New Mexico hospitals plead for public to stop COVID-19 spread, patient surge

Coronavirus New Mexico

ALBUQUERUQE, N.M. (KRQE) – New Mexico’s hub-hospitals are pleading with New Mexicans to help stop the spread of COVID-19, giving a dire warning Monday about the number of new cases and patients needing care. Representatives of the University of New Mexico Hospital, Lovelace, and Presbyterian health care systems said Monday if the current trend of close to 900 daily cases keeps up, it could be catastrophic for the state’s health care facilities.

“If we continue the current trend we have in our state for another month, we will not have enough health care workers, there will not be enough hospital beds,” said. Dr. Jason Mitchell, chief medical officers at Presbyterian. “If you look at the numbers and don’t assume that we roll over on those numbers and they come down, this will grow to a point where I don’t think anyone can take care of them.”

Presbyterian said Monday it had four times more patients hospitalized than it did four weeks ago. That includes about 84 COVID-19 patients and 26 people in the ICU.

With the current case numbers and hospital patient surge, representatives from the state’s leading health care systems said Monday they’re seeing more younger people needing COVID-19 treatment and a greater number of patients who live in the metro-area. Earlier in the pandemic, New Mexico’s COVID patient surge was coming from the northwest part of the state.

Doctors at all three facilities say they’re now looking day-to-day to see if they need to cut back on elective surgeries. They’re also looking to transfer more non-COVID patients that would normally stay in the Albuquerque-area to rural hospitals for recovery.

“If it continued at its current rate for a couple of months, it would be catastrophic,” said Dr. Mitchell. “There would be no beds in the hospitals, if got in a car wreck there would be no place for you to go, if need to deliver a baby there may not be a bed in the hospital for you.”

Dr. Mitchell added that he doesn’t foresee that scenario playing out in New Mexico, however. Mitchell said New Mexicans have shown before they pay attention and change behaviors when cases get high like they are now.

” If we all pull together today, then we will all be OK,” Dr. Mitchell said. “If we wait two weeks, three weeks, four weeks for any changes, we’re not going to be OK, and there’s not going to be enough staff anywhere that will be able to get us out of that.”

The state also has field hospitals available for overflow patients including one in Albuquerque on Gibson. However, doctors from the metro-hub hospitals said Monday they’re finding those facilities aren’t equipped to meet the needs they’re seeing for COVID-19 patients.

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