A new type of healthcare facility has opened on Albuquerque’s West Side, and the founders are optimistic that it will help patients spend less time in waiting rooms and more time talking with doctors.
Albuquerque ER & Hospital opened its doors about six weeks ago at 9310 Coors Boulevard NW. In addition to providing healthcare to a comparatively underserved part of the city, the facility is New Mexico’s first “micro-hospital,” bringing most of the facilities associated with a large hospital into a building that’s a fraction of the size.
Dr. Sanjay Kholwadwala, CEO of the facility, said the new approach allows it to dramatically cut wait times and increase the amount of time doctors and nurses can spend with individual patients.
“People feel that this is something different,” Kholwadwala said.
Micro-hospitals may be novel in New Mexico, but they’ve begun establishing a foothold in other parts of the country. New, smaller facilities have cropped up in neighboring states like Arizona, Colorado and Texas in recent years, as a way to augment existing medical facilities in urban and suburban areas.
Houston-based Nutex Health Inc. is the organization behind the new 16,000-square-foot Albuquerque operation.
Despite several recently announced hospital expansions elsewhere in Albuquerque, Megan DeTemple, chief operating officer of the micro-hospital, said the healthcare company settled on Albuquerque because of the city’s and state’s relative shortage of hospital beds.
“New Mexico is a really underserved community in regards to healthcare,” DeTemple said.
Misti Melendez, director of marketing for Albuquerque ER & Hospital, said the facility costs less for patients than visits to larger emergency rooms, though considerably more than a trip to an urgent care clinic. She added that it accepts all forms of private insurance, but not Medicare, Medicaid or TriCare.
Melendez said the hospital treats all visits as emergency care, which she said isn’t subject to higher co-payments.
Presbyterian said it is possible additional fees would apply for patients enrolled in its health plans who use Albuquerque ER & Hospital.
Albuquerque ER & Hospital said there would not be additional fees.
Customers can get a clear cost quote from hospital employees who will discuss insurance and self-payment options upon arrival, Melendez said.
Kholwadwala said the facility has seven emergency room beds, along with four inpatient beds. The small size has allowed the hospital to maintain a nurse-to-patient ratio that’s roughly half of what other Albuquerque hospitals can boast, letting healthcare providers spend more time with patients. Kholwadwala said
On average, Kholwadwala said the hospital sees 10 to 11 patients per day, though he added the hospital would like to get that total above 20.
He said the hospital has worked with local schools to offer discounted physicals, with the proceeds being returned to the schools.
“We want to be part of this community,” he said.