City Moves to Purchase Gibson Medical Center

Key asset in healthcare system has been critical during pandemic, could be cornerstone for Gateway Center

ALBUQUERQUE — At a Tuesday meeting of the Homeless Coordinating Council, the City of Albuquerque announced that it is moving forward to purchase the Gibson Medical Center, a 572,000 square foot facility that used to house the Lovelace hospital. The Homeless Coordinating Council is a group of leaders from the City of Albuquerque, Bernalillo County, and the University of New Mexico organizing the joint effort to tackle homelessness in the Albuquerque Metro Area.

Mayor Tim Keller said, “The Gibson Medical Center has long been a key asset in the Albuquerque healthcare system and already houses important facilities like Turquoise Lodge for substance abuse treatment and Haven Behavioral Hospital. During the pandemic, it has been considered as a crucial overflow location. With this purchase, the Center’s role in the homelessness and behavioral health system may develop into a natural cornerstone for the Gateway Center Network of Services.”

The State of New Mexico is currently leasing large portions of the Gibson Medical Center for use in the COVID pandemic, and the City is coordinating with the State to ensure that those uses will continue after any purchase. The City will continue to work with the County and the University as it plans to purchase and eventually activate the facility.

Homelessness has long been a growing challenge in the metro area, and the week of Thanksgiving, the City and its community partners housed more than 630 people in emergency shelters—a new record for Albuquerque. Through the Homeless Coordinating Council, the Gateway Center is taking shape as a multi-site service model that expands on the capacity of the existing system of care, working with non-profit and public partners to get people into emergency shelter and give them access to long-term services that will reduce the number of people living on the streets—a number that cities all over the country have seen grow at a rapid pace over the last decade.

The building presents a versatile range of options for potential use by multiple healthcare and social service providers, and will immediately ease the pressure on the system of care created by the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, the site could add to the continuum of care available by providing:

  • A 24/7 drop-off for first responders and safety officers,
  • On-site medical and behavioral health services,
  • Short-term emergency shelter,
  • Direct physical connection for Veteran’s experiencing homelessness to the VA
  • Links to other needed services, and
  • A pathway to permanent housing

"Acquiring the building is part of the strategic planning for the City and our partners at the County and the UNM Health Sciences Center to provide vital services for people experiencing homelessness,” said Lawrence Rael, City of Albuquerque COO. "It's a good strategic location with other service providers already located in the building, and easy access to other partners providing services to the homeless population.”