Texas Health Resources has announced that elective and non-essential surgeries and procedures are being postponed in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
This is the first time Texas Health has postponed elective surgeries and procedures in response to a public health crisis. The decision comes on the heels of other major safety measures instituted by the system, which cares for more patients than any other provider in North Texas.
“It is our duty to take whatever steps necessary for the safety and well-being of the people in the communities we serve and for the people who provide care to them,” said Barclay Berdan, CEO of Texas Health. “That means bringing the power of our entire system – all of our resources – to this fight.”
Texas Health Resources has 23,000 employees and the 6,200 physicians on staff in North Texas.
The suspension of elective procedures includes non-essential patient care and applies to Texas Health facilities and Texas Health Physicians Group practices until further notice.
“We have made this important decision to limit exposure to staff and patients, as there is now community transmission of the new coronavirus (COVID-19),” said Dr. Andrew Masica, chief medical officer for Reliable Health at Texas Health. “Performing nonessential care during this critical time unnecessarily brings people into our facilities while using critical supplies of personal protective equipment and workforce capacity.”
Elective, or non-essential, surgeries and procedures are those that can be delayed without harm to the patient.
Physicians have been asked to review their currently scheduled surgeries and procedures, identify those that are truly elective, and begin reaching out to affected patients. Texas Health will assist with notifying patients.
Urgent surgeries and procedures will continue to be scheduled as clinically appropriate. These are treatments that need to be performed to prevent significantly worse outcomes and increased health problems for patients in the near future.
Texas Health is applying the same safety consideration to its ambulatory and outpatient settings. Appointments for chronic condition follow-up, preventive services and screenings, ongoing treatments like physical therapy and non-urgent radiology exams will be postponed. This also applies to imaging, including the cancellation of all screening mammograms. Radiology departments will work with physicians to determine which imaging tests are essential. The system’s rehabilitations departments will work with physicians to determine essential physical therapy and support home health orders.
“We also think it’s very important that caregivers provide bridge prescriptions to patients during this period,” Masica said. “Likewise, patients should continue to take their usual medications and stay in touch with their providers by phone while we wait to begin rescheduling their appointments.”
The postponement of elective procedures comes after Texas Health instituted other safety measures to stop the spread of the virus last week. These steps included significantly reducing the number of entrances used at its facilities across North Texas to funnel traffic to screening stations. No one with symptoms — except patients seeking care and those with appointments — is being allowed in its facilities. Also, Texas Health is allowing only one visitor per patient.
“We remain steadfast in our mission to improve the health of the people in the communities we serve,” Berdan said, “and are committed to our duty to focus on the well-being of the entire North Texas community during this critical time.”
• A consumer information hotline at (682) 236-7601) and hub have been set up on TexasHealth.org to provide information for the general public and patients.
• Go here to learn more about steps taken by Texas Health in response to COVID-19.