Holy Cross closed to visitors


Holy Cross Medical Center closed its doors to visitors beginning Saturday (March 28) in an effort to prevent the spread of a deadly coronavirus that causes the COVID-19 illness.

The only exception will be if a visitor is needed to calm a patient such as a parent to help with their child, according to information from hospital administrators.

"We are working to keep as much of the building free of the virus as we can," said hospital CEO Bill Patten regarding the decision. "By being more restrictive with access to the building, we think we will extend the period of time during which the building will be 'clean.'"

The decision was made as the Department of Health confirmed five new cases of COVID-19 in Taos County, which came from samples taken from people who visited a drive-through testing site set up by the state at Taos High School last week. By Tuesday (March 31), Taos County had 11 positive tests for COVID-19, though not all are county residents. The state reported 315 positive cases, a number expected to grow Wednesday.

By Tuesday (March 31) the hospital had submitted 176 tests for COVID-19 and received 155 results back. Five have come back positive. Other sites such as Taos Urgent Care have also conducted tests. To date, none of the five people who tested positive required hospitalization and no Holy Cross employee has tested positive with the virus, according to the hospital.

Nonhospital personnel will also be restricted from entering the building, according to a statement from the hospital.

Meanwhile the hospital continues to shore up its supply of protective equipment for its staff such as masks, gowns and gloves. Albuquerque area dentists donated masks and gloves as did several local businesses and Taos community members, according to a regular daily update from hospital CEO Bill Patten.

As of Tuesday the hospital had a seven-day supply left of surgical masks with shields, 11 days left of medium-size medical gloves and 13 days of isolation gowns. The hospital has ordered 250 more isolation gowns.

According to the update, the hospital was going to start putting masks on all patients beginning Wednesday (April 1) and on all employees beginning Thursday (April 2).

The hospital is looking at ways to recycle N95 masks, is seeking more ventilator and preventilator machines and is exploring the possibility of conducting COVID-19 testing in the Holy Cross lab. Currently, samples gathered from patients are sent to one of two labs in Albuquerque, which delays the results by at least a couple of days.


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