BERNALILLO — Another hospital mill levy is on the ballot in November, and if the voters approve it, the $43 million it will raise over eight years will allow UNM Sandoval Regional Medical Center to expand services and facilities.
It would raise taxes by about $62 a year for every $100,000 of taxable value.
This summer, SRMC CEO Jamie Silva-Steele presented an overview and background of the hospital to the Sandoval County Commission, which eventually voted to put the item on the ballot.
“We have been, since March, engaged with many stakeholders in the community to talk about the strategy of bringing back a potential vote for a mill levy,” she said.
According to Silva-Steele, polling and research was done to help SRMC learn how a mill levy would feel to county residents.
“Our research found that 70 percent out of 600 people polled were in favor of this mill levy,” she said. “This is why we are here to give this presentation today.”
Sandoval County voters initially approved a mill levy for SRMC and Presbyterian Rust Medical Center in 2008.
In 2016, the commission put the second mill levy for SRMC and Presbyterian Rust Medical Center on the ballot.
“The outcome, as we know, of the mill levy was not successful,” Silva-Steele said. “And unfortunately in February of 2017, we closed our (behavioral health) unit because we were unable to sustain the operation. We went through a reduction in force, and we also had to reset our strategic plan.”
In 2016, she said, SRMC was looking at expanding, but without the mill levy, those plans were put on hold.
“We started with 72 beds; we are now a 60-bed inpatient facility,” Silva-Steele said. “We have 48 (medical) surgery beds, we have 12 ICU (intensive care unit) beds…we have 13 emergency room bays, six operating rooms with special procedures, interventional radiology, plus a full radiology suite and sleep study center.”
This over-26,000-square-foot facility has 505 employees with an approximate payroll of $38 million with benefits.
“The Health Sciences Center … has a three-part mission of providing clinical care, providing all of the academic teaching and the research,” Silva-Steele said.
The Health Sciences Center took over UNM West two years ago. Since then, the campus’s curriculum has changed from a collection of undergrad prerequisites to health-sciences classes.
“Obviously with moving in higher-education courses, we start to talk about a new feel for the campus,” she said.
There are five programs planned for this fall semester in conjunction with Central New Mexico Community College.
Scheduled to start this month are the medical assistant community health worker training site (to be located at CNM), main campus pre-health pre-requisites, the Center of Excellence for Interdisciplinary Behavioral Health Care and Education, a college of nursing cohort and in the center of these four programs, the college of population health New Mexico TREE center.
“What we are trying to do here is align the pre-health pre-requisites that a nursing student, a pharmacy student, a dental hygienist, may need as part of their training in their bachelor’s studies,” she said.
Silva-Steele said SRMC’s vision is to create a regional educational training hub near City Center, focusing on health sciences and wellness and prevention initiatives that will permeate the community.
“We’ve also talked with the city about a potential new senior center,” she said. “There are four sites being considered and that is one of the places a senior center could come up in Rio Rancho.”
Other items Silva-Steele took into consideration for the revamping of the campus and City Center included transportation, private industry and available infrastructure.
“One of things we are working on right now is the extension of Broadmoor (Boulevard) onto our campus, and a linear park that starts to create connectedness between the hospital and UNM West in City Center and really starts to be the catalyst for how we see things starting and growing in the community,” she said.
This plan includes things put on hold in 2016, she said, that SRMC wants to see finished with a possible mill levy.
“These are things that are near and dear to our hearts, that are part of our mission as a university and particularly as a health sciences center, and things we feel are critical when it comes to access to care in the community,” she said.
Silva-Steele said numbers indicate SRMC serves several counties, not just Sandoval County.
“Our largest volume of patients is Sandoval County, with 56 percent by volume,” she said.
Bernalillo County was second with 33 percent and all other counties added up to 11 percent, she said.
“We’ve talked about these patients’ families coming into our county for extended lengths of time,” Silva-Steele said. “They spent money here; they stay sometimes for days.”
The surgical specialties SRMC provides, she said, have made the hospital a destination.