Saturday of Easter weekend is day 30* for New Mexico’s COVID-19 battle. In the Christian tradition, it is that silent Saturday between the defeat of Good Friday and the victory of Easter Sunday. In our state response, I find myself quiet and reflective, and relatively at peace. How could that be in the midst of our biggest healthcare challenge in a century? As I reflect on New Mexico’s preparedness, I am struck by the unity of effort in our healthcare system and in our state. And it bears out in the data – it IS making a difference.
HERE ARE THREE THINGS NEW MEXICO DID EARLY THAT ARE PAYING OFF:
- Day Zero (3/11) – with 2 cases in the state: The three largest health systems in the state, UNM, Presbyterian and Lovelace, had all established incident command for more than one week. The Governor declared a state public health emergency, pulled the Secretary of Human Services to the role of Deputy Secretary of Health, and pulled the largest health systems into a Medical Advisory Team (MAT). Presbyterian Health Plan became the state’s Covid-19 screening line through its Nurse Advice Line capability. And within 5 days, Lovelace and Presbyterian established state drive-thru testing capabilities. From the beginning, unity of effort was the guiding principle.
- Day Ten (3/21) – with 45 cases in the state: Unity of Effort became an embedded command. Realizing the need for unified planning, Department of Health, Medical Advisory Teams, UNM and Lovelace physically embedded in the Presbyterian administrative center that had been emptied for social distancing. The three health systems agreed to a central triage and bed control to command all critical care resources across the three systems. They formed a Hospital and Health System Advisory Team that, together with the Hospital Association, organized a hub and spoke referral system for hospitals across the state and confirmed and pushed on the state’s hospital surge capacity plans.