FARMINGTON — Cornelia de Bruin, business and health reporter for The Daily Times, won the Guy Rader Award from the New Mexico Medical Society for her series of stories about Medicare, published in the Nov. 4, 5 and 6 editions of The Daily Times.

The series detailed challenges local residents face in finding physicians who accept Medicare and what the health care industry is doing to remedy the situation. The award, named after an Albuquerque doctor interested in journalism excellence, honors reporters writing about medicine with a $500 stipend. It is considered perhaps the highest award for journalism on health issues in New Mexico.

The story idea arrived in September, via a letter to the editor, de Bruin said, and hit a personal nerve. The letter outlined one local resident's frustration with Medicare.

"I'm in my late 50s," de Bruin said. "I was living a lot of these issues while I was writing this because I was trying to find a physician for myself. Most doctors I called said they don't take patients in my age bracket."

De Bruin found her sentiments were shared by other local patients in their "sunset years."

"It made me realize what senior citizens were going through and how terrifying it must be," she said. "The most difficult part was finding a person from the medical profession brave enough to go on record."

De Bruin was selected from a pool of other journalists across the state. This is the second consecutive year The Daily Times has won the Guy Rader Award. Lifestyles Editor Debra Mayeux earned the same honor last year for a story about methamphetamine and unborn infants.

"We are very proud of Cornelia," Daily Times editor Troy Turner said. "Winning awards such as this indicates that we are having a meaningful influence on issues in our community and state. Debra winning it last year and Cornelia this year also proves we have plenty of health issues to write about here in the Four Corners region.

"Cornelia's series was especially important this year and touched many nerves, as she hit the problem right on when she reported the troubles many local people have with getting proper medical attention in non-emergency situations," Turner said. "Obviously, her work endorses the need for greater health reforms."

The New Mexico Medical Society has a membership of 3,000 physicians from across the state.