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Open the Door Whenever Opportunity Knocks

Authors

  • Mallery H. Downs,

    1. R.N., is Program Manager, Community Outreach and Education Program, New Mexico Center for Environmental Health Sciences, and Community Environmental Health Program, College of Pharmacy, University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, Albuquerque, New Mexico,
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  • Alexis Kaminsky,

    1. Ph.D., is Program Evaluator, Community Outreach and Education Program, New Mexico Center for Environmental Health Sciences, and Community Environmental Health Program, College of Pharmacy, University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, Albuquerque, New Mexico
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  • Johnnye Lewis

    1. Ph.D., D.A.B.T., is Director, Community Outreach and Education Program, New Mexico Center for Environmental Health Sciences, and Community Environmental Health Program, College of Pharmacy, University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, Albuquerque, New Mexico; he is also founder, President, and CEO of Environmental Health Associates, Inc., a small consulting company with no financial or other interest in the work presented here
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Mallery H. Downs, R.N., CEHP/College of Pharmacy, MSC09 5360, 1 University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131-0001. E-mail: mdowns@salud.unm.edu

Abstract

ABSTRACT The Community Environmental Health Program/Community Outreach and Education Program (CEHP/COEP) New Mexico Center for Environmental Health Sciences has learned that listening and responding to opportunities that arise in local communities can be a more effective means of reaching health care providers, lay health workers, and community members than structured plans of action. While specific opportunities that have occurred in New Mexico may be unique, they are presented here with the hope that they might suggest new strategies to the reader and help to identify parallel opportunities in other communities. The paper is organized around three major opportunities to which CEHP/COEP has responded: (1) the need for more informed health care in communities with unique and complex environmental and occupational exposures due to their proximity to National Laboratories; (2) the need for resources on environmental health within local provider networks and issue-specific groups; and (3) the need for community environmental health projects within the College of Nursing. CEHP/COEP's responses, observations, and lessons learned through these experiences are discussed. In the end, the major lesson is that the ability to respond to opportunities requires flexibility and creativity; by sticking doggedly to plans, valuable—and sometimes more profitable and productive—opportunities may be missed.

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