Letter To The Editor: DOH Failure To Respond/Correct Critical COVID Testing Problems

Los Alamos

Letter to the Honorable Michelle Lujan Grisham,

Understandably, NMDOH is being greatly stressed by COVID-19; however, even the most simple functions are not being performed properly.  New Mexico citizens deserve to have a DOH working at it very best – and not doing dumb things. 

The subject of this complaint is the DOH responsibility to provide for the COVID testing needs of state citizens – not when and where it may be convenient to DOH “bumbling indifference as usual” staff.  Specifics follow:

I am 83 years old, a LANL retiree and a 46-year tax-paying resident of New Mexico.  I have a pulmonary medical procedure scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 23. DOH requires that I have a COVID test prior to that procedure. Such test must be taken within 3 days of the procedure. In this case, since no testing is available Saturday and Sunday, my test must be Monday, with results available to the medical facility on Tuesday.

I live in Los Alamos, where the DOH website claims to have two Los Alamos locations conducting COVID testing: Las Clinicas del Norte Los Alamos Clinic, 1183 Diamond Dr. Unit D, Los Alamos (presumably doing testing Tuesdays 8-4 p.m.) and Curative – Los Alamos County, a parking lot drive-thru operation at 759 Central Ave., Los Alamos (in actually doing testing Tuesday and Thursdays 8 a.m. – 3 p.m.). Note: The presumption cited regarding Las Clinicas de Norte stems from an employee at that facility telling me Oct. 15 (while opening the office at 11:30 a.m.) that the clinic is no longer doing COVID testing.

Critically, while redundant service is presumably being provided Tuesdays, no testing is available Mondays or Wednesdays or Fridays (for someone having a medical procedure requiring COVID testing on the following Monday). Such confusion is inexplicable and evidence that DOH is not really doing its job responsibly – and is putting citizens at unnecessary trouble and potential dangerous risk.

The DOH solution in my case: make a 60-mile round trip to a testing location in Española (and hope that it is actually open). I have 40 years of Federal and New Mexico senior management service and I consider this evidence of DOH abject incompetence. I trust the Governor will see fit to ensure DOH quickly takes extensive corrective action. This problem is not rocket science – it is evidence of too many DOH personnel not doing their utmost to ensure New Mexico citizenry wellbeing during these dangerous COVID times.

As a minimum, Los Alamos, a key community in Northern New Mexico’s culture and economy, immediately deserves a Monday thru Friday COVID testing facility until the COVID threat subsides. Please advise.