My Life as a Locum Tenens: Deming, NM

City Home Page:
Population: 14,139 (Wikipedia 2019)
Assignment: Full Scope Pediatrics (Level 1 Nursery, Outpatient Clinic, Pediatric Hospitalist) [July 2021 – December 2021, 15 consecutive call shifts (360 hours) per month]
Food Recommendation: China, Marie’s Italian Grill, Elisa’s House of Pies, Si Señor, Mama Fats, Yoya’s Bar and Grill, Copper Kettle Coffee (Coffee and Pastries Only), Tacos Mirasol (No website), Los Victors, Sounds Good Cafe, Irma’s, Adobe Deli
Local Attractions: City of Rocks, Pancho Villa State Park, Go to Silver City and then go from there to Gila Cliff Dwellings, Spring Canyon, Rockhound

So, technically, this wasn’t a locum tenens job; but, originally it started out that way. I have a lot of friends interested in doing locum tenens but hesitant to the flighty lifestyle and temporary status that I in particular have embraced. For those, I welcome questions on certain jobs that move from locum tenens to more permanent placements – a sort of ‘audition’ if you will. Originally Deming, NM popped up as a locum tenens opportunity but on my arrival for the interview, became quickly a transition to a permanent contract. Given my lack of consistent hospitalist work in early 2021 due to the continued fallout of COVID-19 on the Pediatric job market, I kindly consented, against my preferences in inpatient locum settings, to the offer of a part time permanent contract in Deming, NM – Fifteen consecutive 24-hour shifts per month.

Job. As it was a critical access hospital (25 TOTAL BEDS), like most of my jobs, I did a majority of clinic (~90%), level 1 nursery, delivery attendance, and every now and then i’d admit a kid to our adult med/surg unit – something that wasn’t my favorite thing to do. A large amount of our delivering mothers would come from Puerto Palomas, a small town across the US-Mexican border. They would often come to the border in active labor, hoping to make it to our hospital (the closest one to that town) in time to deliver; they wouldn’t always make it there… (Border Babies and Border Medicine)

People. I was often told me the hospital serviced 22-23,000 people of the surrounding areas, but Deming itself only is listed at around 14-15,000 per the 2019 US Census. The people themselves are the kindest and most sincere ever. One of the reasons I promised to stay as long as I did was because of the people. From the sweetest clinic staff and the janitors, to the hospital cafeteria chef, to the OR team and the ER doctors, to the kind townspeople that would bring their children to see me in clinic, they were the best. It became hard to go places in town without someone recognizing me so I would try to go shopping late at night, in jeans and a hoodie to try to hide, but nonetheless I’ll never forget when a dad yelled at me across the produce aisle in Walmart, “Ey! Dr. Cabrera! Look, my baby is eating so much now!” That, was a cute bebe.

Buildings. As many railroad towns across the United States, Deming has seen some better days. Unfortunately, despite the general love that everyone has for this small town off the freeway, there seems to be clashing interest in the restoration of the downtown area. I have NEVER seen so many abandoned run down buildings then in Deming, NM. A loud rumor is that this falls on the Chamber of Commerce refusing to allow development of the town – simultaneously there is a huge “Mainstreet of America” project that you can see signs for around town.

Mimbres Memorial Hospital/Mimbres Valley Medical Group . My home for almost 100 days really, it was quaint, it was close-knit and it wasn’t perfect; but, people worked hard to make it as good as it could be. I have nothing bad to say about anyone I worked with and the work ethic of the community to support this small critical access hospital. I will never forget the “Cabrera, code in the ER, I need you,” all of my little Palomitas (the bebes born to mothers from across the border) and the high energy nursing staff, MA’s and co-providers in clinic. I’ve been in small hospitals, but nothing like this. Yet, it was kinda nice to have everything so close in clinic. Unlike any other working/training experience, we had several specialties all connected under ONE roof in clinic: Family Medicine, Physical Therapy, Podiatry, Cardiology, OBGYN, Pediatrics, Internal Medicine, Orthopedics. I remember there were a few days when I had a question for the OBGYN in clinic and had the luxury of literally walking down the hall – this isn’t something i’ve ever been able to do in a larger hospital/clinic. Likewise, every now and then I would get questions from the other specialties. Having flexible MA’s that would move from one clinic to the other was unbelievable. I learned more about Podiatry in 6 part time months than I have in many years prior to this. In fact, this was the first time as a Pediatrician, I’d ever had such interaction with any Podiatrists in the first place!

Overall, I will have a very special place in my heart for this little desert town because of the interactions I’ve had with all of the people, the dependence i’ve had on the less than 10 restaurants and all of my little tiny babies from Mexico and near the border that I had the privilege to take care of and follow as they grew over those 6 months. While, for me personally I couldn’t see myself living longterm in an area without Sushi… I left with new friends, experiences and most importantly now i know that about an hour west of Las Cruces, if you pull off the highway for a pit-stop, there’s a small little town that has a beating heart in the desert of the Land of Enchantment.

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