LOS LUNAS, N.M. (KRQE)- When an ambulance is heard in Valencia County, it isn’t staying there. With no hospital in the county, patients are taken to Albuquerque.
“The access to care has been a real challenge,” said Dr. Hank Taliaferro.
There are plans for a new hospital, but nothing has ever been built. In February, the City of Belen even filed a lawsuit against Valencia County, claiming tax payers were being ripped off, paying money for a non-existent hospital.
The Village of Los Lunas has also filed its own lawsuit, since Valencia County started collecting funds over 10 years ago when voters agreed to a mill levy.
But now, Valencia County residents have somewhere to go, as the county’s first licensed urgent care opened its doors Saturday, on Los Lentes Road. Staff said people flocked to the facility.
“I think is going to be a huge impact on medical care for this area,” said Alexandria Berridge, RN and paramedic for Valencia Urgent Care.
Patients can now walk in seven days a week.
“A lot of these people don’t really have anything, there’s not a hospital or anything,” said Adam Atencio, the clinical manager at the Valencia Urgent Care.
Patients can go to the new urgent care, for issues they likely would have had to be seen at a hospital for. The building already provided care to primary care patients before it became an Urgent Care. Those services are still provided, and many of the same doctors still work there. They said they want their patients to know, they can still go there for that care.
“We’ve been able to achieve a very low transfer rate to the hospital for direct admissions as well as to the emergency department,” said Dr. Hank Taliaferro, the owner of Valencia Urgent Care.
He also owns Duke City Urgent Care in Albuquerque.
“We’ll have some ER doctors, we’ll have some mid-level providers, nurses, medics, techs,” he said.
Taliaferro said there’s a lot his staff can do, from x-rays, to blood testing and even treat broken bones, and it’s all with one goal in mind.
“We try to keep people out of the hospital as much as possible,” said Berridge.
Taliaferro said they’re facility will help take strain off of the ER’s in Albuquerque and paramedics, but also people who live in Valencia County.
“It’s really cool to be a part of it and see people smile,” said Atencio.