2 Albuquerque hospitals had 50+ people waiting in each facility for a hospital bed

By Stella Sun

    ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico (KOAT) -- With 678 patients in New Mexico hospitals as of Wednesday, some are being forced to wait hours to get treatment.

Doctors said it's a scary situation.

"The number of open beds is very, very seriously low," Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. David Scrase said.

More and more New Mexicans showing up in the emergency room.

"Two of our hospitals in Albuquerque — one had 65 people waiting in the emergency room for quite some time to get a bed. Another had 90 people waiting," Scrase said.

He wouldn't tell KOAT which two hospitals are experiencing unsustainable patient numbers, but he did mention the larger, metro area hospitals are seeing the worst of it.

Doctors said the influx of patients who delayed care are coming in sicker and take longer for them to recover. They said this, along with COVID patients and overwhelmed staff are contributing to long wait times.

"Over the last couple of weeks, we've hit record numbers," Mike Richards with the University of New Mexico Hospital said. "Our capacity was at 156% above normal licensed operating capacity."

This week, UNM hospital changing surgeries for many New Mexicans.

"We've moved to the level where we're doing surgeries on patients that require surgery within two weeks," Richards said. "With patients who can wait longer than two weeks we're postponing their care."

Doctors said they don't want this information to prevent you from going to the doctor. If something doesn't feel right, they said go see your physician.

"We still want people who need health care to seek it," Richards said.

The state and federal government have brought in more than 300 traveling nurses, respiratory therapists and doctors to help the situation. In the coming weeks, they will request 200 more. The traveling medical workers are being paid through federal aid money.

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