UNM Health pauses vaccinations at The Pit because of low supply

Highlighting the nationwide shortage of COVID-19 vaccines, University of New Mexico Health System announced it would pause its mass vaccination location at The Pit in Albuquerque because of a lack of supplies. UNM said it would focus its supply on providing a second shot to those who already received their first dose. The state said it expected to receive more vaccinations in the coming weeks and be able to do more vaccinations than it has so far. Both vaccines currently approved for use in the United States, one by Moderna and one by Pfizer, require a second shot weeks after the first for its full effectiveness. “I really want to stress that The Pit will be a vaccination clinic in the future,” UNM Health Sciences Public Information Officer Alex Sanchez said in a press call on Friday.

UNM, UnitedHealth part ways on Medicaid contract

About 2,000 UnitedHealthcare of New Mexico Medicaid patients who get their care at the University of New Mexico Hospital will have to find new providers as UNM said Tuesday that it has been unable to reach an agreement with United to serve those patients. Those patients will have to find new doctors by the end of the month, as the contract between UNMH and United expires on June 30. “Beginning next month, UnitedHealthcare Centennial Care members will no longer be covered for elective services from UNM hospitals, clinics and physicians, including primary care doctor visits, specialist visits, and non-emergency surgeries and medical tests,” UNMH said in a news release

“While we were unable to reach an agreement with UnitedHealthcare in this challenging financial environment, UNM remains committed to providing our patients with access to the best care and service,” said Dr. Michael Richards, physician-in-chief for UNM Health System. “We are doing everything we can to minimize any disruption for patients. United is one of four insurers who are part of the state’s $4 billion Medicaid, or Centennial Care program.

Are HSC’s big cash reserves behind the takeover?

A sudden overhaul in governance of the state’s largest public medical institution has left several people questioning the motivations behind the changes and its aftermath. One such skeptic is Mel Eaves, a now-former community member of the board of directors that made recommendations on the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center. HSC operates the university’s medical school, nursing school, two hospitals and the cancer center. This piece also appears in the March 23 edition of the ABQ Free Press. To Eaves, the motivation for the overhaul stems from other entities wanting a piece of HSC’s $220 million sitting in reserves, earmarked in part for the construction of a new hospital to replace the campus’s current adult hospital, which was built in the 1950s.