Nursing shortage compounds New Mexico’s hospital strain

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – New Mexico hospitals are in a crisis, not just due to COVID patients but also following a delay in care. Plus, the pandemic has amplified the problems the state has seen for years.

How many more hospital workers is New Mexico losing due to the vaccine mandate?

The vast majority of hospital workers are either vaccinated or have exemptions. There’s just a tiny, less than 1% of workers who have chosen not to get the shot.

“We’ve had all of our health care practitioners going full steam and overload trying to care for the needs here in our state with no breaks,” said Troy Clark, president and CEO of the New Mexico Hospital Association.

The New Mexico Hospital Association represents 47 hospitals in the state, and now they are all facing a nursing shortage crisis amid a vaccine requirement for all hospital workers.

According to the latest data from state health officials, just 0.67% of workers have chosen not to get vaccinated, but out of 37,000 workers – that’s still near 250 people.

“Even one nurse is a lot right now when you’re already stretched. So let’s be clear on that. But let’s also understand that it was probably a concern on the vaccine mandate when New Mexico issue on the mandate before there was a nationwide mandate,” said Clark.

So where are New Mexico hospitals at?

A spokesperson for Lovelace said 100% of its employees have either been vaccinated or exempt. They are also required to test weekly.

Meanwhile, officials with UNM Hospital said more than 95% of staff is fully vaccinated or exempt.

At Presbyterian, 99% of staff are vaccinated or exempt. Officials said less than 1% of the workforce are on leave for remaining unvaccinated.

A spokesperson for UNM wouldn’t give the specific numbers, but said they’ve also had employees who have chosen to leave.