Santa Fe New Mexican - Healthy Living - - NEWS - FRED SAN­DOVAL

Fred San­doval’s en­tire ca­reer has cen­tered on health and hu­man ser­vices. His long ré­sumé in­cludes lead­er­ship roles at the state Health De­part­ment and with or­ga­ni­za­tions fo­cused on be­hav­ioral health is­sues. Over his 61 years he has de­vel­oped a deep un­der­stand­ing of health care and health sys­tems. But it was his fam­ily’s per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ences and cul­tural val­ues that sig­nif­i­cantly shaped his views of health and well­ness and broad­ened them to in­clude phys­i­cal, men­tal, emo­tional, fi­nan­cial and spir­i­tual as­pects.

When San­doval grew up in Santa Fe dur­ing the 1950s and 1960s, his mother cared for her nine chil­dren by us­ing home

reme­dios to cure ail­ments. Home­grown spearmint treated stuffy noses. Peeled and sliced pota­toes dipped in vine­gar and ap­plied to fore­heads drew out fevers. Doc­tor vis­its weren’t part of their cul­tural prac­tice.

His par­ents’ strong work ethic made him more re­silient to the stress of mak­ing it on his own as a young man. He did what­ever he needed to do to sup­port him­self: load­ing 50-pound bags of chem­i­cals at a green­house and work­ing re­tail off-hours for ex­tra money. “I give credit to that in­flu­ence, my pro­tec­tive fac­tors that made me re­al­ize I had the ca­pac­ity to deal with chal­lenges,” he said.

Later in his adult­hood, San­doval saw how a dis­ease can al­ter a per­son’s tra­jec­tory. It was fam­ily who led him through this jour­ney too.

One of his sis­ters, Es­ther, was dis­charged from the army be­cause of an ill­ness, later di­ag­nosed as para­noid schizophre­nia, a brain dis­or­der that causes delu­sions. The chronic dis­ease un­rav­eled her life. She di­vorced, lost cus­tody of her chil­dren and spent a decade in and out of home­less­ness, hos­pi­tals, jails, shel­ters and peo­ple’s homes. She was re­ferred to the San­gre de Cristo Men­tal Health Cen­ter, where San­doval was di­rec­tor.

“We learned treat­ment can work if you can get it,” San­doval said. “In ad­di­tion to treat­ment, she had a sta­ble place to live, where she was safe. That changed her life.”

It changed San­doval’s life too. “The end prod­uct was I be­came an ad­vo­cate,” he said. “I get to ad­vo­cate for her and for peo­ple like her.”

To­day San­doval nur­tures his own well­ness by faith­fully at­tend­ing Our Lady of Guadalupe Church. “Spir­i­tu­al­ity helps us to un­der­stand how to cope, seek help, man­age our well­ness and re­lease pain by ask­ing for for­give­ness,” he said.

He treats ail­ments with cu­ran­dero (a Span­ish term for a tra­di­tional healer) ap­proaches in­volv­ing aro­mather­apy, mas­sage, prayers and other rit­u­als. And he re­lies on the cul­tural value of mu­sic — a per­sonal method for cop­ing and heal­ing — that was im­printed on him in the church pew long ago.

“My dad passed away at age 94, and my mom is still alive at 94,” he said. “It makes me un­der­stand the value of how long we can live and what it takes to get there. They ate well, worked hard and were ac­tive in all their pur­suits, es­pe­cially their spir­i­tual pur­suits. Un­der­ly­ing it all was their strength and their sense of re­silience.”

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