Three Rio Rancho medical center officials laid out how they weathered the storm caused by COVID-19, as well as ways they’re expanding their operations coming out of the pandemic.

UNM Sandoval Regional Medical Center

ClearSky Rehabilitation Hospital CEO Shawn Wilburn, UNM Sandoval Regional Medical Center Chief Operating Officer Pam Demarest and Presbyterian Rust Medical Center Chief Hospital Executive Angela Ward all gave quick rundowns on hospital data and pertinent medical services — including physical therapy and speech therapy — during Thursday’s Zoom webinar, which was conducted by Sandoval Economic Alliance. The trio also reiterated steps taken to bolster vaccinations and expand services.
Wilburn said CSR, which allows patients — typically in the 47-90 age range — to continue in-patient physical rehab closer to home and see family members, had to limit patient and visitor capacities and monitor patients for 24 hours before letting them roam around the facility. He said all staff, patients and visitors were required to wear personal protective equipment during the pandemic.
Ward said Presbyterian Rust saw 50 to 65 percent of its patients being COVID-positive between November 2020 and January 2021, adding that outpatient providers transitioned to video calls with patients to help curb fears of coming to the clinic.
Ward said Rust admitted 2,000 COVID patients and saw 300 deaths, but 1,700 COVID patients were discharged. She also said the hospital “created and dismantled” its COVID containment unit and expanded treatment spaces.
Demarest said the 12-bed intensive care unit at SRMC doubled as a COVID-19 unit.
The hospital coordinated with the City of Rio Rancho, Sandoval County and New Mexico Department of Health to put together vaccination clinics at the Rio Rancho Events Center so that people can get them quicker.

The next steps
Entering the second half of 2021, Demarest said SRMC will prioritize the Level 3 trauma unit and behavioral health services, as well as the development of a crisis intervention program working alongside the county and local police departments.
Demarest also said SRMC is looking to establish another primary care clinic in the community later this summer.
Wilburn said plans to build two or three more rehabilitation facilities are in the works to help alleviate the number of emergency room visits. He also said CSR invested $1.2 million over the last couple years to rebuild the building structure at its location on Westside Boulevard.
Ward said Rust expanded from having 89 beds to 213 beds. Its second physician office building is opening this week.

Matt Hollinshead | Staff writer