Heads of NM hospitals: Now is the time for New Mexicans to buckle down

While COVID-19 cases continue to increase in New Mexico and record-breaking number of infections happen multiple times a week, chief medical officers from the state’s three major medical providers are urging residents to work together to lower those numbers. 

During a news briefing on Monday, the chief medical officers of Lovelace Health System, Presbyterian Healthcare Services and the University of New Mexico Health System all stressed that the state can still lower the number of daily cases with some work. But without putting in that work, they said, New Mexico could see catastrophic impacts. 

DOJ refers criminal accusations by Pearce on fetal tissue donations to FBI

Anti-abortion activists praised the U.S. Department of Justice for sending several criminal referrals to the FBI with allegations that the University of New Mexico Hospital and Southwest Women’s Options conducted illegal activities related to fetal tissue donations. In a letter last week, Assistant U.S. Attorney General Stephen Boyd addressed concerns U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce raised in September. Pearce is New Mexico’s lone Republican member of the delegation. “This is a serious matter, and the Department takes these referrals seriously,” Boyd wrote to the congressman. “The Department has brought each of these referrals to the attention of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for review and any appropriate follow-up action.”

The issue goes back to a 2015 video that allegedly showed that Planned Parenthood profited from the sale of fetal tissue.

Staffing levels could hurt accreditation, nurses union warns

The head of a local nurses union said she plans to raise concerns about staffing issues at the University of New Mexico Hospital to the accreditation agency that rates medical institutions. In a letter written Monday to hospital officials, National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees District 1199 President Lorie MacIver accuses top brass at UNMH of “failure to at least engage in a real and serious discussion hospital-wide about staffing.”

This reasoning, MacIver writes, is enough “to inform you that we will be writing to the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) requesting that they review UNMH’s ‘commitment to creating a positive nursing practice environment’ to ensure the commitment is real.’”

She adds writing to ANCC is also an attempt to make sure “we don’t experience what happened when UNM’s Department of Dermatology lost its accreditation due to failures of the Health Sciences Center,” which oversees the hospital. As NM Political Report first reported in April, UNM’s Department of Dermatology lost its accreditation after what a university spokesman described as “loss of faculty over the past year in a highly competitive national environment.”

MacIver argued that retention issues in the hospital’s nursing staff could lead to the same problems at the hospital. “We’re hoping to open a dialogue with the hospital to say, ‘You’ve got serious issues,’” MacIver said in an interview. “Maybe it will take the credentialing people to say, ‘We need you to address the issues we have.’”

UNMH is currently seeking Magnet Recognition Program status, which is the most prestigious form of recognition that ANCC offers.

UNM Hospital will see biggest Medicaid cuts

News that the state Human Services Department is planning to cut between $26 million and $33.5 million through how much the state pays for Medicaid provider payment rates filled healthcare advocates with grief, if not surprise, this week. It’s how the state agency is saving the biggest cuts—which will affect Medicaid payment rates for doctors, hospitals and dentists—for New Mexico’s biggest hospital that’s causing the most controversy in some circles. By this July, the state plans on cutting Medicaid payments at the University of New Mexico Hospital (UNMH) to inpatient services by 8 percent and outpatient services by 5 percent. That’s bigger than the 5 percent inpatient and 3 percent outpatient Medicaid cuts that the rest of the hospitals in the state will see. Lorie MacIver, a UNMH nurse and president of District 1199 of the National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees, says the cuts will disproportionately hurt UNMH patients because the hospital is the only Level 1 trauma center in New Mexico equipped to treat the most serious injuries and health conditions.