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New Mexico hospitals continue to be tested by demands of COVID-19 pandemic

Farmington's San Juan Regional Medical Center among busiest

Mike Easterling
Farmington Daily Times
  • Many hospitals around New Mexico are operating at bed occupancy rates that approach or exceed 90%.
  • Albuquerque's two largest hospitals are working at near capacity.
  • San Juan Regional Medical Center in Farmington had an occupancy rate of more than 87%.

FARMINGTON — New Mexico's COVID-19 infection rate may still be coming down after reaching its peak in late November, but hospitals across the state continue to be severely tested by the demands of the pandemic.

Many hospitals around New Mexico are operating at bed occupancy rates that approach or exceed 90%, including the San Juan Regional Medical Center in Farmington, according to a survey updated Jan. 18 and compiled by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

But the Farmington institution is not the busiest large health-care institution in the state. Albuquerque's two largest hospitals — the University of New Mexico Hospital and Presbyterian Hospital — are working at near capacity.

How full are New Mexico hospitals?

Presbyterian led the way with 636 of its 726 total beds occupied over a seven-day average for an occupancy rate of 93.3%. The UNM Hospital was close behind with 592 of its 754 beds occupied for a rate of 92.8%. Presbyterian also saw approximately 87% of its intensive-care unit beds filled, while UNM had approximately 76% of those beds occupied.

Bernalillo County, where the two hospitals are located, led the state with more than 47,000 reported cases of COVID-19 as of Jan. 22, according to the New Mexico Department of Health.

At San Juan Regional, approximately 180 of the 217 beds were occupied over the seven-day average for a rate of 87.3%. An average of 18 of the hospital's 23 ICU beds were filled for an occupancy rate of more than 78%.

Farmington's San Juan Regional Medical Center remains one of the busiest hospitals in the state as the COVID-19 pandemic lingers.

As of Jan. 22, San Juan County ranked third in the state, with nearly 12,500 reported cases of the virus. Figures for the Northern Navajo Medical Center in Shiprock, a 75-bed facility, were not available because Indian Health Service facilities are not included in the weekly HHS survey, nor are Veterans Administration institutions.

In Doña Ana County, with the state's second-highest total of cases at more than 20,000, two large hospitals are also seeing continued high numbers. Mountainview Regional Medical Center had more than 150 of its 174 beds filled for an occupancy rate of 86.6%, while more than 96% of its ICU beds were occupied. The news was better at Memorial Medical Center, which saw nearly 136 of its 191 beds filled for an occupancy rate of 71%. But approximately 84% of its ICU beds were filled.

A closer look at COVID hospital capacity: See a map of hospitals

In Santa Fe County, where the pandemic has had less of an impact with approximately 8,700 cases, Santa Fe Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center had nearly 77% of its 176 beds occupied, but only 24% of its ICU beds filled.

Results are mixed in other corners of the state. In Roswell, the Eastern New Mexico Medical Center's 81 beds saw an average of nearly 34 patients for an occupancy rate of 58.1%, while Lovelace Regional Hospital, with 34 beds, drew an average of approximately 17 patients for a rate of more than 65%. There were no ICU occupancy rates available for either facility.

At the Carlsbad Medical Center, nearly 28 of the 99 beds were filled for an average of 28.2%. The institution's ICU occupancy rate stood at 60%. Eddy County had reported nearly 5,700 cases of the virus.

The Plains Regional Medical Center in Clovis in Curry County, which has registered more than 4,600 COVID-19 cases, had more than 47 of its 121 beds occupied for a rate of 47.3%.

In Alamogordo in Otero County, the Gerald Champion Regional Medical Center had more than 50 of its 77 beds occupied for an average of approximately 66%. That facility had an ICU occupancy rate of better than 70% in a county that has registered only a little more than 2,700 cases of the virus.

More:Northern New Mexico legislators seek to address COVID-19 pandemic, homeless youth and economy

The Rehoboth McKinley Christian Health Care Services facility in Gallup had 29 of its approximately 55 beds occupied for a rate of nearly 74%. But its ICU occupancy rate was nearly 90%.

The Gallup Indian Medical Center in Gallup is a larger facility, with 99 beds, but it is an Indian Health Service facility and was not included in the survey. McKinley County, where those two institutions are located, has registered nearly 11,200 cases of the virus and continues to be the hardest-hit county in the state on a per capita basis.

Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 or measterling@daily-times.com. Support local journalism with a digital subscription.