Farmington hospital sees uptick in COVID-19 patients, and most are not vaccinated

Joshua Kellogg
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON — The number of COVID-19 patients at San Juan Regional Medical Center is making it difficult for the facility to transfer patients to the hospital, as it has seen patient counts as high as 50 in recent days.

The hospital's CEO said that influx of patients makes it difficult to accept patients hoping to transfer to the hospital from outside the community, especially those who are seeking a bed and don’t need to be admitted to the ICU.

“I would say the vast majority of our hospitalized patients are unvaccinated,” San Juan Regional Medical Center CEO Jeff Bourgeois told The Daily Times, including those intubated. 

“And that goes for the vast majority of our (Intensive Care Unit),” he said.

“That's where our capacity is really restricted, and we're not able to take a lot of transfers that we might want to take,” Bourgeois said.

The hospital is, out of an abundance of caution, preparing for a large surge in the winter like in 2020. Bourgeois said the best thing the community can do is get vaccinated against COVID-19, which will have a positive impact on the hospital and the care it provides to the area.

San Juan Regional Medical Center's COVID-19 external assessment area on March 16. 2020 in Farmington.

Numbers point to more patients

While state health officials on Wednesday indicated that new case numbers statewide are beginning to plateau, figures released by San Juan Regional Medical Center show the hospital is not seeing the same trend.

For Bourgeois, the real concern is San Juan Regional’s seven-day rolling average for test positivity, which is about 17.4 percent as of Oct. 6.

FMN Jeff Bourgeois

That is the second highest rate it has been in the pandemic, below the record rate of 26.7 percent rate hospital officials saw in December.

“I think the current positivity rate suggests that we're going to continue to see more admissions in the immediate future,” Bourgeois said. “What I don't know is where that positivity rate will plateau and begin to taper off. We've not really seen that yet.

The hospital provided figures for COVID-19 patients, with San Juan Regional peaking at 50 patients on Oct. 3. 

More:San Juan County leads state in Beta, Gamma, Delta COVID-19 variants

The figures start on Aug. 1 with nine COVID-19 positive patients and ends with 41 patients on Oct. 6.

Bourgeois said the daily count of COVID-19 patients had tapered off at the end of July and early August, but it has rebounded in recent weeks with a “sharp uptick” last week.

The seven-day average case rate for San Juan County has increased in the last two months.

That rate was at 18 cases for Aug. 1, jumping to 45 cases for Sept. 1 and rests at 61 cases for Sept. 30, according to the New Mexico Department of Health.

There were 1,394 COVID-19 cases for San Juan County in September, 1,106 cases in August and 333 cases for July, according to state health department data. The first six days of October had 373 cases, more than the month of July.

More:Farmington hospital launches pediatrics COVID-19 vaccine clinic

Joshua Kellogg covers breaking news for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at

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