AUSTIN, Texas - Elective surgeries have been put on hold in Texas for nearly a month, a painful position for both patients and doctors. Orthopedic Dr. Charles Hubbard has been able to see his patients but unable to operate on them.
“People are really in pain now and that’s the issue as physicians,” Dr. Hubbard said. “It's hard to see people who are in pain that you know you can fix but you can’t.”
Gov. Greg Abbott issued executive orders Friday to reopen Texas. By Wednesday, elective surgery restrictions were loosened allowing more surgeries to take place. Texas Medical Association President Dr. David Fleeger explained not all procedures can start back up again.
“If you have an elective non-urgent surgery really those can’t happen yet the governor has opened things up so that emergent and urgent surgeries can be done more than what was being done before,” Dr. Fleeger said.
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Each facility is following strict guidelines put in place since the beginning of the pandemic. Baylor Scott & White is contacting patients this week to schedule procedures and released this statement:
“We have been working to develop plans in compliance with the Gov. Abbott’s new orders, ensuring we do all we can to appropriately balance the needs of our communities. We must, of course, remain prepared for influxes of COVID-19 patients; meanwhile, we know there are thousands of Texans who have been forced to delay necessary medical and surgical services for weeks. We are confident we can safely care for patients who meet the criteria set forth in the executive order – patients who need biopsies for potential cancer diagnoses, for example – as soon as this week, while maintaining an adequate supply of personal protective equipment. And we will continue to evaluate this balance daily…”
Dr. Hubbard said he’s been getting emails from hospital systems daily with the objective to keep patients safe. Although restrictions have been lifted he is going to wait before entering an operating room.
“Personally I am not doing foot or ankle reconstructive surgeries for a couple of more weeks. I don’t want to be the first one going back in,” said Hubbard.
The Texas Medical Association took a recent poll evaluating physicians' needs and learned doctors have taken a financial hit during this pandemic because some are seeing fewer patients than they have before.
“Of the doctors that we polled, are down in revenue for their practice by 50 percent or more so ultimately the vast majority of doctors practices in the state of Texas are working in the red they are losing money right now,” said Fleeger.
Dr. Fleeger adds safety is a top priority for both doctors and patients.
“Ultimately what we need to do is make sure we have adequate PPE in our communities, we are getting there but we are not there yet and then testing becomes very critical for this,” Fleeger said.
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