RIO ARRIBA DONATES BEDS FOR COVID-19 RESPONSE

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For Immediate Release: April 9,  2020

ESPANOLA, NM – Rio Arriba County provided desperately needed hospital beds to both the primary county hospital, Presbyterian in Espanola, as well as Taos County for use at Holy Cross Hospital. Due to the rising demand for beds for the Covid-19 response, local hospitals in both Rio Arriba and Taos counties have been struggling to expand capacity and access much needed equipment like hospital beds. Delivery of thirty four (34) beds to Presbyterian Hospital started today. Twenty (20) beds were delivered yesterday to Taos County primarily for use at Holy Cross Hospital.

Rio Arriba County identified eighty-two (82) nursing home beds were available for the County’s Covid-19 response. These originated from the former Espanola Valley Nursing Home, a facility the County purchased just over a year ago and is currently converting into a behavioral health facility to be run by Darren’s Place. According to projected needs, both Counties will be covered by the donation. Current case numbers show, as of April 8, that Rio Arriba has seven (7) confirmed cases, while Taos has double that at a total of fourteen (14). Projections are determined in coordination with the State Department of Health, Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the County’s Emergency Response Chief and Health and Human Services Director and local hospitals.

Commission Chair Leo Jaramillo noted, “Coming together as a community and good neighbor to save lives and support one another in every way we can is what this is all about.” Rio Arriba County Manager, Thomas Campos, whose role is to advance quality of life initiatives and ensure professional and quality government services highlighted, “This virus does not respect boundaries. It’s going to take collaboration and support from multiple stakeholders to ultimately overcome this, which is why we’re sharing these beds both with our local hospital and Taos. Of course, we’ve retained enough beds to meet our needs and kept extras just in case.”

Multiple stakeholders came together to make the bed donations happen for both counties. Once the Rio Arriba had inventoried its equipment, it made it known to local medical facilities that it had hospital grade beds available. Immediately, discussions began with Presbyterian Hospital in Espanola to transfer the much needed beds. However, with a stockpile of eighty-two (82), the available beds were well-above what Presbyterian required.  Holy Cross Hospital in Taos reached out to Rio Arriba to ask for beds, which quickly led to discussions with Taos County. In accordance with the State’s anti-donation clause, working on a county-to-county basis allowed for a work around to transfer the extra beds.

“There was an incredible level of collaboration required to pull this off. I’d like to extend my heartfelt thanks to everyone who played a part in this important effort including HELP New Mexico, Darren’s Place, AMP and ETS and the town of Taos to name a few,” said Chris Madrid, the County’s Economic Development Director who coordinated the effort.  HELP NM assisted with the equipment inventory, while AMP and ETS, production companies used by Taos County in their concerts, assisted with the transport.  Darren’s Place supported the use of the equipment and had their staff assist with loading.

The facility itself, which as a former nursing home was set-up with medical applications in mind, has been explored by the Army Corps of Engineers and State as a potential field hospital.  “This is another example of how our agencies are working together to solve critical issues that are arising from the crisis,” County Emergency Chief, Alfredo Montoya commented.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Q: What about our County’s needs? With this increased capacity for both general and ICU beds at Presbyterian Hospital the County will be adequately equipped to meet both current and projected needs. Face masks continue to be needed and county residents are encouraged to join in the community effort by contributing their time and efforts to sew or 3D print masks, donate funds or materials, and help with deliveries. More information is available here:

Q: How will this help? This type of assistance is life-saving in a time of critical need. Taos County, with roughly double the amount of Covid-19 infections requires more beds to meet their immediate needs. Taos also has more than a 97 percent likelihood that a sustained, undetected outbreak — an epidemic — is already taking place (Source: University of Texas at Austin). As such, Taos is experiencing a much greater need for beds than Rio Arriba County at this time.

Q: What’s the anticipated need of hospital beds for Rio Arriba County?  The anticipated need of beds for Presbyterian Hospital, the main hospital serving the county, has now been met thanks to the additional beds donated by the County. This brings a total of 18 ICU beds and 34 additional general beds for peak hospital usage, up from 2 ICU and an undetermined number of general beds. Additionally, the County has a reserve of beds that are being kept as a contingency for any unanticipated surges.

Q: Does this affect our ability to respond to our needs? Needed additional beds have been provided to our main hospital. Additionally, the County has kept a reserve supply of beds for our anticipated needs. As such, the County is ensuring our needs are met.

FACE MASKS

In the midst of all this, the County’s face mask sewing project has continued to expand, meeting another area of critical need. Lauren Reichelt, Director of Health and Human Services for the County noted, “I’d really like to thank all the volunteer seamsters and all those using 3D printers for face shields and N95 masks. We have multiple volunteers contributing, as well as different groups. The outpouring has been tremendous. It really has impacted our capacity. It looks like we have the ability to produce about a hundred fourty (140) N95 masks and around two to three hundred (200-300) general masks a day essential service providers. These masks will protect from further spread, which is what we most need right now.”

CELEBRATING SPRING & ESSENTIAL SERVICE PROVIDERS

Now that the annual pilgrimage to Chimayo has been closed down and the traditional car parades are hampered by the social distancing mandates the County is recommending alternate means of celebration.  “We can show thanks to our providers and celebrate this holiday by putting up lights, any lights would work” said Riechelt. The county is asking that pictures of light displays be posted on social media or sent to LMReichelt@rio-arriba.org for the county to post on their pages.

For more information on the hospital beds contact:

For more information on face masks and case management:

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