’s ethos is the belief that people come first, and patients always. This guiding principle informs every aspect of their work, from recruitment and retention to career development and advancement. With plans to expand the team further this year, the department remains committed to filling employment vacancies with long-term employees who have the potential to learn and grow within the organization.

“We are focused on growing our own, we are eager to help our employees advance their careers by supporting their education and professional development.”

– Vivian Santistevan

A shining example of the commitment to grow our own is HR Generalist Amanda Cortez-Romero. While still attending Taos high school, Amanda began her journey at Holy Cross Hospital as a receptionist at the age of 16. Amanda’s career trajectory is a testament to the hospital’s supportive environment and dedication to employee growth. After graduating high school, she advanced from a receptionist to registration clerk, all while pursuing her education at UNM-Taos. 

“After graduating from high school, the hospital leadership was supportive of my further education and was flexible with my time so that I could attend UNM-Taos while still working at the hospital,” said Amanda. Despite briefly leaving Taos to complete her degree, Amanda returned to Holy Cross Hospital, where she was eventually promoted to HR Generalist in 2023. Her story resonates with the hospital’s goal of hiring local talent and fostering career advancement within the community. “We work really well as a team,” said Amanda. “I love working with them all and Vivian is a supportive mentor.”

Holy Cross Medical Center welcomes all skilled and qualified individuals to apply for positions online at HolyCrossMedicalCenter.org/apply or by calling the HR Department at (575) 751-5782

Holy Cross Hospital Improves Noninvasive Diagnostics With New CT Scanner

Holy Cross Hospital made a substantial upgrade last year with the addition of a state-of-the-art Philips Incisive CT Scanner to the hospital’s Imaging Department. The Incisive CT Scanner offers excellent imaging capabilities allowing patients to get advanced diagnostic procedures right here in Taos.

This CT scanner is an example of our ongoing commitment to the health of our community. Having a machine of this caliber in Taos means that our doctors and local practitioners can offer patients a noninvasive diagnostic option and know that they are going to get high quality images without having to leave Taos.”

– James Kiser, CEO Holy Cross Medical Center

According to Philips, one of the standout features of the Philips Incisive CT Scanner is its advanced image quality, which allows for detailed and precise scans. Equipped with the latest innovations in imaging technology this scanner delivers exceptional image clarity while minimizing radiation exposure for patients. This means that healthcare professionals in Taos can now obtain clearer and more accurate images, supporting more reliable diagnoses and better patient outcomes.

The Philips Incisive CT Scanner boasts remarkable speed and efficiency, enabling healthcare practitioners to perform scans quickly and seamlessly, reducing wait times for patients, and improving overall operational efficiency at the hospital. This translates to a better experience for patients and better utilization of resources, ultimately benefiting both patients and practitioners alike.

The old scanner obtained 64 slices at a time, this new one captures 128 which means you acquire data twice as fast. The speed and your ability to acquire data results in better images, which can lead to faster diagnosis.

– Dr. Peter Selzer, Diagnostic Radiologist

The Incisive CT Scanner offers a wide range of clinical applications, making it a versatile tool for diagnosing various medical conditions. Whether it’s detecting injuries, assessing internal organs, or evaluating the progression of diseases, this state-of-the-art scanner empowers local healthcare practitioners to address a diverse array of patient needs with confidence and precision.

The Philips Incisive CT Scanner installed at Holy Cross Hospital

When it comes to supporting heart health and diagnosing cardiac disease, CT is a fundamental imaging method. Last year, Holy Cross Medical Center expanded Cardiology services by welcoming Dr. Tiziano Scarabelli and his wife Carol Chen-Scarabelli to the team. By offering the incisive CT machine at Holy Cross Hospital, Dr. Scarabelli and his team are able to better assess and diagnose the heart health of patients right here in Taos. The incisive CT machine provides necessary temporal resolution for a coronary exam due to its very fast rotation speed.

How CT is Used in Cardiology

Written by Dr. Tiziano Scarabelli, Cardiologist at Holy Cross Cardiology

The coronary calcium score (CCS) and coronary CT angiogram (CCTA) are two important heart tests that can help us understand the heart health of our patients. 

The coronary calcium score, in simple terms, shows us how much calcium is in the heart’s arteries, called coronary arteries. The finding of calcium in the coronary arteries means only one thing: presence of hardened plaque that can cause narrowing of the coronary arteries, limiting the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the heart. The bigger the coronary calcium score,  the greater the risk of heart-related issues. Many research studies have shown a direct link between a high coronary calcium score and the likelihood of future heart problems. This score has an invaluable prognostic value, helping us predict heart attacks, strokes, and sudden cardiac death. It is like a crystal ball giving us a glimpse into the future of our patient’s heart.

On the other hand, a coronary CT angiogram is a powerful tool for diagnosis. It’s like a high-definition TV for the heart, providing detailed, 3D images of the heart and its blood vessels. These images allow us to closely examine the heart from all angles and see things we can’t see with other tests. The main role of a coronary CT angiogram is to diagnose heart conditions, particularly coronary artery disease. This is a condition where plaque, a substance made of fat, cholesterol, and other elements, builds up in the heart’s arteries. This build-up can narrow or block the arteries, reducing blood flow to the heart, and potentially leading to a heart attack. The CCTA lets us see these plaques and blockages, and even measure their size, explaining for instance whether the chest pain experienced by our patients is truly coming from the heart. In addition, a coronary CT angiogram can help diagnose other heart conditions, such as congenital heart defects, problems with the aorta, or issues with the heart valves. So in essence, a CCTA helps us to solve the mystery of what’s happening inside our patient’s heart, helping us decide what is the best treatment plan.

A coronary CT angiogram is more powerful than any other tests, such as nuclear stress tests and stress echocardiograms. In fact, the latest recommendations give the highest endorsement (class Ia) for the use of coronary CT angiogram in patients with chest pain, while treadmill stress test, nuclear stress test and stress echocardiogram have a slightly lower endorsement (class Ib).

CT Scan results from the fast 0.35 second rotation speed of the Philips Incisive CT Scanner

So, by using these two tests, we can not only predict potential heart problems but also diagnose them accurately and early, which is particularly beneficial for our rural community where access to advanced healthcare may be limited. Excerpt written by Dr. Tiziano Scarabelli, Cardiologist at Holy Cross Cardiology

The Philips Incisive CT Scanner is designed with patient comfort and safety in mind. Featuring innovative technologies such as Ambient Experience and VitalEye, the scanner enhances the patient experience by creating a soothing and reassuring environment during scans. Its low-dose imaging capabilities prioritize patient safety by minimizing radiation exposure without compromising image quality, ensuring that patients receive the highest standard of care throughout their diagnostic journey.

The upgrade to the Philips Incisive CT Scanner represents a significant leap forward for Holy Cross and local health care practitioners. With its excellent imaging capabilities, speed, efficiency, and commitment to patient safety and comfort, this scanner is poised to meet the needs of diagnostic procedures and elevate the standard of care for patients in the region. As Holy Cross Hospital embraces constantly evolving healthcare technology, the community can access some of the very best in medical imaging services right in their own backyard.

Referrals are needed for CT scans. Just know that if you are in need of a CT Scan, there is a high quality option right here in Taos.

Dr. Mary Jo Young Brings Compassionate Primary Care to Taos

In 2023 Holy Cross Medical Center held a community-wide survey asking Taos County residents which services they would like to see expanded to better support the health of locals. The number one response highlighted a strong need for expanded primary care access. In a significant addition to the healthcare options in Taos, Dr. Mary Jo Young, an experienced primary care physician, has joined the team at Holy Cross Medical Center. Her journey from growing up in Europe to becoming a dedicated healthcare professional in Taos is an interesting story that reflects her passion for providing comprehensive and compassionate care to individuals and families.

Dr. Mary Jo Young, Primary Care Doctor standing next to a large stone sign for the primary care office.
Dr. Mary Jo Young, Primary Care – Taos, NM

Dr. Young’s international upbringing shaped her diverse perspective on life. Growing up in Germany, Italy, and Belgium, with an American mother and a German father, she developed a broad cultural understanding that would later contribute to her approach to healthcare. At age 18, she moved to the United States. Her educational journey began at Wellesley College, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Biology, followed by a master’s in Pharmacology from Harvard. Realizing her heart was not committed to research, Dr. Young started working as a health educator in High Schools where she started a peer education troupe.

Upon turning 30, Dr. Young felt compelled to change her career path, prompting a move to Colorado to pursue her dream of becoming a doctor. Four years of medical school at the University of Colorado and three years of residency later, she was working as a hospitalist at St. Anthony Central Hospital in Denver. After a year spent as a hospitalist, she realized her true calling in primary care, and began a journey towards becoming a respected primary care internist in Denver.

In 2021, life took another turn for Dr. Young when her partner retired, prompting her to reevaluate her priorities. The lure of Taos, where the couple enjoyed vacations and weekends, became irresistible. They decided to make Taos their home, and Dr. Young soon realized that retirement wasn’t for her – she loved to work, and it was her passion for caring for people that truly defined her.

A call to Holy Cross Hospital revealed a shared interest in expanding primary care services in Taos, and thus began Dr. Young’s new journey in caring for our community. She is pleased to provide primary care for both men and women, with a commitment to continuity of care.

One of the key aspects of Dr. Young’s approach is her deep connection with patients. Describing her relationship with them as a partnership, she values understanding their life stories and believes in aligning their health goals with evidence-based western allopathic medicine. In a community where alternative medicine is prevalent, Dr. Young excels in evidence based preventative care and strives to work collaboratively with her patients.

When asked about her favorite aspect of the job, Dr. Young expresses joy in getting to know people and understanding the intricate connection between their life stories and health. Her passion extends to mental health, an area she believes is crucial for overall well-being. As an active member of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), she recognizes the challenges in Taos County. While she does not provide mental healthcare, she understands the delicate interaction between mental health and physical health.

Dr. Young lives in Taos with her partner and their labradoodle, Juno. Beyond her medical expertise, Dr. Young is a lover of skiing, the outdoors, and art. Her affinity for fabric arts, including making quilts, reflects her creativity and the importance she places on the intersection of mental and physical health.

Dr. Mary Jo Young is committed to providing compassionate and comprehensive primary care. Her diverse background, passion for patient relationships, and dedication to long-term care make her a welcome presence in our vibrant community. Learn more about Holy Cross Primary Care at www.TaosPrimaryCare.org or by calling (575) 737-3415.

Five members of the primary care clinic team at Holy Cross standing in a row.
Dr. Mary Jo Young and Dr. Ellen Ouellette with some of the team at Holy Cross Primary Care

Learn more and schedule your appointment!

Call: (575)-737-3415