CHRISTUS Southeast Texas Health System issues the following response to Governor Abbott’s July 9 order to increase hospital capacities by suspending elective surgeries in certain Texas counties, including Southeast Texas:
CHRISTUS is aware of Governor Abbott’s order relating to the need for increased hospital capacity during the COVID-19 disaster (in Jasper and Jefferson counties). While we fully appreciate the concerns raised by the increased rate of cases in Southeast Texas, we also want to ensure that those in need of care from CHRISTUS are not unnecessarily harmed or forced to delay needed procedures.
The governor’s order allows all elective procedures to continue at facilities that can ensure they would not “deplete any hospital capacity needed to cope with COVID-19.” Therefore, we expect elective outpatient procedures, meaning those that do not require overnight hospital stay, to continue at CHRISTUS Southeast Texas Health System facilities, as they will not deplete hospital capacity for COVID patients. In addition, since the start of the pandemic, we have designated physician review teams at all our CHRISTUS facilities to closely consider proposed inpatient elective surgeries, those requiring a multiple day stay in the hospital, to determine what course of action is in the best interest of the patient. That vital work will continue.
We completely understand and support the governor’s efforts to preserve critical hospital capacity needed to treat possible COVID-19 positive patients. Indeed, for the past several months and continuing today, we have made extensive efforts to ensure the availability of hospital capacity throughout the pandemic. It is also critically important to avoid delaying certain procedures related to heart disease, cancer, vision problems and pain management that could cause undue medical hardships for many patients. In many cases, such procedures not only help to improve quality of life, they actually extend the patient’s life. Delaying or deferring these procedures for an extended period of time may also have the adverse effect of causing a surge in non-COVID-19 related illnesses.
It is always our priority to ensure the safety of our patients, Associates and physicians. Our COVID-19 Safe Care Program has played a vital role in promoting safety during the resumption of elective surgeries and procedures. Under this program, our staff have been properly screened and tested as appropriate for COVID-19. We also screen for asymptomatic COVID-19 infection among our Associates, physicians and surgical patients through antibody testing.
For the safety of all patients, Associates and physicians, and in the interest of limiting exposure to respiratory illness associated with COVID-19, we have a “no visitors” policy in effect at our CHRISTUS Southeast Texas Health System hospitals, which applies to most patients. We require everyone entering our facilities to wear a mask. And we have been able to secure the capacity of PPE needed to safely treat the full spectrum of medical conditions and patient needs.
There is critical work that needs to be done in order to flatten the curve of COVID-19 cases in our communities, and CHRISTUS Southeast Texas is here to answer the call to help – today and tomorrow. In all that we do, we are devoted to keeping our community, our caregivers and our Associates safe. We are here and ready when you need care.