HHS sends disaster response team to New Mexico children's hospital

HHS deployed a 14-person medical team to the University of New Mexico Children's Hospital Dec. 30 to support staff treating an influx of patients with respiratory illnesses. 

The National Disaster Medical System team consists of a team leader, an administrative specialist, a medical officer, a nurse practitioner, four registered nurses, four paramedics and two respiratory therapists. 

UNM Children's Hospital is operating at over 100 percent capacity and seeing a major strain on its emergency department amid a severe respiratory virus season. 

"The arrival of the NDMS team couldn't come at a better time," Anna Duran, MD, associate chief medical officer of the UNM Children's Hospital, said in a Dec. 30 news release. "Our staff have been working very hard to provide the highest level of care to the sickest children in our state. But our staff are tired, many of them missed the holidays with their families, and they desperately need this help."

The federal action comes about a month after HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra sent a letter to governors clarifying that healthcare organizations can use COVID-19 flexibilities and resources — including personnel from the National Disaster Medical System — to address capacity challenges stemming from a surge in patients with respiratory viruses such as flu or respiratory syncytial virus. 

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