VanDweller Community Forums

Full Version: Difficulties w/ New Mexico medical care-complex conditions
You're currently viewing a stripped down version of our content. View the full version with proper formatting.
I saw that Bob Wells put out a video about the New Mexico State Park annual pass. It is a great deal and overall, as long as you are okay with some run down conditions in some parks (what do you want for so cheap?).

But, if you have complicated medical issues requiring multiple specialists, if you are here, be prepared for very long waits.  I'm not sure about VA care, but if you are on private insurance or Medicaid, you may want to think twice about spending extended time here unless you are okay with driving hundreds of miles for specialist and/or complicated hospital care. 

I'm an RN and I know how to work within ridiculous US medical system-generally. But New Mexico is a poor state and unless you are near Albuquerque or El Paso (250 miles round trip from Elephant Butte), you will need to go out of state for much more than primary care. 

Without going into my medical problems, let me tell you about my experiences.  I went up to ABQ (UNM Medical center) from Elephant Butte early March which is a 300 mile round trip. After ruling out an acute emergency, I was admitted for more of a workup.  But, the wait for a bed was "a while", so per standard procedure in most hospitals, they held me in the ER. I was lucky and had a private room in the ER because I showed up at a quiet moment.  After 24 hours in the ER, staff admitted that it might be "hours and hours longer" for a bed upstairs.  At that point, they started calling the other hospitals in ABQ. All of them had similar waits, so the decision was to sit tight until a bed was available. After forty-three hours in the ER, the specialists came in and said that I would have to wait hours more because there were "about fifty patients admitted, waiting for a bed upstairs right now".  As an RN and as a patient, I've been in many ERs both Stateside and overseas.  The nurses' station was 10 feet from my room's door, and boy, did I get an earful! If patients weren't dying, they were left to their stretchers with only vital signs taken and absolute minimal supportive care given. I've not ever heard so much screaming in pain, not even when I worked in Labor & Delivery. The gunshot cases and codes and prisoners coming in accompanied with guards and muzzled police dogs were never ending.

At that point (after 43 hours), I checked out AMA (Against Medical Advice). I called my old specialist in Phoenix and was able to get an appointment with him in less than 48 hours. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to wait that long, so Hubby brought me to one of the teaching hospitals in Phoenix. All the appropriate care was given expeditiously. I was able to get follow-up procedures on an outpatient basis 36 hours after discharge from the hospital.  

So, I've gone from NM to Phoenix (840 miles round trip from Elephant Butte) three times in March and will be going back again in a couple of weeks for more treatment. At 15mpg. Luckily, we've been able to vandwell there until next month, where, because of the coming desert heat, we will probably have to get a hotel room.

I had plenty of time to talk to the docs and nurses at UNM. Apparently, that is how things go here as they are the only trauma center in all of New Mexico, NE AZ, Southern Colorado, NW OK and NW Texas. But all the hospitals are often jammed.  Because of the ubiquitous poverty and large numbers of Medicaid patients (who more often wait until medical conditions are severe before attempting to access care-usually the ER), waits are horrible. If I had to see a specialist there, they told me the wait was between four to eight months. Hence, I'm going to continue care in Tucson and Phoenix.

As I said, I don't know about VA care. But, unless I'm suffering from a stroke or any other problem which needs care within an hour or so, Hubby will drive me to Tucson or Phoenix.  

So, be aware that if you need specialized care in New Mexico, be prepared to wait and wait and wait.  I intellectually knew that health care in NM wasn't optimal, but living it is an entirely different story.
Oh, I forgot to mention that you will need to bring your own food and drink. I was brought one meal in the 43 hours I was there. Thankfully, Hubby brought me food. Did I say sonething about Third World hospital care?

Wow, thanks for the write-up.

You might have better luck in Las Cruces....its a 'university town' with nearby military areas, and they might have what you need.

I only had a medical issue one time in NM...I was in the southern part and went to El Paso. After a very short wait, I was seen immediately and had no further problems, thankfully.

But I will keep this in mind for future reference.
If you had bad experience with the care in ABQ, and you had to go to Phoenix, why didn't you just stay nearer Phoenix instead of returning to Elephant Butte over and over?
I live here and have a disabled son here in TorC. I lived in Phoenix and Tucson for 24 years and abhor Phoenix. I merely dislike Tucson.

I would go to Las Cruces, but for the fact that they dont have anesthesia 24/7 and other perquisites that a big city trauma center has. I've personally seen adults and newborn babies die waiting for docs, OR teams or transport to higher level of care. Nope, unless it's something easy, I go to a big teaching hospital.
That’s a bit scary.

Having had an emergency hospitalization in 2018, tho, I can say that hospital care even in an urban area ain’t what it used to be.

We baby boomers have overwhelmed the medical care system, everywhere, and in some places this is more obvious than others.
(03-26-2019, 01:34 PM)WalkaboutTed Wrote: [ -> ]I live here...

Ah, ok, the rest of the story.
(03-26-2019, 01:58 PM)WanderingRose Wrote: [ -> ]We baby boomers have overwhelmed the medical care system, everywhere, and in some places this is more obvious than others.

That is one way to look at it.

Another is: managed care and the insurance companies have largely ruined US healthcare.