ODESSA, Texas — Governor Abbott's executive order will now allow elective surgeries in Texas to start back up Monday.
Dr. Donald Davenport, Co-Interim Chief Medical Officer at Medical Center Hospital, expects elective surgeries to be a long process before they can get back to performing these procedures like they normally have.
He doesn't expect hospitals to be able to jump right back into these surgeries because COVID-19 still demands significant attention.
"It’s going to take us a little bit of time to go back to what was normal from an operating standpoint. We need to introduce this back slowly while keeping an eye on the community and a potential surge in COVID cases versus a reduction in COVID cases," Dr. Davenport said.
In the last six weeks, emergency procedures still took place, but elective surgeries are not as urgent in most cases. It is usually up to the patient as well as the doctor to decide when an elective surgery will take place.
"An elective surgery probably by definition is a surgical procedure that can be performed on the basis of a patient's symptomatology and disease process that can be scheduled," Dr. Davenport said.
One big question is why these types of procedures were pushed back in the first place.
"The growth of the COVID-19 virus in the community, the unknown need for response within the hospital with regards to patients that might be hospitalized, and the use of personal protective equipment was limited," Dr. Davenport said.
But it is important that hospitals get back to performing elective surgeries for the health and well-being of the public. Dr. Davenport said that they need to get back to performing these procedures because they don't simply go away because COVID-19 is here. He says that people still get sick and need to have surgery in order to manage those issues.
Another reason for these hospitals to go back to performing elective surgeries is due to the financial impact they have on the hospitals.
"Hospitals are reimbursed by doing procedures and when you cut the number of procedures, and I think our number of elective procedures was down 70% in Medical Center, there’s a big financial insult that the hospital takes and they still need to pay their bills and pay their employees," Dr. Davenport said.
But the only way that hospitals can get back to performing more elective procedures than they will be initially is to see the rate of COVID-19 cases drop. That would ensure not only the health and safety of the patients in the hospitals but the hospital workers themselves.
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