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SRMC establishing its medical, academic role

RIO RANCHO, N.M. — The University of New Mexico Sandoval Regional Medical Center continues to make strides toward becoming an academic and medical destination in the county and across the state, hospital officials told the Sandoval County Commission at a meeting Thursday evening.

The center, which opened in July 2012, has seen increases in the number of patients served, emergency room visits, specialty clinic visits and operations over the past fiscal year, and it has received national accreditations for sleep disorders, and metabolic and bariatric surgery, among other accomplishments.

Officials also said that the center has had a positive economic impact on the area, including benefits and compensation to the center’s employees exceeding $28 million.

“We’re very proud of the work done in the facility,” said Jamie Silva-Steele, the medical center’s president and CEO.

The center saw an increase of about 800 more emergency room visits between January and the end of August this year compared with the same time period last year, according to Silva-Steele’s presentation.

But Silva-Steele also said the center still has work to do, especially in the areas of community education and in its academic mission of training future medical professionals attending UNM. Center officials met recently with the education director of the Santa Ana Pueblo, the first in a series of meetings aimed at getting kids interested in health care and jobs in the medical field.

The center also hopes to host a series of quarterly meetings with patients, community members and others to act as a “sounding board” for feedback on the center’s operations and impact on the area.

The center earned Joint Commission Accreditation in August and was the first hospital in the state to get full accreditation as a “comprehensive” center from the American College of Surgeon’s Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program. The center deals with a high number of morbidly obese patients, Silva-Steele said.

The medical center’s Sleep Disorders Center also passed the American Academy of Sleep Medicine accreditation process without having to make any additional changes, which was the case for only about 5 percent of national centers surveyed, Silva-Steele said.

Commissioner Glenn Walters asked about whether the center would soon be equipped as a Level 3 trauma center, which the medical center had hoped for when it opened.

Silva-Steele said the only remaining hurdle is the lack of surgeons who live within 30 minutes of the center – a requirement that must be met before hospitals can perform emergency resuscitation, surgery and intensive care.

They hope to meet that requirement by March 15, Silva-Steele said, but much depends on whether they can recruit nearby surgeons.