ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The state’s major hospitals say they are preparing for more covid patients, while operating above capacity. They also gave a clearer idea of how many employees opted not to get vaccinated.


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The state’s major hospitals say they all had employees who chose not to follow the governor’s new vaccine mandate for healthcare workers. For Presbyterian, that means hundreds of workers are expected to go on leave.

“We currently have at least 97-percent of our entire 13,000 employee workforce either vaccinated or with an approved exemption,” Presbyterian Healthcare Services Medical Director Dr. Denise Gonzales stated.

Dr. Gonzales says the remaining 3-percent, or just less than 400 Presbyterian employees, will be placed on leave and can come back if they get vaccinated.

Christus St. Vincent in Santa Fe says it lost two traveling nurses who opted to work out of state and put two other employees on personal leave.

Lovelace says only as many as six employees have left the organization because of the mandate. UNM Hospital says 5-percent of their staff is neither vaccinated nor exempt, but that only a few employees have quit. It’s unclear if the rest of them are on leave.

They add they don’t expect the existing nursing shortage to be worsened as a result.

Officials say they expect the peak number of hospitalizations and deaths to come in late September, with patients typically staying in the ICU for two to three weeks.

“At UNM Health, we continue to function at above capacity for both our floor beds and our ICU beds,” UNM Hospital Chief Quality and Safety Officer Dr. Rohini McKee stated.

Many facilities have already been repurposing areas and are shifting rooms to make more space for patients. Presbyterian is also using outpatient antibody treatments to help reduce the number of hospitalizations. Officials remind people it’s not a replacement for the vaccine.

Hospitals say the majority of people currently hospitalized are a backlog of non-covid patients who delayed care because of the pandemic. The hospitals would not address how the leaving employees would affect services.

On Wednesday, the New Mexico Department of Health reported more than 380 people were currently hospitalized with COVID-19.