The Associated Press, Brittany Costello
Updated: November 09, 2020 06:09 PM
Created: November 09, 2020 01:17 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Top medical officers for some of New Mexico's largest hospital systems say they are now at or above normal capacity as the coronavirus pandemic surges across the state.
They briefed reporters Monday, saying they're seeing the strain on staff, and they won't be able to sustain the pace over the long term.
Presbyterian Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jason Mitchell says the hospitals are operating under contingency plans. He's among those pleading with people to stay home to curb the spread of the virus.
Officials at Presbyterian say their statewide system is treating 189 COVID-positive patients, 39 of which are in the ICU.
Lovelace officials say 32% of the medical center's beds are being used to care for COVID-positive patients.
UNM Hospital did not provide a number of patients but a spokesperson says the hospital has a higher volume of COVID patients than they have ever had during the pandemic.
New Mexico hospitals are preparing to treat even more COVID-positive patients in the near future.
"We are looking at those alternative ways to reduce demand for inpatient services right now," said Dr. David Pitcher, executive physical for UNM Health System. "That does include looking at truly non-urgent, elective surgical procedures and postponing those.
Hospitals do not plan on reducing services for patients who really need them-- like those with cancer.
"We've already begun cancelling elective surgeries that require overnight stays," Mitchell said. "We know we need the staff and the hospital beds. Those that can be postponed without any bad outcome for an individual for six weeks or longer are things that we'll do later."
Presbyterian is still encouraging people to get care so existing conditions don't become worse.
"We are also using video visits through our clinics as well as having as much contact with primary care and their patients as were able to do," said Dr. Vesta Sandoval, who is with Lovelace Medical Center.
All of the top health officials are stressing that the future of capacity and care depends on the community.
"It's really easy to go home and be in your house and feel like everything is OK because it's OK right there," Mitchell said. "But ill tell you, it is not OK in the state right now. We have, as a community, got to make dramatic changes to curb the spread of COVID."
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