New Mexico Higher Education Department Approves $400 Million UNM Hospital Project

Stephanie Montoya
New Mexico Higher Education Department Approves $400 Million UNM Hospital Project

The New Mexico Higher Education Department has approved construction of a new hospital tower for the University of New Mexico Hospital.  

The department has been working with UNM on the project since early 2019, which is the largest-scale capital outlay project undertaken by a public university in New Mexico in 10 years. All major construction and capital outlay projects undertaken by public colleges and universities in the state must be approved by the Higher Education Department’s Capital Outlay Committee, regardless of funding source. The proposal will next go before the New Mexico Board of Finance for approval.  

“Our department has been coordinating with UNM for the past three years on different phases of the project, paving the way for the approval of this final phase,” Higher Education Department Capital Outlay Director Gerald Hoehne said. “Thanks to the hard work, coordination, and preparation by all parties, we are now one step closer to constructing this extremely important project that will have a positive impact on the health and well being of all New Mexicans.”   

The tower will include a seven-level, 570,000 square foot adult acute care hospital containing 96 intensive care beds, 18 operating rooms, multiple medical laboratories and suites, and a complete adult emergency department. Additional space will be dedicated to a satellite pharmacy, blood bank, clinical laboratory, and spaces for occupational, respiratory, physical, and speech therapy. Retail pharmacy, education, and food service spaces will also be available to cater to visitors and staff.  

“This is by far the largest project ever approved by the NMHED Capital Outlay Committee, and one that will definitely improve the health of New Mexico citizens,” Capital Outlay Committee Chair Dr. Gerald Burke said. “With the collaboration of our agency, the Legislative Finance Committee, the Department of Finance and Administration, and the Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources Department, it is now ready to be submitted to the New Mexico State Board of Finance for their approval.”  

According to the proposal submitted by UNM Hospital, the expanded facility will reduce patient wait time for treatment, reduce the need to divert patients to seek care out of state, and expand capacity to treat patients and be better prepared for future public health emergencies. 

The total approved cost for the project is $401.9 million, $320 million of which consists of a mortgage backed by the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department. Thirty million dollars in state funding has also been allocated, and $51.9 million will come from UNM Hospital Capital Initiatives. The project will be completed in multiple phases with an expected completion date of June 2024, and will be open for patients in October 2024. Prior phases of the project including a new parking structure, central utility plant, and logistics space were previously approved by the department and are currently underway. 

UNM Hospital is New Mexico’s only academic medical center and houses the state’s only level 1 trauma center, children’s hospital, and burn unit. It is also the region’s primary safety-net hospital, caring for uninsured and underinsured New Mexicans.