BEAUMONT, Texas — Texas hospitals will once again be able to perform elective surgeries starting on Wednesday after state restrictions required them to be put on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gov. Greg Abbott loosened restrictions for doctors last week, but some are voicing concern about the decision. He originally issued an order on March 22 to halt all elective procedures and surgeries.
Keeping Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in the hands of healthcare personnel has been a challenge as the US continues fighting the illness. Some people are questioning if it's a good idea to begin opening up more services, like elective surgeries because of the strain on the PPE supply.
12News' sister station in Houston spoke with a couple of medical staff members about the supply of PPE.
Tom Banning says the lack of resources doctors are receiving is upsetting.
"How we have treated our front line physicians and our other first responders, you know you wouldn't put a soldier into battle with nothing," Banning said.
At Houston Methodist Hospital, Firas Zabaneh says PPE was steadily supplied, but things have changed.
"Until recently, we were in a very good situation related to PPE, right now we're in a situation where we might need to ask for help," Zabaneh said.
In Southeast Texas, Ryan Miller with CHRISTUS Southeast Texas Health System, says the supply is stable.
"We're now at a point where we are confident in saying that our PPE levels are sufficient," Miller said.
Gov. Abbott's executive order to once again allow elective surgeries comes with stipulations.
"Procedures that you can do safely, in a safe environment, that won't impact a hospital's PPE levels and that won't impact a hospital's capacity to care for COVID-19 patients," Miller said.
Like many other Texas hospitals, CHRISTUS will resume elective surgeries on April 22.
That includes Beaumont Bone & Joint and Jasper Memorial Hospital.St. Elizabeth Outpatient Pavilion will begin on April 23.
To help keep everyone safe, Dr. James Molina says medical staff and surgeons will be given an antibody test before a surgery starts to ensure there is no trace of the virus before the procedure.
"Even if they have no symptoms, we want to make sure they are not silent carriers. If there is any positivity with the antibody test, they will be re-scheduled 14 days out," Molina said.
CHRISTUS says they'll slowly work in the number of elective surgeries, starting with just a few during the first week.
CHRISTUS is also involved with a “convalescent plasma” program where people who have recovered from COVID-19 can donate their blood to help someone who is battling the virus. People who have recovered develop antibodies to fight off virus, which can help those who are still sick. To donate, they can call 409-236-2299 and are encouraged to leave message if phones are busy.