UNM plans new hospital amidst overcrowding concerns

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The University of New Mexico is working on a new plan to build a hospital to replace an old and overcrowded facility.

The idea is to design a replacement adult hospital on the UNM campus.

“The demand for services at UNMH continue to grow year over year,” said Dr. Michael Richards, the executive physician-in-chief with the UNM Health System.

Despite the increased demand, Dr. Richards said UNM’s adult hospital is outdated with parts of it built back in the 1950s.

“In a hallway that was designed say 50 years ago, it’s narrower and the floor to ceiling heights are shorter and the doorways are smaller,” Dr. Richards said.

Not enough space for the higher number of healthcare providers working now, he said.

“In some cases, we have difficulty moving equipment in and out of the rooms.”

So, UNM hired an architecture firm that’s getting input from people at the School of Medicine and UNM Hospital on what is needed.

“From that, we’ll be able to say the number of beds and the size of the facility,” Dr. Richards said.

It’s still early in the planning phase, so there’s not a design or even a location for the new hospital yet.

“This is a very big project,” Dr. Richards said. “At each of these steps, we take this back to the community, the governance both at the hospital and at the Regents.”

UNM pushed for a new hospital several years ago, but it stalled at the State Board of Finance.

If things go according to plan this time around, a new hospital could go up in the next five years.

“We’ll have a modern and contemporary medical facility,” said Dr. Richards.

An update on the planning process is expected to be presented in November at a Board of Regents meeting.

UNM said the discussion about how to pay for the new hospital won’t come until there’s a design proposed with an estimate on the cost of construction.

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