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Rust hospital has big plans for the future

RIO RANCHO, N.M. — The field of medical care is changing and Presbyterian Rust Medical Center in Rio Rancho will change along with it, said campus administrator Angela Ward, as the center looks to open its new tower in less than 30 days.

Ward spoke of the center’s plans for the foreseeable future at Thursday’s NAIOP Rio Rancho Roundtable meeting at Presbyterian Rust. The meeting’s main topic, “Presbyterian – A Cornerstone to Rio Rancho’s Growth,” featured Ward’s talk about Rust, as well as a general discussion about health-care and Presbyterian’s work in Albuquerque, led by Jim Jeppson, administrator director of real estate for Presbyterian.

When Presbyterian Rust opened in 2011, the medical center was the county’s first full-service hospital. Since then, services at Rust have expanded on a measured and needed basis, Ward said.

“We’ve grown gradually, but quickly, along the lines of trying to save costs and be in alignment with all the things we need to do to remain viable,” Ward said.

The medical center has added several new services in the past fiscal year: a dedicated cardiovascular lab that treats scheduled and emergency patients from Monday to Friday; extended radiology lab service; and a comprehensive women’s ambulatory center, which includes an expanded OB/GYN clinic.

Ward said the first three floors of the new patient tower will be in use when the building opens on Dec. 2. The patient tower will have the capacity to hold 120 beds – 48 of those will be available on Day One. The expansion will include the Ted and Margaret Jorgensen Cancer Center, and will provide medical, radiology, oncology and infusion services. Ward said infusion will not be available until Dec. 15.

Presbyterian Rust has brought a number of jobs to Sandoval County, Ward said, with 856 full-time employees at the center and the new tower estimated to add over 100 new jobs.

Presbyterian locations throughout the state have had difficulties retaining medical specialists, Ward said, but Presbyterian Rust has seen the lowest turnover rate of any center. Ward said how a hospital handles a lack of specialists, as well as a changing view of health-care from patients, is a topic worth considering.

“That’s really an area that many companies in health-care are looking at,” she said. “How can we change the way we view health-care and get our citizens to be OK with receiving their care from a mid-level practitioner that’s fully able and trained and scoped to be able to take care of them? It’s a little different from the traditional model.”

Ward said non-traditional medical treatment, including online checkups, will be considered as Presbyterian moves forward.

“For those things like video visits where we can be treated for something from our phone and we don’t have to go into the doctor’s office … is the way we can free up those physicians the way that we have,” she said. “It’s safe for the patients and it’s less expensive – it’s really a win-win when we’re able to get our customers to go that direction and still feel like they were getting the great care that they received when they were seen by a physician.”