Local health officials: Hospitals reaching limit

Coronavirus New Mexico

Watch the complete virtual news conference

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Health officials from the University of New Mexico Health, Presbyterian, and Lovelace Health System held a virtual news conference Monday providing updates on COVID-19 hospitalization rates and trends in addition to updates on the latest evidence.

In attendance were UNM Hospital Chief Quality and Safety Officer Dr. Rohini McKee, Presbyterian Chief Patient Safety Officer and Medical Director of Infection Control Dr. Jeff Salvon-Harman, and Lovelace Chief Medical Officer Dr. Vesta Sandoval.

As New Mexico hospitals continue to fill up, medical leaders are pleading with people to stay home for Thanksgiving. Hospital officials say they are seeing an unprecedented number of patients and they want people to buckle down this holiday to help control it.

“Find your humanity for the next few weeks, bring this under control. It’s a very difficult time with the holidays approaching, wanting to be with family but if you think in the long run that those things you do now and the get-togethers you may forgo this year because of the pandemic will help you ensure those family members those friends are there for the next year,” says Dr. Jeff Salvon-Harman, Presbyterian Chief Patient Safety Officer and Medical Director of Infection Control.

Hospital leaders say they are nearing the point of crisis standard of care, meaning they will have to max-out all hospital space to care for COVID patients. Doctors say the best way to create capacity is to avoid gatherings this holiday. They warn if behaviors don’t change, in three to four weeks they will be out of ICU beds.

Presbyterian officials did give some positive news, they say in the past week, they saw a downward trend in positivity rates “It’s likely a very early sign that we are starting to see the benefit a week into those public health orders and if we continue on that trend we will see that rate of positivity going down, there’s a slowing a spread in our community,” says Salvon-Harman.

As of Monday morning, Presbyterian has 256 COVID-19 patients and 47 ICU patients. So far they haven’t transferred any patients to the Gibson facility. UNMH tells us they are also re-configuring units to deal with the influx of COVID-19 patients.

New Mexico hospitals face a capacity crunch because of the coronavirus outbreak, so the state, on Friday, opened an alternate care facility for COVID-19 patients in a renovated former hospital in Albuquerque.

The state Department of Health said the Gibson Medical Center will serve adults who don’t require acute care. The facility won’t have an emergency hospital, intensive care unit, or a surgical suite. It initially will provide 25 beds for patients needing nursing care and an additional 25 beds for isolation or quarantine. Capacity can be expanded to up to 180 beds. State health officials on Friday reported 2,993 new positive COVID-19 tests and 23 related deaths.

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