The University of New Mexico Board of Regents, in what will likely be the final meeting for five of the members following nominations from Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, approved over $45 million in capital outlay funds requested by the Health Sciences Center Committee for a variety of projects. 

The majority of that money, over $40 million of it, will go towards funding for program management and architects/designers for a new “Modern Medical Facility.” 

The new facility, which has been discussed for nearly ten years, would expand the bed capacity of UNM Hospital by up to 96 beds. The project will cost between $400 and $470 million depending on the number of beds that end up in the facility. Broaddus & Associates, based in Austin, Texas, was awarded a $6.8 million contract to handle management of the product, while a joint bid between HDR Architects and local firm FBT Architects won the right to design the facility.  

The current parking structure for UNMH, which sits off of Yale, would be torn down and replaced with a new facility. Mike Chicarelli, the COO for UNM Hospitals, said the structure is old, beginning to fall apart and requires heavy maintenance to keep going. There are structural deficits on what he called the skin of the building that needs a tremendous amount of repair. The UNMH decided to put off that maintenance because of their plans to build a new structure. 

Dr. David Roth, who is the chancellor of the Health Sciences Center, said that UNMH, the only level one trauma center in the state, has to turn away 1,000 patients a year to other hospitals due to the lack of beds. 

With the construction of a new Physics and Astronomy building, the site the current one occupies, right next to the Hospital, is now an option for the new facility, as well as the opportunity for a new parking structure. Chicarelli said ideally they will be able to attach the new building to the old pavillion in the place where the parking structure currently stands. 

One of the areas that Chicarelli highlighted within the current facility was the pre-operation rooms. He said the standard now is to have two pre-op rooms for every operating room, but UNMH has only five pre-op rooms for 16 operating rooms. 

“It’s a choke point in the system,” Chicarelli said. “We can bring people in and get them ready, but it does slow down the operating room efficiency significantly.”’

The other five million dollars will go towards a variety of improvement products at various Health Services buildings. Among the projects is a remodel of the Psychiatric Emergency Services, which will provide separate spaces for juvenile and adult patients. 

Also on the agenda is a new fire wire system for the building. The current one is from the 1970s and Becker said that it’s very unsafe. The money will also provide a new roof for parts of UNMH. The final thing on the list is a remodel of patient rooms at the UNM Psychiatric Center, which will provide private rooms, of which there are currently none in the facility. 

Cameron Goeldner is a senior reporter for the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted by email at or on Twitter @Goeldfinger.