Note: This story is being updated.
For the first time ever, Texas Health Resources hospitals are postponing elective and non-essential surgeries and procedures in response to COVID-19. The goal is to limit transmission of the virus because community spread has been established in the region.
“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 via release. “That means bringing the power of our entire system – all of our resources – to this fight.”
Texas Health employs 23,000 staff and 6,200 physicians and sees more patients than any other system in North Texas. Until further notice, the postponement of non-essential care applies to all Texas Health facilities and Texas Health Physicians Group practices, and includes any procedure that can be delayed without harm to the patient. Physicians are reviewing their schedules to determine which surgeries are truly elective, and the system will be notifying patients of any changes.
Chronic condition follow-up appointments, preventive services and screenings, and ongoing treatments like physical therapy and non-urgent radiology exams are included in the postponement. Most imaging will also be delayed, including mammograms. Rehabilitation programs will determine which appointments are essential as well.
Physicians will be providing bridge prescriptions during this time, and encourage patients to keep taking their medicine and stay connected to their providers via phone while the system waits to reschedule appointments.
Previously, Texas Health reduced the number of entrances and funneled traffic to screening stations, making sure that everyone who entered did not have symptoms, unless they were patients being treated. One visitor is allowed per patient.
“We’re all in,” Berdan said. “We will do whatever is necessary to care for those in need in these unprecedented times.”
UT Southwestern has contacted all of their patients with elective surgeries and procedures to reschedule, and have rescheduled elective surgeries and procedures, and are not scheduling anything until after April 10.
Baylor Scott and White Health system is rescheduling some elective procedures and asking patients to schedule. A statement reads, “Our patients may request or receive requests to reschedule non-clinically urgent procedures or surgeries. We are evaluating each non-clinically urgent procedure and surgery based on our focus on patient safety, protecting the health and safety of our employees, and preserving resources needed to treat patients diagnosed with COVID-19. Based on a case-by-case review, we are cancelling or rescheduling non-urgent elective procedures and surgeries as appropriate.”
At Medical City Healthcare, elective procedures are also being rescheduled. A statement reads, “Following guidelines from both the U.S. Surgeon General and the American College of Surgeons, effective immediately, Medical City Healthcare hospitals and surgery centers will reschedule non-essential surgeries and procedures in order to help minimize further spread of COVID-19. By postponing non-essential and elective surgeries and procedures, we will reserve supplies, resources, and blood products for future patient needs, and limit potential exposure for our patients and caregivers. This will also ensure that the most time-sensitive and medically necessary care can be prioritized and delivered quickly. Essential and emergency procedures and services will continue uninterrupted.”
Methodist Health System didn’t have information relating to nonurgent care, but is limiting visitors, entrances, and screening for symptoms.
A study in Eurosurveillance analyzed the COVID-19 outbreak that occurred on the cruise ship Diamond Princess showed that around 18 percent of those who had the disease did not show symptoms.