Updated: January 23, 2021 10:06 PM
Created: January 23, 2021 08:47 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- The pandemic highlighted some of New Mexico's shortcomings including hospital bed capacity.
New Mexico has some of the lowest numbers of hospital beds per capita in the nation.
However, UNM Hospital will soon help improve the situation by building a new hospital tower.
Construction on phase two of the project will begin Monday.
"That construction phase really includes a parking structure to facilitate our new hospital tower, so we're looking at building about a 1,400 parking space structure which will be located just to the north of the proposed hospital tower location," said Mike Chicarelli, chief operating officer at UNM Hospital.
After the parking structure is built, the hospital tower will go up.
"We want to make sure that our patients are in close proximity to the hospital itself," Chicarelli said. "We want to create an environment where they can park their car and be in the hospital in just minutes."
The parking area will also house the hospital's utilities, have a receiving dock that will make it easy for the hospital to get supplies and move them around the hospital efficiently.
The entire project will add 96 critical care beds.
"We planned on building the tower prior to the pandemic, and what I do know is that we needed the additional capacity then and I think that the pandemic has sort of highlighted that need for additional capacity, and it certainly will be helpful to have that capacity going forward," Chicarelli said.
The latest phase was approved in October by the New Mexico State Board of Finance. When it's all said and done, the parking structure will cost around $95 million.
The hospital tower, which still needs to jump through some approval hoops, will be closer to $522 million.
Construction on the hospital tower is expected to begin in June, and completed by the end of 2024.
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