Texas hospitals begin offering some elective procedures again

America's ER operates a drive-thru coronavirus testing site in The Woodlands north of Houston. (Andy Li/Community Impact Newspaper)
America's ER operates a drive-thru coronavirus testing site in The Woodlands north of Houston. (Andy Li/Community Impact Newspaper)

America's ER operates a drive-thru coronavirus testing site in The Woodlands north of Houston. (Andy Li/Community Impact Newspaper)

Hospitals across Texas have begun offering certain elective procedures and surgeries once again under guidelines provided by Gov. Greg Abbott.

Abbott, who laid out his plan to reopen parts of the Texas economy in an April 17 press conference, set April 22 as the date for hospitals to resume elective procedures. Abbott first directed hospitals to cancel elective surgeries with a March 22 executive order, at the time saying the move was necessary to allow doctors to focus on treating coronavirus patients.

In his April 17 announcement, Abbott said concerns over bed capacity and personal protective equipment were subsiding.

"Many doctors and nurses have been sidelined because of the need to postpone nonessential medical procedures," Abbot said. "Today, Texas has plenty of hospital capacity, we have a solid supply chain of PPE, and many of our doctors and nurses have patients who desperately need medical treatment. It is time to allow those doctors and nurses to return to work."

In the modified executive order, newly allowed procedures still must diagnose or correct a serious medical condition in which timeliness is needed to lower the risk of serious medical consequences or death. In his press conference, Abbott gave as an example a diagnostic test for suspected cancer.


Hospitals are also still required to reserve at least 25% of their capacity for COVID-19 patients, and Abbott has directed hospitals to demonstrate they will not request PPE from any public source for the remainder of the disaster declaration.

Hospitals that cannot perform elective procedures without taking resources away from COVID-19 patients must continue to restrict them, according to the order.

Medical community, local leaders react

In an April 17 statement, Texas Medical Association President David Fleeger applauded Abbott's order, calling it "gradual" and "science-based."

"The health of patients not affected by COVID-19 is an overwhelming concern," Fleeger said. "Telemedicine has been an important tool, but it does not substitute for hands-on examinations of growing children or diagnosing complex health problems. Many of our patients have put off desperately needed surgeries or procedures that can no longer be delayed."

As hospitals start performing elective procedures again, Fleeger said social distancing and increased testing remain critically important.

In an April 20 press conference, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said the county plans to follow Abbott's guidelines on elective procedures, also emphasizing the importance of increasing testing capacity. Intake at local hospitals of new COVID-19 cases has been flat, and Hidalgo said hospital leaders have told her they are in a good position to start offering elective procedures.

"But we need to continue watching trends," she said. "Intake right now is flat, but if that begins rising again, we'll have to take a very close look at that."

In Williamson County in the Austin area, County Judge Bill Gravell updated an executive order to keep it aligned with Abbott's. Dr. Mark Escott, the interim health authority for Austin and Travis County, said Abbott's plans to reopen the economy align with the city's plans so far.

“This should not be seen as an indication that we’re over [the coronavirus],” Escott told Austin City Council on April 21. “This thing has not gone away, and it is not going away.”

Abbott's renewed executive order runs through 11:59 a.m. May 8 unless extended by Abbott.
By Shawn Arrajj
Shawn Arrajj serves as the editor of the Cy-Fair edition of Community Impact Newspaper where he covers the Cy-Fair and Jersey Village communities. He mainly writes about development, transportation and issues in Harris County.


MOST RECENT

Nearly 3,700 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Cy-Fair ISD during the 2020-21 school year. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
86 COVID-19 cases confirmed in Cy-Fair ISD schools April 5-11

As of April 12, the district is reporting 91 active cases and 3,601 recoveries.

Armored Sports camps feature basketball, flag football and more. (Courtesy Pexels)
Armored Sports camps to launch in venues across Greater Houston

A new Christian sports camp for youth is launching this summer in churches across the Greater Houston area.

"Breaking Strongholds" is a faith-based, eight-episode series that explores topics such as suicide and depression. (Courtesy Terry Weaver)
Series shot in Montgomery County aiming for Hulu, Netflix deal and more Houston-area news

Read the latest business and community news from the Houston area.

Services at Lonesome Blonde include haircuts, coloring, styling and customizable treatments. (Courtesy Lonesome Blonde)
Lonesome Blonde hair salon now open on Cypress Rosehill Road

The new, upscale salon opened in February.

The temporary waiver covering initial vehicle registration, vehicle registration renewal, vehicle titling, renewal of permanent disabled parking placards and 30-day temporary permits will end April 14. (Hannah Zedaker/Community Impact Newspaper)
DMV officials say no grace period following waiver of car title, registration; new housing set for Magnolia, Cypress

Read the top business and community news from the past week from the Houston area.

Construction is underway on the office condo project. (Rendering courtesy Read King Commercial Real Estate)
Office condo project coming soon to Vintage Marketplace

The new offices are within walking distance of restaurants such as Ambriza Social Mexican Kitchen and Bellagreen.

The store is known for its color-coordinated in-store setup of clothes, shoes, jewelry and other accessories. (Courtesy Charming Charlie)
Charming Charlie returns to Houston with new Willowbrook Mall storefront

The store is known for its color-coordinated in-store setup of clothes, shoes, jewelry and other accessories.




From left: Owners Dion Burks, Yolanda Burks and Mario Navarrete and employee Jana Cone run Popcorn Blast together on Hwy. 6 in Cy-Fair.
Family-owned shop brings creative flavor pairings at Popcorn Blast

“The excitement even when grownups come in, it’s pure beauty.”

After serving up chicken in College Station for nearly three decades, Layne’s Chicken Fingers is opening its first location in the Houston area in Katy. (Courtesy Layne's Chicken Fingers)
Layne's Chicken Fingers coming to Katy; Gyro King opens in Sugar Land and more Houston-area news

Read the latest business and community news from the Houston area.

Less than 25% of American office workers have returned to in-person office settings since the start of the pandemic. (Courtesy Pixabay)
DATA: Texas metros lead the nation in return to in-person work since start of pandemic

About 37% of Houston office employees had returned to in-person work as of the end of March, as compared to an average of less than 25% in other major U.S. metros.

All arrangements at Amanda Bee's Floral Designs are made in house and designed by florist and store owner Amanda Bowman. (Courtesy Amanda Bee's Floral Designs)
Local florist opens Amanda Bee's Floral Designs on Fry Road in Cypress

All arrangements are made in house and designed by florist and store owner Amanda Bowman, who said she specializes in one-of-a-kind posey arrangements.