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Some Albuquerque-area hospitals dealing with a patient surge

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Some hospitals in the Albuquerque area are taking measures to free up more space amid a surge of patients that are pushing some hospitals beyond their licensed capacity.

The University of New Mexico Hospital has opened a tent outside the emergency room to triage adult patients, the Albuquerque Journal reported Tuesday.

Doctors at some local hospitals said they are busier than they were during the past two winters, when the COVID-19 epidemic was driving up hospital admissions.

They also say respiratory syncytial virus, influenza and COVID are all fueling the rise in hospitalizations.

Physicians at Albuquerque-area hospitals held a briefing Monday morning during which they asked the public to wear masks in some settings, stay up-to-date on COVID and influenza vaccines and not to go into public when sick.

"The last couple of years, when we were masking, there was very, very little influenza, very little colds, very little RSV. So we know that masking works," Dr. Jason Mitchell, the chief medical officer at Presbyterian Healthcare Services, told the Journal.

Dr. David Scrase, the acting health secretary, issued a public health emergency order earlier this month which returned New Mexico to the "hub-and-spoke" model of patient care and made it easier for hospitals to transfer patients to different facilities around the state.

Physicians at UNMH said that at any given time, about 100 adults and 20 children are waiting for a hospital bed and they have warned people to expect long wait times in the emergency room.