The importance of health care in the community was the focus of the Sandoval Economic Alliance quarterly luncheon at Club Rio Rancho on Tuesday.
Administrators of the two major hospitals in Sandoval County, Presbyterian Rust Medical Center and UNM Sandoval Regional Medical Center, made presentations about their programs and progress.
Angela Ward, administrator at Presbyterian Rust, discussed overall hospital services and involvement in various local committees and outreach events. She also pointed out that Rust has made Rio Rancho birth certificates available for locally born children.
Ward reported that the majority of patients treated at Rust, which opened in 2011, are from outside of Sandoval County. She said the hospital is “doubling” its size this year and the spaces added to Rust via major construction projects are not yet fully operational.
Of six floors in the new tower that opened last fall, three are being used for in-patients. Ward says the hospital will be able to add 46 more beds next year.
Jamie Silva-Steele, president and CEO of UNM Sandoval Regional Medical Center, said SRMC is currently operating at a deficit of $6.9 million. She reported that the majority of patients, as well as 53 percent of hospital employees, are Sandoval County residents.
She described the hospital’s branding strategy and various other initiatives, including diversity campaigns and Native American outreach programs, which have proved successful.
UNM Sandoval Regional is also a teaching hospital, with heavy emphasis on training medical students. It was awarded an accreditation from the American College of Surgeons in 2014 and was voted one of the Top New Mexico Workplaces in 2016.
Ward and Silva-Steele together discussed the recent collaboration between UNM Sandoval Regional Medical Center and Presbyterian Rust as part of the Sandoval Health Collaborative, a coalition formed in 2015 to create local healthcare jobs and attract business investment.
The collaborative seeks to take advantage of the expanding health care industry and hopes to increase revenue for Sandoval County by working together with local businesses to grow the health care workforce and attract new investments.
Ward did not address a topic she discussed with the Sandoval County Commission at a meeting last month. She told the commission the hospital will seek renewal of the county’s mill levy funding, which expires this year.
The hospital operated at a loss of more than $12 million in special services last year, according to figures she presented to the commission.
“A lot of the services, without the (mill levy) support, would potentially not be able to be continued in our community,” Ward told the commission.
The mill levy is assessed against Sandoval County taxpayers to subsidize both Presbyterian Rust and UNM Sandoval Regional Medical Center.
The commission will vote later this year whether to continue to subsidize the hospitals using mill levy support.