Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response (ASPR), deployed a National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) team to the University of New Mexico (UNM) Children’s Hospital – providing much needed support to an overwhelmed emergency department.
With the UNM Children’s Hospital at over 100 percent capacity, ASPR worked closely with the New Mexico Department of Health to quickly evaluate and grant their request for federal medical assistance. The Biden-Harris Administration has committed to supporting states as they face a confluence of respiratory illnesses this winter and has already taken a series of actions to help states address the increased strain on hospitals and heightened demand for medications that treat seasonal illnesses.
Secretary Becerra sent a letter to Governors on December 2 outlining supports and resources available to them from HHS, including federal medical personnel such as from the National Disaster Medical System, and last week the Agency increased access to Tamiflu through the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS).
“In preparation for the winter months, we have reached out to state leaders across the country to remind them that we’re ready to help our health professionals tackle the flu, RSV and other infectious diseases,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “When New Mexico called, we responded — our National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) team is on its way. We thank the women and men at UNM Children’s Hospital who have worked tirelessly, many through the holidays, to care for families at this critical time.”
“Pediatric illnesses are not taking a break this holiday, and neither is our response,” said Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Dawn O’Connell. “The deployment of a National Disaster Medical System team to New Mexico is a result of HHS’ close partnership with states this winter – serving as a lifeline to provide relief to staff, decrease wait times, and improve quality of care.”
NDMS provides high-quality rapid response medical care when public health and medical emergencies overwhelm state, local, tribal, or territorial resources. The 14-person NDMS team coming to UNM Children’s Hospital consists of medical professionals from across the country who are activated as intermittent federal employees, including: a team leader, an administrative specialist, a medical officer, a nurse practitioner, four registered nurses, four paramedics and two respiratory therapists. The team will directly help UNM Hospital’s staffing challenges, allowing existing staff some much needed relief and filling gaps in pediatric patient care.
“The arrival of the NDMS team couldn’t come at a better time,” said Anna Duran, M.D, Associate Chief Medical Officer of the UNM Children’s Hospital. “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.”