A young child patient smiles to someone out of frame

Medical Aid

UNM Children’s Hospital Receives Federal Assistance for Surge in Pediatric Illnesses

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Administration for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) has deployed a 14-member team from its National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) to help support The University of New Mexico Children’s Hospital due to the recent surge in pediatric patients.

The unusually high volume of respiratory illnesses circulating among New Mexico’s children has brought Children’s Hospital patient volumes to greater than 100 percent capacity. UNM Hospital, working through the New Mexico Department of Health, requested support from ASPR.

NDMS provides high-quality rapid response medical care when public health and medical emergencies overwhelm state, local, tribal or territorial resources.

“The arrival of the NDMS team couldn’t come at a better time,” said Anna Duran, MD, 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.”

The NDMS team assisting at UNM Children’s Hospital consists of medical professionals from across the country who are activated as intermittent federal employees. It includes 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 Biden-Harris Administration has taken a series of actions to support states amid the confluence of respiratory illnesses this winter. Earlier this month, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra sent a letter to governors outlining federal support and resources available to them, including personnel from NDMS.

“The state has worked closely with UNM Hospital and our federal partners to stand up a robust response to the surge we’re seeing in pediatric patients,” said Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. “We’re grateful to have the support of the National Disaster Medical System team in caring for our youngest patients.”


Kate Becker
We are extremely grateful to New Mexico’s federal congressional delegation for truly listening to us and advocating on our behalf for solutions
Kate Becker, UNMH CEO

“We are extremely grateful to New Mexico’s federal congressional delegation for truly listening to us and advocating on our behalf for solutions,” said UNMH CEO Kate Becker.

“Our members of Congress were instrumental in coordinating with New Mexico Department of Health leaders and working through the appropriate federal channels, advocating for us to get this much needed help. And we are extremely grateful that HHS Secretary Becerra and his team understand the critical role UNM Hospital plays in our state.”

NDMS is an important part of ASPR, which leads national readiness and response for public health and medical support for disasters and public health emergencies, including natural disasters like hurricanes or a pandemic, as well as manmade disasters such as a chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear attack.

Categories: Children's Hospital, Health, News You Can Use, Top Stories