ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Administrators from New Mexico’s main hospitals gave an update on Monday about how the vaccine rollout is going on their end, and how a decline in daily COVID-19 cases is impacting their facilities. “We are seeing the numbers come down which is good news,” said Dr. Vesta Sandoval of Lovelace Health System. She also said some hospitals are still very full with non-COVID patients.
“We too are prepared that once the supply chain becomes more consistent and we get more supply in, to be able to vaccinate more patient populations throughout our community,” said Dr. David Gonzales, of Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center in Santa Fe. “Because I know it is causing some stress.”
Doctors from Christus St. Vincent, Presbyterian, Lovelace, and the University of New Mexico Health System gave a status update on where their hospitals stand in the fight against COVID-19. Hospital administrators said they’re encouraged by the decline in daily COVID cases lately. “We are getting lower volumes of patients in all of our hub hospitals and fewer transfers,” explained Dr. Denise Gonzales, of Presbyterian Healthcare Services.
A recurring theme in Monday’s update was about supply and demand for the COVID-19 vaccine. “It’s difficult to predict with any accuracy how long it will take to get through the various phases,” said Dr. David Pitcher, of UNM Health System.
The state’s website scaled back its estimated timeframe for vaccine distribution phases. It’s now highlighting only the first two vaccine phases, making it clear after frontline healthcare workers, those eligible for the vaccine are people 75 and older, and those with health conditions who may be at risk for COVID complications.
Hospital administrators said they’re working through their own medical records to identify and reach out to patients who fall into that category. “It’s a lot easier for us to evaluate that when we’re vaccinating our own patients for our health system because we have access to their records,” said Dr. Denise Gonzales.
Showing proof of a chronic health condition is not required to get a vaccine. So signing up when you’re eligible is to some degree an honor system.
It’s something New Mexico Health Secretary Tracie Collins addressed in a later news conference on Monday. “We do have an attestation on the website when you register that you confirm you’re actually being honest,” said Dr. Collins. “We do ask people just to do your best because you know, this is a time where everybody is trying to get the vaccine and we don’t have enough, so we’ve had to prioritize those groups most at-risk.”
New Mexico’s hub hospital administrators said close to 80% of their staff opted into the vaccine program. Dr. Gonzales of Christus St. Vincent said doctors are closer to 100% percent acceptance of the COVID-19 vaccine.