With ICUs Full, New Mexico Could Soon Ration Care

Aug 25, 2021

State health officials announced Wednesday, Aug. 25, that as COVID-19 cases continue to spike, New Mexico has an unprecedented waiting list for ICU beds and that the state is on the brink of having to ration care. 

Acting New Mexico Health Secretary Dr. David Scrase says that, with hospitals full, the state is likely to reach crisis standards of care within the next week. 

“We're going to have to choose who gets care who doesn't get care,” he said, “and we do not want to get to that point.”

Scrase said there is an unprecedented 50-person waiting list for ICU beds across the state.

“These are just the kind of people you imagine who need an ICU bed, and they need it now and we don't have that capacity."

He said the state is moving patients to where there are beds, but most ICUs have no capacity, with a few having only 3-5 beds available. 

“It's going to be very uncomfortable the next two weeks for folks needing hospital care in New Mexico,” he said.

Scrase pointed to staffing shortages as part of why the state’s hospitals have reached capacity quicker than in December, when crisis standards of care were last activated and the state came close to rationing care. The secretary also said the hospitals are seeing sicker patients than last year, which may be a result of delaying care during the pandemic.