In 1936 Mabel Dodge Luhan donated a house on La Posta Road that became the first location of Holy Cross Hospital in Taos. It has been 85 years since the original building was donated and Holy Cross Hospital began growing its roots in Taos. Over the years, Holy Cross Hospital has expanded to include a family of local clinics, outpatient services, and community programs, this healthcare family is now known as Holy Cross Medical Center. Our hospital is now an 89,000 square-foot Critical Access Hospital and is part of the non-profit, Holy Cross Medical Center, which employs over 400 members of our community.
As another year comes to a close, we wanted to take a moment to look back on some of the accomplishments that Holy Cross made in 2021.
One of Holy Cross Hospital’s biggest achievements for this year is the successful response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Holy Cross was ahead of the curve when the first round of COVID-19 vaccines were distributed. The team had already prepared for community-wide storage and distribution of the vaccine by ordering and installing the ultra-low-temperature freezers needed to properly store the vaccines. In early January, the hospital was working closely with the Town of Taos, Taos County, Taos Pueblo, local healthcare providers, and many volunteers to establish a vaccine distribution site, first on the hospital campus, then at the Taos Middle School, and finally at the Sagebrush Inn. By February 4th Holy Cross had distributed 1,500 doses of the vaccine, and by May, Taos County was one of the most vaccinated counties in New Mexico. It was an amazing team accomplishment with David Elliot, Hospital Emergency Response Coordinator, coordinating the efforts. The continued commitment of David Elliot throughout the pandemic earned him the ‘Citizen of the Year Award’ from the Taos News for 2021. We are proud to have David Elliot on our team, and we are grateful for the amazing efforts of everyone involved.
The freezers that were acquired in 2020 continue to store the Pfizer vaccine for Holy Cross distribution efforts and also allows Holy Cross to store vaccines for other local healthcare providers. Holy Cross continues to offer COVID-19 vaccinations & booster shots at the recently reopened Holy Cross Annex Building, provided with the support of the Town of Taos. All three vaccine options and boosters are available and you don’t need to register. Walk-ins are welcome Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 11am-3pm.
Going Above & Beyond
Every member of the Holy Cross family has worked non-stop since the beginning of the pandemic. While we experienced some return to normal this past summer, variants and breakthrough cases started to re-emerge, and our health care family was put to the test for the third time during the pandemic. We have an amazing team at Holy Cross Hospital and the continued quality of care is quite the accomplishment for a rural community hospital. Special mention goes to the Emergency Department, Hospitalist Service, and the Intensive Care staff but all staff members played an important role throughout the pandemic.
To better serve the needs of our community, Holy Cross Hospital installed a new state-of-the art mammography machine which is one of the most advanced systems available. The Genius 3D Mammogram is top-of-the-line technology and is available right here in Taos.
Holy Cross is also in the process of installing a new state-of-the-art CT machine. This new machine offers enhanced imaging technology, faster exams, and low radiation exposure. The new machine will be purchased with funding provided by the Taos County mill levy.
The pandemic kept a lot of people from scheduling regular exams, but it’s important to continue your regular check-ups. If you haven’t scheduled your mammography exam and you need to, don’t delay any longer, schedule your appointment today.
Expanding Pediatric Services
Dr. Villarreal, or Dr. V, as many Taos families know her, has been a beloved pediatrician for countless families in our region. Dr. Villarreal has decided to retire this year and she approached Holy Cross Medical Center about acquiring her practice so that her families can continue to get great local care. While there are many details to be worked out through the month of December, the HCMC team is excited to maintain pediatric services and provide excellent care for Dr. V’s families. HCMC plans to continue the legacy of care that Dr. Villarreal has provided families in the region — in part by retaining the TCCY staff and keeping the many familiar faces in place at the practice.
Bill Patten, CEO of Holy Cross Medical Center said, “Our hope is to retain all of the staff from Dr. V’s team and provide patients with as seamless a transition as possible. Pediatrician, Dr. Karen Gelfand will also be joining the team at TCCY when she relocates from HCMC’s clinic on Gusdorf Road in January.”
Cancer Support for Local Families
In 2021 Cancer Support Services raised over $54,000 to help provide support for over 125 community members struggling with cancer. If you or a loved one are struggling with cancer please learn more about our services at TaosCancerSupportServices.com
Expanded Care for Pregnant Women, Babies & Families.
Holy Cross First Steps has nine home visitors that provide free local support for families with newborns and children up to the age of 5. This year the amazing team at First Steps provided free support for 220 families and provided over 2,000 home visits.
The Rural OB Access and Material Services program known as ROAMS, is a grant funded program managed by Holy Cross Medical Center. The ROAMS program brought new ultrasound equipment to Questa, Taos and facilities in northeastern New Mexico. ROAMS has also helped connect practitioners with pregnant women and new mothers living in rural parts of New Mexico via online telehealth appointments, offering enhanced care options with less travel for the patient.
To top off these great free services, Women’s Health Institute and the Holy Cross Labor & Delivery department delivered 138 new Taoseño babies so far this year. We are eagerly awaiting the first newborn of 2022!
A Quest for Excellence
Each year the New Mexico Hospital Association recognizes exceptional efforts by hospitals to improve hospital quality and patient care for the people of New Mexico. The awards represent the highest level of professional acknowledgement from New Mexico’s Quality Committee and members. This year, Holy Cross Hospital was chosen to receive the Quest for Excellence Quality Award. Being the recipients of this year’s Quest for Quality is a significant reward for Holy Cross Medical Center and is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the amazing staff
Navigating Insurance Benefits
The Benefit Navigation program of Holy Cross Hospital is a free program to help the citizens of our community understand their health insurance enrollment options and provide application assistance. This year our benefit navigation team helped over 450 community members navigate their insurance options. We are looking forward to expanding services to provide support for disability benefits in 2022.
Substance Misuse Prevention
Taos Alive’s founder, Julie Bau, was posthumously honored with the Outstanding Dedication to Underage Drinking Prevention award from the New Mexico Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Her husband, Dom, and their 4 year old son, Kauani, were present at the award ceremony held September 18th, 2021 in Albuquerque to accept the award on Julie’s behalf. We thank Julie for the immeasurable impact she made on our community.
The Taos Alive Coalition strives to unite the community by planning and implementing strategies that prevent and reduce substance misuse and its consequences among Taos County youth. Taos Alive was recently awarded a $238,000 grant to continue to offer their great support for our community.
Holy Cross Hospital is proud to care for the Taos community. From everyone at Holy Cross Medical Center, thank you for your continued service and please have a safe, healthy, and happy holiday season.