Alumni

Brian Etheridge

Brian Etheridge
Location: Silver City, New Mexico Cohort Start Year: 2019 Project Topics: Addiction and Substance Abuse, Behavioral and Mental Health, Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Early Childhood, Education, Food Systems and Nutrition, Health Care Access, Health Care Quality, Immigrants and Refugees, Leadership Development, Maternal and Infant Health, Obesity, Oral Health, Public Policy, Public, Population and Community Health, Social Sector/Non-Profit, Violence and Trauma Populations Served: Adolescents (12-20 years), At-Risk/Vulnerable Populations, Children (6-11 years), Children and Families, Drug/Alcohol/Tobacco Users, Foster Youth and Families, Hispanic/Latino/Latinx, Homeless Populations, Immigrants and Refugees, Low-Income Communities, Migrant Workers, People with Disabilities, Rural Communities, Young Children (0-5 years)
Pediatric Services Medical Director
Hidalgo Medical Services

FOCUS

Rural pediatrician Brian Etheridge is focused on improving pediatric health in southwest New Mexico, where he grew up. Dr. Etheridge sees firsthand what research tells us: Children living in rural areas often experience worse health outcomes. Rural children are more likely to live in poverty, experience food insecurity, have unmet medical needs, and rely on Medicaid for their healthcare. Before the pandemic, 32 percent of local youth lived in poverty; 40 percent had a chronic health issue or unmet health need. The pandemic has severely exacerbated these problems. For example, the mining industry is one of just a few major employers in the region. When it abruptly furloughed most of its workforce, this caused financial hardship and worries for many of Dr. Etheridge’s patients and their families.

Health services are often disjointed. For example, a child may need speech therapy to overcome delays, but the insurance provider may not approve services, or they may have to travel many miles to access treatment. In contrast, Brian Etheridge has a vision for change where health systems seamlessly integrate to address the needs of all children and their families. Suppose a child needs early intervention services to address a speech delay. In that case, the insurance provider should help remove barriers to that service by providing support like case management, transportation, and expedited authorization. Dr. Etheridge recognizes that poverty, adverse childhood experiences, and disjointed care systems are core problems in his patients’ daily lives. He also acknowledges that improving the quality of life for children and families cannot be solved by healthcare system improvements or any one sector.

In 2019, Dr. Etheridge established the Grant County Pediatric Healthcare Collaboration (GCPHC) to improve outcomes for children by using a cross-sector approach to evaluate system gaps, amplify collective voices, and deliver targeted solutions for children and families in southwest New Mexico. The group includes child protective services, early childhood home visitors, educators, therapy providers, community leaders, and parents across socioeconomic spectrums. They identified a knowledge gap in community resources. To date, they have established a cloud-based, comprehensive community resource system covering the southwest corner of New Mexico (https://www.1degree.org/swnm); engaged in high-level discussion with stakeholders locally and in the state to improve access to specialty care for pediatric patients and their families; and advocated for legislation/policies to improve the health of rural kids and their families.

MORE ABOUT BRIAN
Brian Etheridge, MD, FAAP, is a pediatrician at Hidalgo Medical Services, a federally qualified health center (FQHC) in Silver City,
N.M. Growing up poor in southern New Mexico, he developed an understanding of how socioeconomics and poorly designed systems impact people’s access to resources, health outcomes, and potential. He is sensitive to the reality that poverty, adverse childhood experiences, and disjointed care systems are core problems in his patients’ daily lives. His experience in the CoHL program has stretched and deepened his appreciation for creating a Culture of Health in his community.

[contact-form-7 id=”1681″ title=”Share this opportunity”]