Home News COVID-19 Situation NM Rehabilitation Center prepares for COVID-19 role

NM Rehabilitation Center prepares for COVID-19 role

Lisa Dunlap Photo The state-operated New Mexico Rehabilitation Center and its medical staff on Gail Harris Street are prepared to assist in caring for COVID-19 patients if the need arises, says Administrator Jose Gurrola.

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A state-operated hospital and medical facility in Roswell is prepared to work with the other two hospitals in the city as needed to care for COVID-19 patients, its administrator said.

The New Mexico Rehabilitation Center, a New Mexico Department of Health facility located on Gail Harris Street near the Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell campus, typically provides what Administrator Jose Gurrola calls its “branded services” — medical rehabilitation for people recovering from accidents, injury or illness; and in-patient, medical detox and outpatient care for people overcoming chemical substance abuse.

The center has about 31 total beds, plus its outpatient facilities. ENMMC has 162 beds, while Lovelace Regional has 27 licensed beds, according to those organization’s websites.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham also has indicated that other Roswell facilities — such as the National Guard Armory or the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Academy buildings — could be used as care facilities if patient numbers surge in the region.

Gurrola said that he and senior administrators with Lovelace Regional Hospital and Eastern New Mexico Medical Center are working together to come up with solutions should the numbers of local COVID-19 patients needing hospital care become significant.

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“It is really difficult to give clear, definitive roles at this point,” Gurrola said. “We are watching our cases carefully in each community, state and nation that continue to climb and projecting where things may lead in the future.”

Gurrola expressed confidence in the New Mexico Department of Health and the three hospitals to deal with the health crisis.

The New Mexico Department of Health identifies diagnosed COVID-19 cases only by county, not city.

As of Thursday afternoon, Chaves County had 13 people who had tested positive, but whether those people are hospitalized is not released publicly. Statewide, 34 people are now hospitalized in New Mexico, which could include people who were diagnosed in other states but hospitalized here.

Gurrola said the rehabilitation center has COVID-19 testing capability but has not had a COVID-19 patient or a staff member. He added that the rehabilitation center has instituted special precautions to guard against infections, including “enhanced pre-screening” of patients as they are admitted.

The specific way in which the rehabilitation center will assist the other hospitals — whether by providing beds for patients or supplying medical staff to work elsewhere — can only be determined if the need arises, he said.

“We are in uncharted territory right now,” said Gurrola, “but we are trying to figure out the next steps that we need to serve the community.”

Should extra beds be needed, he said, he anticipates that the rehabilitation center probably would care for “post-ventilator” COVID-19 patients.

He said all three hospital managers are also working together on medical staffing needs and ensuring that Roswell personnel have enough personal protection equipment to stay healthy during this time.

According to the World Health Organization website, many people diagnosed with COVID-19 have mild to moderate symptoms and some are asymptomatic. WHO estimates that one out of six people is at risk of developing serious complications, with older people and those considered to have other serious illnesses in higher-risk categories. It also indicates that 80% of COVID-19 patients recover without needing special medical care.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.


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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.