Enrique Cardiel on public health and healthy communities

Evaluation Lab News

Posted: Sep 19, 2022 - 12:00am

Enrique Cardiel has been in public health since 2001, and worked in public service before that. He is now the Executive Director of the Health Equity Council (HEC), formerly the Bernalillo County Community Health Council. In 1992 the state supported Child and Maternal Wellness Councils in all counties and tribal communities in New Mexico.  Over time, these became Community Health Councils and received less and less state support.  Today,  many operate as nonprofits.  The Health Councils engage community and get input on health policies and programming. HEC has a variety of different health initiatives and also does policy work with the city of Albuquerque in an effort to provide guidance for institutions and government officials.

Mr. Cardiel recently addressed the MPP Policy Seminar.  He maintains that there is enough money for public health, it just gets diverted to other things. In Bernalillo County, the largest mental health institution is the detention center. The system is set up in a way that people have to be part of the incarceration system in order to get access to the services they need.

Universal healthcare could be a step in the right direction to better serve New Mexicans. Because there are enough people already receiving Medicaid in this state, Mr. Cardiel does not think it would be a stretch for New Mexico to transition to universal healthcare and make sure that everyone is covered. Public health and having healthy communities is all about including people. Excluding people from access and care can quickly become a public safety issue.

Bernalillo County as whole has only 150-200 public health workers and yet health is expected to improve. On the other hand, there are at least 1500 law enforcement officers.  Mr. Cardiel agrees with former State Auditor and current Mayor Tim that the budget is your moral document, it tells you what you care about.