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San Juan Regional prepares for predicted surge of coronavirus cases in Four Corners region

Hannah Grover
Farmington Daily Times

AZTEC — State officials are predicting a surge in coronavirus cases will begin with the Four Corners region.

During a Facebook live video earlier this week, Human Services Director Dr. David Scrase said northwestern New Mexico could see a surge in cases at the end of this week or early next week.

A surge in cases could create challenges for the San Juan Regional Medical Center due to limited bed space, a fact far from lost on those fighting the virus on the local front. 

Spokeswoman Laura Werbner said the facility is looking at all possibilities for moving and creating additional spaces to serve patients.

“We have the ability to double-up bed capacity and expand under our own roof,” she said in an email. “We also are looking at ways we can utilize facilities that are appropriate for use in our local community.”

Currently, Werbner said there are a “small number” of coronavirus patients at San Juan Regional Medical Center, and that the number of patients can fluctuate each day.

And San Juan Regional Medical Center is not alone in its efforts to increase bed space. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been looking for facilities it could retrofit in the Farmington area to serve patients, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said during a Facebook live video this week.

COVID-19 news: Latest coronavirus updates from San Juan County, Four Corners region

Another concern facing the community is whether a surge in cases would lead to a shortage of ventilators.

Werbner said the current needs are being met, and it is hard to say if a surge could cause a shortage “but we continue to monitor needs and prepare for what we are facing.”

San Juan Regional adds COVID-19 screening line

As of the afternoon of April 2, San Juan Regional Medical Center had tested 528 people. Of those 528 people, 432 of them tested negative for the coronavirus. Ten of them have had positive test results, and the medical center has not received results for 86 of the tests.

The medical center is testing all patients who show symptoms of influenza-like illnesses including flu, RSV and COVID-19. Werbner said the hospital is not seeing very many patients test positive for the flu at this time.

San Juan Regional Medical Center added a COVID-19 screening line this week. People who suspect they might have the coronavirus can call 505-675-4722 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. through Friday this week and 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekdays starting April 6.

People who are not exhibiting coronavirus symptoms, including fever, cough, body aches, sore throat and runny nose, are being asked not to go to the external assessment area at San Juan Regional Medical Center.

Coronavirus response:Why is some data not being released in New Mexico?

The hospital is also looking for donations of N-95 masks, or even sewn masks that patients can wear. These can be dropped off between 6:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday at the main entrance.

The latest information about coronavirus in the community can be found online at www.sanjuanregional.com/coronavirus or by calling the coronavirus information hotline at 505-516-0938 or toll free at 888-949-5387.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at hgrover@daily-times.com.

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