NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – New Mexico hospitals are bracing for a surge of COVID-19 patients and that means beefing up ICU staff. “It’s been nine years since I’ve worked in the intensive care unit,” says Sunni Gee.

Longtime nurse Sunni Gee is stepping away from the post-anesthesia care unit, to help Presbyterian ICU staff prepare for a surge of COVID-19 patients. “There’s a large group of us that have been cross-training in the intensive care unit,” Gee says.

Gee is just one of the 800 clinicians across the state that Presbyterian is training for different roles in the ICU. “We’re learning more every day about COVID-19 and how to take care of these patients and I don’t think we’ve ever experienced the intensity and the load of patients that our system is going to have to be able to absorb,” says Gee says.

Gee says she’s spent the past two weeks shadowing an ICU nurse and treating their patients, “Patients on ventilators, patients that at critically ill. Working side by side with those nurses to see the best that we can do to take care of these patients,” Gee says.

Lovelace is also cross-training their staff, offering online and in-person classes for nurses. Gee says the state has taken the right steps to give hospitals more time to prepare. “We’ve had a chance to look at some creative solutions some cross-training of staff. We’ve had time to really look at what other people have done and learn from that and a chance to get more prepared some places have,” Gee says.

She’s excited about the opportunity to do her part. “The way I see it, to get through it is by doing whatever we can and our part to help our community get through this time,” Gee says. The governor said last week they expect a peak near the end of the month or early May. The University of New Mexico Hospital is also working on a re-deployment plan but nothing is finalized yet.