New Mexico Enacts Crisis Standards of Care for Hospitals

“People in the hospital are as sick as they’ve ever been. Sicker, actually.”

COVID-19 Update

With New Mexico still experiencing high levels of COVID-19 cases, crowded hospitals and inadequate health care personnel, the state today enacted crisis standards of care for hospitals.

The new status comes for the first time since December of 2020, under very different circumstances. Then, hospitals were full, Acting Health Secretary Dr. David Scrase said during an afternoon news conference, with approximately 2/3 of patients with COVID-19 and the remaining with other types of health issues. Now, the proportions are reversed, with non-COVID patients often very sick and needing longer stays of care, in many cases due to delayed care during the pandemic. As of today, 300 people are hospitalized with COVID-19.*

Slide, "Evaluating NM hospital system's capacity." NMDOH, 10.18.21

“We were at a peak” in December, Scrase said, “and I think it’s important to pause for a moment and ask how can things be so bad when it seems like the number of COVID admissions is less than half [of what it was]. And the answer to that question is people in the hospital are as sick as they’ve ever been. Sicker, actually.”

Across the state, ICUs remain at 100%, with only 11 ICU beds available statewide as of this morning. Adding to the crisis is a nurse shortage and some supply chain issues, he said.

Jennifer Vosburgh, associate chief nursing officer at University of New Mexico Hospital, who works with the state’s call and transfer center to divvy up resources among hospitals, said in the previous surge, the call center was able to find placement for patients needing an ICU bed. That isn’t happening now.

“We are often finding ourselves saying, ‘No, we don’t have a bed.’ This is very distressing. This is not what we got into the business of health care for,” she said, adding that the consequence can be that the patient dies as a result. “This is very distressing for our staff and all the health care workers that can’t provide the care were trained to do.”

Slide, " ICU Beds and Med/Surgical Beds as of Oct.13, 2021." NMDOH, 10.18.21

In addition, Vosburgh said, patients are being taken care of in rooms not intended for patients, such as operating rooms or catheterization laboratories. And a nursing shortage, which predates the pandemic, has worsened, she said, particularly in rural New Mexico.

“We are in a crisis,” she said. “We need to get control of our COVID patients immediately so we can focus on New Mexicans that need and deserve care.”

Slide, "What does Crisis Standards of Care mean for patients and providers." NMDOH, 10.18.21

In advance of enacting crisis standards of care, the state has taken other measures to mitigate the pressure on hospitals, such as working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to find additional staffing resources; contracting more nurses statewide; and expanding the use of monoclonal antibody treatments, which Scrase said are now being administered at unprecedentedly high rates and likely are responsible for COVID hospitalizations not being worse.

Slide, "The state recognizes that conditions requiring the implementation of crises-level standards of care are present in NM hospitals." NMDOH, 10.18.21

The decision comes as the state also grapples with rising rates of transmission. New Mexico health officials today reported 1,895 new COVID-19 cases for the three-day period of Oct.16-18, bringing the statewide total so far to 265,632. DOH has designated 236,245 of those cases as recovered.

San Juan County had 384 new cases, followed by Bernalillo County with 379 new cases and Doña Ana County with 148. Santa Fe County had 69 cases.

Currently, all counties show the highest levels of transmission—red—and the state has also exceeded its threshold of 7.5% for test positivity rates and is now hovering at 8.1%, with Scrase encouraging residents to seek out testing. When the test positivity rate rises above 7.5%, he noted, “What that translates to, for us, is a loss of confidence” that the state is catching all the cases.

Slide, "Levels of COVID-19 community transmission is currently high in all New Mexico counties." NMDOH, 10.18.21

The state also announced 12 additional deaths, eight of them recent; there have now been 4,942 fatalities. Soon, Scrase noted, the state will surpass 5,000 deaths. There have been nearly 1,000 deaths since the start of February in which people “didn’t need to die had they been vaccinated and that really is a tragedy,” he said. Unvaccinated people make up most of the new COVID-19 cases (83.6%), hospitalizations (89.1%) and deaths (93.1%).

And while there are more non-COVID patients than those with the disease, Vosburgh said, “it is significant we still have 300 plus COVID patients, which is 300 beds that could be freed up.” But as far as crisis standards of care, “we evaluate patients regardless of their situation. Patients are patients.”

Slide, "Getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent hospitalization or death." NMDOH, 10.18.21

Currently, 81.1% of New Mexicans 18 years and older have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 71.6% are fully vaccinated. Among that demographic, 5.3% have had a booster shot. In the 12-17-year-old age group, 53.5% people have had at least one dose and 62% are fully inoculated. In Santa Fe County, among those 18 years and older, 91.8% have had at least one dose and 81.7% are fully vaccinated.

In addition to encouraging unvaccinated New Mexicans to seek out immunizations, Deputy Health Secretary Dr. Laura Parajón previewed upcoming availability of booster shots for Moderna and J & J recipients—some Pfizer recipients are already eligible—once the Food & Drug Administration approves those boosters.

Slide, "Moderna boosters are making their way through the federal approval process." NMDOH, 10.18.21

Federal regulators also are expected to approve the Pfizer vaccine for 5-11-year-olds, she said, possibly by the start of next month. “Even though kids get sick less often and die less often, they can still contract and transmit COVID at the same rate as adults,” Parajón said, “so vaccinating children will also [protect adults]. As a family physician, for us and for others who are parents, this is just so exciting to know this is an opportunity for us to support kids of all races and ethnicities and all walks of life.”

Slide, "Clinical trial results: Pfizer vaccine effective and safe for 5-11 year-olds." NMDOH, 10.18.21

The Pfizer vaccine also will be easier for pediatricians to administer, she said, as it will consist of smaller doses that can be stored more easily.

Slide, "Pfizer pediatric COVI-19 vaccine: Small doses, easier access for pediatricians." NMDOH, 10.18.21

“I would just say out of fairness to all our professionals who are keeping folks alive and doing as much as they can, out of fairness to them, we need to think about what every single person can do,” Scrase said. “There’s still something virtually everyone can do.”

New cases

  • 379 new cases in Bernalillo County
  • 3 new cases in Catron County
  • 73 new cases in Chaves County
  • 21 new cases in Cibola County
  • 16 new cases in Colfax County
  • 29 new cases in Curry County
  • 2 new cases in De Baca County
  • 148 new cases in Doña Ana County
  • 39 new cases in Eddy County
  • 37 new cases in Grant County
  • 1 new case in Harding County
  • 6 new cases in Hidalgo County
  • 36 new cases in Lea County
  • 39 new cases in Lincoln County
  • 14 new cases in Los Alamos County
  • 9 new cases in Luna County
  • 99 new cases in McKinley County
  • 4 new cases in Mora County
  • 131 new cases in Otero County
  • 4 new cases in Quay County
  • 50 new cases in Rio Arriba County
  • 20 new cases in Roosevelt County
  • 118 new cases in Sandoval County
  • 384 new cases in San Juan County
  • 24 new cases in San Miguel County
  • 69 new cases in Santa Fe County
  • 13 new cases in Sierra County
  • 10 new cases in Socorro County
  • 14 new cases in Taos County
  • 24 new cases in Torrance County
  • 4 new cases in Union County
  • 65 new cases in Valencia County
  • 1 new case among individuals held by federal agencies at the Otero County Processing Center
  • 5 new cases among New Mexico Corrections Department inmates at the Central New Mexico Correctional Facility in Valencia County
  • 4 new cases among New Mexico Corrections Department inmates at the Northeast New Mexico Correctional Facility in Union County

New fatalities

  • A female in her 50s from Curry County who was hospitalized
  • A male in his 50s from Curry County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions
  • A female in her 70s from Curry County who had underlying conditions
  • A female in her 40s from Eddy County
  • A female in her 60s from McKinley County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions
  • A male in his 60s from Quay County who was hospitalized
  • A male in his 80s from Sandoval County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions
  • A female in her 40s from San Juan County who had underlying conditions

Newly reported fatalities from more than 30 days ago

  • A female in her 70s from Bernalillo County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions
  • A male in his 30s from Bernalillo County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions
  • A male in his 60s from Quay County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions
  • A female in her 70s from San Juan County who was hospitalized

Congregate facilities

The Department of Health has identified at least one positive COVID-19 case in residents and/or staff in the past 28 days at the following facilities:

  • Adobe Assisted Living in Las Cruces
  • Albuquerque Heights Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center
  • All Care Assisted Living in Clovis
  • The Aristocrat Assisted Living Center in Las Cruces
  • Artesia Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center in Artesia
  • Aspen Ridge Lodge Retirement in Los Alamos
  • Aztec Healthcare in Aztec
  • BeeHive Homes Farmington
  • BeeHive Homes of Four Hills in Albuquerque
  • BeeHive Homes Gallup
  • Bloomfield Nursing and Rehabilitation in Bloomfield
  • The Bridge of Farmington in Farmington
  • Calibre Sagecrest Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Las Cruces
  • Canyon Transitional Rehabilitation Center in Albuquerque
  • Casa Arena Blanca Nursing Center in Alamogordo
  • Casa de la Reina Assisted Living in Albuquerque
  • Casa de Oro in Las Cruces
  • Casa Real in Santa Fe
  • Cedar Ridge Inn in Farmington
  • Clayton Nursing and Rehabilitation in Clayton
  • Crane’s Roost Care Home in Aztec
  • Desert Springs Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Hobbs
  • Elmcroft of Quintessence in Albuquerque
  • Fairwinds Assisted Living in Rio Rancho
  • Fort Bayard Medical Center in Santa Clara
  • Genesis San Juan Center in Farmington
  • Genesis Silver City Care Center in Silver City
  • Good Life Senior Living in Hobbs
  • Good Life Senior Living in Ruidoso
  • Good Samaritan Society Las Cruces
  • Good Samaritan Society - Las Cruces Village Las Cruces
  • Landmark at Desert Gardens in Hobbs
  • Las Cruces Post Acute and Rehabilitation Center of Cascadia (Welbrook Senior Living) in Las Cruces
  • Life Care Center in Farmington
  • Lovington Healthcare in Lovington
  • The Meadows Home at the New Mexico Behavioral Health Institute in Las Vegas
  • Mission Arch Center in Roswell
  • MorningStar Assisted Living and Memory Care of Albuquerque
  • MorningStar Memory Care at North Ridge in Albuquerque
  • The Neighborhood Assisted Living in Rio Rancho
  • Princeton Place in Albuquerque
  • Red Rocks Care Center in Gallup
  • The Rehabilitation Center of Albuquerque
  • The Rio at Las Estancias in Albuquerque
  • Santa Fe Care Center in Santa Fe
  • Seniorcare LLC - Raven House in Albuquerque
  • Sierra Health Care Center in Truth or Consequences
  • Skies Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center in Albuquerque
  • Sombrillo Nursing Home in Los Alamos
  • Vida Encantada Nursing & Rehabilitation in Las Vegas
  • Village at Northrise - Desert Willow in Las Cruces
  • Wheatfields Senior Living Community in Clovis
  • White Sands Healthcare in Hobbs
  • Willow Manor Residential Care Center in Deming

Statewide cases

County totals are subject to change upon further investigation and determination of residency of individuals positive for COVID-19.

  • Bernalillo County: 74,239
  • Catron County: 199
  • Chaves County: 12,479
  • Cibola County: 3,582
  • Colfax County: 1,255
  • Curry County: 7,262
  • De Baca County: 231
  • Doña Ana County: 29,461
  • Eddy County: 10,734
  • Grant County: 2,344
  • Guadalupe County: 602
  • Harding County: 43
  • Hidalgo County: 562
  • Lea County: 13,408
  • Lincoln County: 2,843
  • Los Alamos County: 780
  • Luna County: 3,886
  • McKinley County: 14,530
  • Mora County: 359
  • Otero County: 6,320
  • Quay County: 995
  • Rio Arriba County: 4,696
  • Roosevelt County: 2,671
  • Sandoval County: 15,640
  • San Juan County: 20,393
  • San Miguel County: 2,548
  • Santa Fe County: 12,904
  • Sierra County: 1,029
  • Socorro County: 1,671
  • Taos County: 2,327
  • Torrance County: 1,378
  • Union County: 344
  • Valencia County: 8,978

Cases among people being held by federal agencies

  • Cibola County Correctional Center: 455
  • Otero County Federal Prison Facility: 546
  • Otero County Processing Center: 546
  • Torrance County Detention Facility: 353

Cases among people being held by the New Mexico Department of Corrections

  • Central New Mexico Correctional Facility in Valencia County: 327
  • Guadalupe County Correctional Facility: 256
  • Lea County Correctional Facility: 762
  • Northeast New Mexico Correctional Facility in Union County: 176
  • Northwest New Mexico Correctional Center in Cibola County: 130
  • Otero County Prison Facility: 473
  • Penitentiary of New Mexico in Santa Fe County: 224
  • Roswell Correctional Center: 229
  • Southern New Mexico Correctional Facility in Doña Ana County: 235
  • Springer Correctional Center in Colfax County: 151
  • Western New Mexico Correctional Facility in Cibola County: 76

*Per the health department, hospitalization figures include people who were tested elsewhere but are hospitalized in New Mexico, but don’t include people who were tested here but are hospitalized out of state.

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