Spotlight: El Paso, Texas

By | 2017-01-13T20:41:16+00:00 October 3rd, 2016|
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My Take
It came as no surprise to El Pasoans that our city was voted the third best place in America to raise a family. Cost of living is relatively low, the crime rate is below the national average, and the climate is preferred by many, especially by those wheelers who have gotten tired of colder climates and shoveling snow off driveways and sidewalks every winter. A combined metropolitan population of 2.7 million people (El Paso, along with Las Cruces and Juarez, Mexico) constitutes the largest bilingual, binational workforce in the Western Hemisphere. There are great work opportunities for bilingual wheelers in the telecommunications sector, such as customer service representatives. Commute times throughout the city are relatively low and accessible housing is abundant. The city continues to grow at an exponential rate allowing for new facilities at both ends of the city with great accessibility.

Skinny on the City
El Paso is situated in the farthest west region of Texas on the Rio Grande River, nestled in the southern tip of the Rocky Mountains, also known as the Franklin Mountains. El Paso has been voted one of the safest large cities in the United States, making it an ideal place for wheelers to raise a family.

Recreation and Sports
The local wheelchair basketball and tennis teams  — the Air Wheelers and the Desert Rats, respectively — are always looking for new members. If you prefer watching, the Chihuahuas, the AAA affiliate of the San Diego Padres, play at Southwest University Park, which was named ballpark of the year by USA Today Sports Weekly in 2014. Finally, for outdoorsy people, Wyler Aerial Tramway at Franklin Mountains State Park offers a scenic view of 195,742 acres of rugged rock formations and a spectacular panorama of the majestic wildlife that encompasses the area.

Disability Community
The available support for durable medical equipment is not stellar in our city, and therefore we must depend on each other for assistance. Luckily, El Paso has a closely-knit community where we help one another. Wheelers throughout the city help each other out on short notices be it for simple advice, supplies or to help fix a broken chair. Just recently a disabled group known as “DIO” came together to sponsor a talent show composed of primarily disabled participants and donated all ticket sales to the local wheelchair basketball team. Another example of wheelers coming together to benefit the community is the “Greater El Paso District Annual Run, Walk & Roll.” The El Paso Physical Therapy District has been sponsoring the annual event for over 20 years. A portion of the proceeds are donated to the Rio Grande Chapter of the United Spinal Cord Injury Association. Our latest spinal cord injury group initiative is the incorporation of adaptive yoga lessons.

Health Care
El Paso has four major rehabilitation hospitals and three long-term acute care hospitals throughout the city. However, El Paso has a long history of having a healthcare provider shortage. Doctors, nurses, dentists, and allied health professionals who have decided to call El Paso home are often overworked and over-booked. Ultimately, higher wages and greater opportunities often lure healthcare professionals to other markets. Fortunately, state and city leaders are determined to reverse the trend. An aggressive campaign has been started to recruit healthcare professionals from other parts of the country by offering higher wages and incentives such as bonuses to attract enthusiastic professionals to the area. In addition, a “Health Enterprise Zone” at the newly established Medical Center of the Americas is a new initiative.  City leaders project that it will jumpstart the migration of new health care workers to the area.

Must See, Must Do
Because El Paso is centrally located, inexpensive day trips are a great way to escape the city and venture out to nearby scenic adventures. The small artisan town of Ruidoso, New Mexico, has adaptive skiing facilities that members of our local SCI group flock to during our mild winter months. The nearby Carlsbad Caverns National Park is a great way to explore the natural beauty of scenic rock formations and underground caverns. If camping and fishing is more to your liking, Elephant Butte Dam and nearby Caballo Lake State Park offer accessible camping and fishing spots. Keep in mind that parts of these parks are not fully wheelchair accessible.