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Health providers prepared but need public’s help

With COVID-19, our world is experiencing a health crisis unlike any other. Here in New Mexico, more than 25,000 health care professionals have drilled and prepared for this moment. But we also hoped it would never come.

Now, Presbyterian, UNM Health and Lovelace, in collaboration with state officials, are pulling together to address this crisis. It is only through unified, thoughtful, precise action that we can make the most of our limited resources and ensure New Mexicans stay safe

Presbyterian, UNM Health and Lovelace have each engaged in extensive planning as we anticipate a surge in patients needing access to critical services. Our commitment to the community is to use every resource possible to meet the care needs of our fellow New Mexicans.

What does collaboration look like? Daily phone calls, frequent Zoom meetings with state officials and coordinated capacity planning efforts with health care leaders across the state. Every day we are looking at how to add as many ICU beds as possible while preserving quality care. We are buying and renting additional ventilators. We are flexing clinical positions to expand our critical-care workforce. We are reaching out to supply vendors to stockpile respirators, masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) for our teams.

We have plans in place to repurpose procedure recovery areas and operating suites. We also have outdoor triage tents available if they become necessary.

We are doing everything we can, across our systems, to prepare to serve our community at its most vulnerable time. But we cannot do this alone. We need your help.

Simply put: please stay home. Yes, please practice proper hand hygiene and social distancing as well. But, without our entire state’s commitment to staying home, we put our loved ones at risk. Our health systems can make plans to add staff, beds, equipment and supplies – but without the community’s cooperation, we will not be able to serve every patient that needs help overcoming COVID-19.

We thank you for supporting the changes we have already made. Each of our systems no longer allows visitors to hospital campuses except under extenuating circumstances. This doesn’t make it easy for patients or their loved ones, but it protects our workforce and patients.

We have canceled elective procedures and are asking patients to visit with their provider via telephone or webcam visits where appropriate instead of face-to-face. We know these changes can cause anxiety in the midst of an already stressful time, and we encourage the community to find help when needed – whether through a text therapy app, a call to the crisis line or a video visit with a mental health provider.

At this time of uncertainty and fear about the health of our loved ones, many people are seeking information to help understand the complexities of this virus. We encourage our community to seek information from reputable sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the New Mexico Department of Health.

Remember numbers do not tell the whole story. As we make plans for how we can shoulder this burden together, ICU beds or respirator counts at one facility may be less important than what we can do together.

It is the strength of our communities that make our state a great one – one that can be a standard-bearer for meeting the challenge of COVID-19. We’ve experienced it in countless donations of masks and respirators from local businesses, the creative and touching cards we receive from children and the outpouring of support via social media, yard signs and Christmas lights reminding our frontline teams the community is doing its part to keep them safe.

We are #alltogetherNM, and we will fight with you to overcome this crisis.

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