Posted at: 05/13/2013 10:57 PM
Updated at: 05/13/2013 11:07 PM
By: Chris Ramirez, KOB Eyewitness News 4
The UNM Sandoval County Medical Center, located in Rio Rancho’s new downtown, is in a dispute with the New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT) over road signs.
Michael Piscitello, director of support services for the hospital, said UNMH has asked for the blue hospital directional signs to be placed on I-25 and State Highways 550 and 528. UNM Sandoval Regional Medical Center is equipped with an emergency room and is able to handle most medical emergencies.
Hospital administrators worry nearby travelers with medical emergencies who are unfamiliar with the area may not know of the hospital in Rio Rancho and drive an additional 45 minutes to Albuquerque or Santa Fe for medical services.
“We feel that it is a very dangerous situation,” Piscitello said. “It puts our public in harm’s way.”
Phil Gallegos, a spokesperson for the NMDOT said an internal policy prohibits placing hospital directional signs outside of a 5-mile radius from the hospital. Gallegos said the department has requested a study to be paid for by UNM Hospital, that proves it is quicker to get to the Rio Rancho hospital versus the UNM Hospital near downtown Albuquerque.
“It’s making sure that whoever needs medical help or that kind of trauma assistance gets the best information available from wherever that sign is to ensure they are directed to the quickest location that they can get taken care of,” Gallegos said.
“In some situations policies and procedures have to be overridden for public safety,” Piscitello said.
There is no word yet on whether a study has been commissioned.