ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The pandemic is getting worse across the state and with transmission rates going up, hospitals are feeling the strain and enlisting extra help to treat COVID-19 patients.

Monday, experts from UNMH, Lovelace, and Presbyterian Hospitals again stressed the importance of staying home. They say they’re being forced to shuffle staff around as hospitals reach capacity. “Bringing in staff from outside of the state which we’ve done these include opening up units in places that sometimes you wouldn’t have a hospital unit in. Includes redeploying staff from many of our clinics and we are in the process of pulling in staff that has been trained to be in the hospital out of clinical settings into the hospital to assist,” says Dr. Jason Mitchell, Presbyterian Chief Medical Officer.

Officials at Lovelace say right now 32% of their beds are being used to care for COVID patients. Presbyterian says they are near or at capacity in several hospitals, with 189 COVID patients statewide with 39 in the ICU.

Last week, the governor made a plea to retired doctors and nurses to jump back in and help these medical systems handle the surge in cases. “Those doctors would be brought into our organization as long as they have an active New Mexico license they be brought in to our disaster privileging process and they would be working directly with providers supporting our medical staff supporting our medical care they would not have primary responsibility for patients,” says Dr. David Pitcher, UNMH Executive Physician.

UNMH was not able to give us exact numbers, but tell us they have a higher volume of COVID-19 patients now than they’ve ever had during the pandemic. Local medical leaders say they have no intention of reducing access to care for things like cancer or other urgent medical conditions but say non-urgent, elective procedures are being postponed.

UNM Health System Executive Physician Dr. David Pitcher, Presbyterian Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jason Mitchell, and Lovelace Chief Medical Officer Dr. Vesta Sandoval were in attendance during the discussion.