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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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Network brings health information to county residents

The Border Health Information and Education Network (BIEN!) is a unified public service effort, led by the New Mexico State University Library, which brings reliable health information to the residents of Dona Ana, Luna and Otero counties.


roups, surveys and statistics demonstrate that critical health information needs exist in southern New Mexico. This region includes several medically underserved and health professional shortage areas as well as a prevalence of diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

According to New Mexico Department of Health data, Luna County in its entirety and portions of Dona Ana and Otero counties are classified as medically underserved areas by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Southern Dona Ana County, southeastern Otero County, Luna County and Hatch are classified as health professional shortage areas.

BIEN! is composed of 17 community partners, including academic and public libraries, hospitals, clinics and other public health service organizations in the three counties. BIEN!'s mission is to create opportunities to improve the health behaviors of residents of the borderland by providing quality health information in English and Spanish.

The energy and enthusiasm of the BIEN! partners for the project and the recognition that improved access to quality health information can make a dramatic difference in the quality of people's lives by empowering them to make informed health choices for themselves and their children are conveyed by the project's acronym, BIEN!, Spanish for "well!"

Since 1999, BIEN! has provided access to health information in electronic, book and pamphlet formats, and educated consumers
in its use. Under the direction of project director Sylvia Ortiz of the NMSU Library, project staff Judith Pearson and Molly McGetrick conduct training sessions in accessing and evaluating sources of health information, travel in a circuit to visit staff and consumers at BIEN! partner sites, provide community outreach, and provide centralized health information services to health professionals, educators and students. BIEN! has also created an informative health web site with links to reliable information in English and Spanish. The site may be accessed at http://www.nmsu.edu/bien.

Planning for BIEN! was accomplished with a $10,000 planning grant received in 1999 from the Paso del Norte Health Foundation of El Paso. Once BIEN! defined the health information needs of our region through surveys and focus groups, a $204,000 Information Access Grant received from the National Library of Medicine provided equipment, information resources and personnel for BIEN!'s first full year of operation in 2000-2001.

BIEN! has met its first-year goals, which include installation of computers with Internet access and printers at all 17 locations, creation of the BIEN! web site, purchase of various web-based health and medical information database subscriptions available to project partners and conducting training sessions in the use of electronic health information. Community groups are welcome to contact BIEN! personnel to schedule a BIEN! training session.

BIEN! resources are of value to health care professionals as well as consumers. Some of the subscription databases made available by BIEN! are MDConsult, AltHealth Watch and BioMed Full Text. MDConsult provides access to major medical reference books, medical journal literature, drug updates and practice guidelines. The focus of AltHealth Watch is the holistic and integrated approach to health care and wellness. BioMed Full Text provides access to journals covering the biomedical disciplines, including clinical medicine, public health, nutrition, health management and pharmacology.

The 17 BIEN! partner institutions are governed by an executive board chaired by Norice Lee of the Dona Ana Branch Community College Library and Media Center. Executive board members are Dr. Paul Lang of the New Mexico Department of Health, Public Health Division, District III; Dr. Hugo Vilchis-Licon of the Border Epidemiology and Environmental Health Center; Sunnie Bell of Memorial General Medical Center; Carol Brey of the El Paso Public Library; Jeanette Smith of NMSU and the project director and project staff. There are also regular meetings of representatives from all 17 BIEN! partner institutions.

Funding for the BIEN! project ends in September. If you wish to help BIEN! continue its health information services to our community, please contribute to the Border Health Information and Education Network fund 69032, care of the NMSU Foundation, P.O. Box 3590, Las Cruces, NM 88003-3590.

For more information regarding BIEN!'s resources and services, please contact project director Sylvia Ortiz at 646- 7481 or sortiz@lib.nmsu.edu.