Texas medical facilities are carefully resuming cancer treatments, nonurgent surgeries and other procedures that had been delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Texas medical facilities are being cautious, as are the physicians and hospital staff, now that procedures initially deemed non-essential can resume,” said Texas Medical Association President and Houston emergency physician Dr. Diana L. Fite. “It is important to address our patients’ needs after putting off their procedures for weeks.”
Gov. Greg Abbott relaxed restrictions for hospitals in Texas on April 22.
Hospitals are checking their patients for COVID-19 symptoms before their procedures, Dr. Fite said. Other measures also are in place.
“Hospital personnel are also taking steps to make sure personal protective equipment is available at all times. Traffic inside a medical facility, in most cases, is limited to the patient and a single family member. I am sure the hospital and medical systems in Texas will do everything they can to protect their patients as we resume postponed procedures,” she said.
Houston Methodist has operated on emergency and urgent patients throughout the COVID-19 surge and is now scheduling an increasing number of other procedures.
“We are finding that some patients are ready to schedule their cases now, and some prefer to schedule for June,” said Executive Vice President and Chief Innovation Officer Roberta Schwartz. “We are not running at the same volume as pre-COVID-19, however, the schedule grows each week.”
How do you plan surgeries during a pandemic?
“Patients are being screened for COVID-19 three days before their surgery and coming to the hospital masked,” Schwartz said.
“We are still limiting visitors in the facility though allowing one visitor for day surgery and for overnight stays, allowing one person to get our patients settled in their bed. Essential visitors are allowed to stay overnight.”
What procedures are being done?
“Cancer areas and heart are ramping up as well as some general surgery and orthopedics that were slow for a few months. Cath lab volume is growing as well as the GI suites,” Schwartz said. “It is important for folks to get medical care they have been putting off. It is safe for them to do so.”
Surgeries to repair injured knees, hips and shoulders, which are associated with pain and disabilities, have become urgent as time has passed.
“We can also proceed with procedures to diagnose and successfully treat cancer in a timely fashion,” Schwartz said.
It’s unknown how these delayed procedures might affect patients’ long-term health.
Dan Weissmann, host of a Kaiser Health News and Public Road Productions
health care podcast, recently described how the health care industry is going through an economic devastation. Medical professionals are affected.
“Health care runs a lot like the restaurant industry. When people stop showing up for Sunday brunch — or for elective hip replacements, colonoscopies and face-lifts — the enterprise runs short of cash fast.”