The University of New Mexico will hold a series of town hall meetings next week to gather public input on a proposed $146-million hospital in Albuquerque. The 96-bed adult-care facility was put on hold on Sept. 18 to allow for more public input as some groups in the community have expressed concerns.

Image courtesy UNM
The six-story hospital will house 96 beds within 195,000 sq ft of space. A future phase will add a two-story, 65,000-sq-ft medical office building.

UNM Health Sciences Center (HSC) and UNM Hospital officials say the new six-story hospital, to be located west of University Boulevard along Camino de Salud near UNM’s Cancer Center., is sorely needed to relieve overcrowding and a shortage of beds. Some patients have had to wait up to 36 hours for a hospital bed, says hospital spokesman Billy Sparks. UNM Hospital averages over 90% capacity, much higher than the recommended 75% average capacity.

Some community groups have criticized the new hospital, such as the Rio Grande Foundation, a think tank advocating small government in Albuquerque, saying that UNM and other not-for-profit hospitals should be subject to greater oversight and transparency due to the amount of taxpayer money it receives. 

Already approved by the UNM Board of Regents and the State Dept. of Higher Education, the hospital’s final approval by the State Board of Finance—originally scheduled for September—was moved to October 16 in order to accommodate the public forums.

“HSC has known this day would come and has planned accordingly,” Sparks says in a statement. “The public Town Halls will let us hear the additional comments and concerns of the community as part of our ongoing commitment…to maintain transparency and respond to the community.”

The new 195,000-sq-ft hospital will include six operating rooms, radiology and laboratory services, respiratory therapy and support services. UNM has already selected Albuquerque-based Dekker/Perich/Sabatini as the architect, and the joint venture of Bradbury Stamm Construction, Albuquerque, and Hunt Construction Group, Scottsdale, Ariz., as the construction manager at risk. Future phases will add a two-story, 65,000-sq-ft medical office building to house an eye and cardiovascular clinics. 

Subcontractor bids were due Sept. 24th for the structural steel-framed building, according to McGraw-Hill Construction Dodge. The project’s budget includes more than $22 million on the mechanical and plumbing systems, $15 million for electrical and nearly $5 million for voice, data and other special systems, according to information released by HSC’s Capital Initiative Fund. Moveable hospital equipment accounts for just over $20 million of the budget.

UNMH Town Hall Dates & Times

October 2, 6-7:30 p.m. – Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, 2401 12th Street NW, ChacoI and II, Albuquerque

October 3, 6-7:30 p.m. – Jewish Community Center, 5520 Wyoming Blvd. NE, Auditorium A, Albuquerque

October 4, 6-7:30 p.m. – Alamosa Community Center, 6900 Gonzales Rd SW, Room A, Albuquerque