ODESSA, Texas — Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order last week as part of his effort to reopen Texas that allowed hospitals to once again start performing elective surgeries.
Elective surgeries are those procedures which can be scheduled ahead of time and typically are not urgent.
Starting tomorrow, hospitals across the state will be able to perform elective surgeries, but they will have to abide by certain restrictions in order to do so.
Dr. Rohith Saravanan, chief medical officer at Odessa Regional Medical Center, will begin following these restrictions on April 22, as ORMC will be the only hospital in the Midland-Odessa area to begin performing elective surgeries.
"We will do two things: one is that we will reserve at least 25% of the hospital's capacity for the treatment of COVID-19 patients and two, that we will not request any PPE from any public sources for the duration of the COVID-19 disaster," Dr. Saravanan said.
Hospitals have received a letter that they must sign stating that they will follow these two rules in order to move forward with elective surgeries. ORMC felt they had prepared enough to take on a potential surge in COVID-19 cases.
"If and when they come, we will have that capacity to take care of it. So it’s more than 25% that we are reserving for COVID related cases and the ability to even surpass those numbers," Dr. Saravanan said.
ORMC made the decision to move forward with elective surgeries because they already have enough personal protective equipment to last them for a few months.
"We have a very healthy supply of PPE. There’s something called a burn rate calculator which we use. So based on our burn rate burn rate, meaning how fast you go through PPE, we will be good for a few months with no new allocations coming in," Dr. Saravanan said.
But not all hospitals are prepared to start elective surgeries tomorrow. With the new COVID-19 cases at Midland Medical Lodge, Midland Memorial Hospital was forced to put their plans for elective surgery on hold.
"One of our obligations is to be sure that we’re confident of our ability to care for the COVID patient population as it grows before we jump back into doing elective surgeries," Russell Meyers, MMH CEO and President said.
MMH will continue to perform non-surgical procedures.
However, some doctors are calling for stronger restrictions to slow the spread of the virus while still allowing elective surgeries.
"The stronger the restrictions the better we would be at controlling the spread of this disease. But from a medical standpoint, as you can see these elective surgeries are a medically necessary process that the whole community needs," Dr. Saravanan said.
MMH and MCH will both hold off on beginning elective surgery procedures again because both want to be confident that they can adequately care for the COVID-19 patients as well as the patients that would be coming in for elective procedures.