Backup hospital in Albuquerque opens as COVID-19 hospitalizations rise

Coronavirus New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The state will open an alternate care site in the old Lovelace Hospital on Gibson. The site will serve patients who do not require acute care but have underlying conditions that could cause the virus to progress quickly.

“This facility will alleviate some of the immense pressure our state health care system which is rapidly becoming overcrowded and taxed under the shroud of this pandemic,” said Department of Health Cabinet Secretary-designate Tracie C. Collins, M.D in a news release. “Facilitating the opening of this alternate care site as one of the first tasks under my leadership is an honor. The state has been prepared for this type of action and we are ready to provide specified care for New Mexicans in need.”

There are currently 50 beds set up, but the facility can hold up to 180. The state recruited healthcare workers who were unemployed to staff the site, so other medical personnel are not taken out of busy hospitals. The medical center will open on Friday, Scrase said.

The opening of the medical center comes after the governor announced 3,675 new cases on Thursday. There were also 12 additional deaths.

On Thursday the governor also announced that she will call a special legislative session prior to Thanksgiving. The governor said the goal of the special session will be to provide COVID-19 relief for businesses and New Mexicans.

The state still has about $300-million in federal CARES Act money. The governor wants it spent on grants for small businesses as well as benefits like an extra $300 dollars a week for four weeks for unemployed New Mexicans. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are eager to get that money to New Mexicans and have other ideas, too.

The special session is scheduled to begin Tuesday, Nov. 24 and lawmakers expect it will only last one day. The Roundhouse will be closed to the public during that time. The governor says she knows it’s a tough time to bring legislators back to Santa Fe but said it’s necessary so the state can quickly provide economic aid to those who need it. The governor also says she hopes to start getting the “money out the door” by Monday, Nov. 30.

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