ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – New Mexico hospitals are bursting at the seams. Officials said this is the worst it’s ever been.

Now, the University of New Mexico Hospital (UNMH) is taking measures to keep up as best they can by putting up tents outside to process patients to expand capacity.

“We are at a greater capacity today than any point during the pandemic,” said Chris Ramirez, a spokesperson for UNMH, “I believe we are in our eighth straight week of our Children’s Hospital being above capacity. in recent weeks we have seen the exact same thing happen on the adult side we are significantly above 100 percent capacity.”

To help accommodate patients, they have set up a triage tent outside their emergency room doors. This won’t house patient rooms but will get patients ready to be seen in a room inside by staff.

“We have had to get really creative in trying to treat patients. We have gone through on a day-to-day basis and looked for space to literally house patients.”

This influx of patients is a result of the surge in respiratory illnesses this flu season.

“With our kids, it’s been a lot of RSV, rhinovirus, and respiratory illnesses. On the adult side, we are seeing a surge in COVID cases. We are seeing with flu-like symptoms. We are seeing more adults come in with respiratory illnesses.”

Wait times are going up in the ER. Sometimes it’s 10 hours or even longer.

Hospital officials are begging patients either to go to their primary care provider or urgent care unless it’s a true emergency. In most cases, these respiratory illnesses can be treated at home.

“We are a level one trauma center; we have to prioritize the trauma calls that are coming in. We have to prioritize the major problems like strokes and heart attacks.”

They are asking that people play it smart this holiday season, just as they recommended during the worst of COVID.

“It’s important that if you’re sick, you stay home. Maybe you sit this holiday party out.”

Health officials are asking, if you do come to the hospital, please be patient and respectful because the staff are overwhelmed.

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UNMH will be hosting an update on Monday alongside Presbyterian and Lovelace hospitals, addressing the challenges and how they plan to move forward.