UNMH CEO describes pandemic’s strain - Albuquerque Journal

UNMH CEO describes pandemic’s strain

Kate Becker

University of New Mexico Hospitals CEO Kate Becker remembers a time late last year when the hospital was overrun with COVID-19 patients.

It was in November and December, around the time of the state’s deadliest surge of the pandemic.

“We converted our urgent care to in-patient spaces. We converted our science clinic to in-patient spaces. We shut down (operating rooms) and made those into (intensive care units),” Becker said while addressing the Economic Forum of Albuquerque Wednesday morning. “We adapted dramatically in terms of staffing, space and equipment across the entire platform. … It was a heroic effort, and there is no other word for it.”

Becker said the past year has put tremendous strain on UNMH’s resources.

COVID-19 patients are sicker than other patients in general, and require more intense care. Meanwhile, the hospital is still seeing the impact of patients who put off various health care needs during the pandemic. Becker said an average “case mix index” — a measure of how sick patients are — is 1.0. Over the last six months, though, UNM’s case mix index has been over 2.3.

“That is the highest it’s ever been in the history of this hospital. And we always take care of really sick people,” Becker said. “… Patients are really sick.”

Becker said the pandemic has been trying for UNMH staff working with patients.

“The emotional toll of having no visitors in the hospital, no family members in the hospital, means our staff was the family members for these patients,” Becker said. “And that is emotionally really hard.”

Becker said UNMH has also marked significant progress during the past year. The mass vaccination clinic at The Pit had delivered 51,465 doses of vaccine as of Tuesday. Financing is underway for the long-planned UNMH hospital tower, which will house an adult emergency department, operating rooms and 96 intensive care unit beds and other facilities under a single roof.

“It’s really necessary, because even before COVID, we were full,” she said. “During COVID, we were beyond full.”

The hospital stepped up its virtual visits last year, a trend Becker said was accelerated by the pandemic but will likely be here to stay. Becker said the hospital also tried to step up its employee support through peer support programs and other services.

Home » Business » Health Care » UNMH CEO describes pandemic’s strain

Insert Question Legislature form in Legis only stories

Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

ABQjournal can get you answers in all pages


Questions about the Legislature?
Albuquerque Journal can get you answers
Email addresses are used solely for verification and to speed the verification process for repeat questioners.
Executive order authorizes up to $100,000 in state funding ...
ABQnews Seeker
With Farmington still reeling from a ... With Farmington still reeling from a daytime mass shooting last month that left four people dead, Lt. Gov. Howie Morales has signed an executive ...
Bryan Cranston not retiring, will hit 'reset' on career ...
ABQnews Seeker
Bryan Cranston is setting the record ... Bryan Cranston is setting the record straight. On Thursday, it was reported that he is retiring from acting in 2026. The award-winning 'Breaking Bad' ...
Man found shot to death inside vehicle near Uptown
ABQnews Seeker
Police found a man who had ... Police found a man who had been fatally shot in a vehicle outside a park in Northeast Albuquerque.
Paseo eastbound, Friday Morning crash causes delays
ABQnews Seeker
A crash on Paseo Del Norte ... A crash on Paseo Del Norte NE, eastbound near the Interstate 25 south on-ramp has closed the right lane.
New Mexico Finance Authority launches program to rehabilitate homes
ABQnews Seeker
New Mexico Finance Authority launches ... New Mexico Finance Authority launches program to rehabilitate homes.
DeSantis recruiters eyed Catholic church for migrant flights that ...
ABQnews Seeker
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Florida Gov. ... SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' recruiters set their sights on Sacred Heart Catholic Church in the Texas border city of El ...
Vara bringing a taste of Spain with its Tinto ...
ABQnews Seeker
The 2020 vintage of Tinto Especial ... The 2020 vintage of Tinto Especial focuses on Spanish influences from the Catalonia region.
Singer-songwriter Logan Ledger to open for Vincent Neil Emerson
ABQnews Seeker
Logan Ledger's upcoming album, "Golden State" ... Logan Ledger's upcoming album, "Golden State" is due out on Sept. 8, but he's hitting the road opening for Vincent Neil Emerson.
Colorado's most destructive wildfire caused by embers from old ...
ABQnews Seeker
BOULDER, Colo. (AP) -- Embers from ... BOULDER, Colo. (AP) -- Embers from a smoldering scrap wood fire set days earlier outside a home used by a Christian religious communal group ...