ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – As cases of the coronavirus surge in neighboring states like Arizona and Texas, some of those patients are being transported here to New Mexico. Local hospitals said they’ve taken in patients from Arizona, but told KRQE News 13 they are at a high occupancy partly because of patients who have other conditions who put off care during the pandemic.
“It’s fairly rare that we actually transport people into New Mexico but we do,” said Dr. David Scrase. Dr. Scrase is the Human Services Department Secretary. He’s been keeping New Mexicans informed over the state’s coronavirus status since day one. Dr. Scrase said COVID-19 positive patients from Arizona, where there has been a surge in cases, are being transferred to New Mexico hospitals. “It’s not a big number and I don’t know the answer,” said Dr. Scrase.
As of Friday, July 17, 166 people are hospitalized in New Mexico. That number includes out-of-state patients being treated here. The Department of Health does not require hospitals to disclose how many out of state patients they’ve received.
In Albuquerque, Presbyterian said since the pandemic began, they’ve taken in 97 patients from the Navajo Nation in Arizona. Lovelace said they haven’t received any out-of-state transfers. UNM Hospital said they’ve received patients from Arizona, but won’t say how many. Dr. Scrase said the state does not count out-of-state patients in our state’s total of coronavirus cases.
“But we do include them in the hospitalization counts and you might think that’s confusing,” said Dr. Scrase. “The reason we do it, the reason we count patients in the hospital is we want to fully assess our hospital capacity and we have to count everybody in our hospital beds to do that.”
Although New Mexico is taking out-of-state patients, the DOH said it is monitoring how many beds and ventillators are available to make sure New Mexicans are also taken care of.
Federal laws require that if a neighboring state has hospital capacity, they take out-of-state patients. The governor told the Washington Post that New Mexico would not reject out-of-state patients even if it could.