Governor Abbott Permits Certain Medical Procedures, Updates Guidelines for Senior Care Facilities

April 17, 2020 | Insights

By Amanda Crouch

On April 17, 2020, Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued Executive Order No. GA-15 relating to hospital capacity and personal protective equipment (PPE) needed for the COVID-19 response. This order continues a prior exception that had been set to expire on April 21, 2020 and creates a new exception to restrictions on surgeries and other elective procedures the governor imposed in an earlier executive order handed down in March.

Under GA-15, all licensed healthcare professionals and facilities must continue to postpone all surgeries and procedures that are not medically necessary to diagnose or correct a serious medical condition of, or to preserve the life of, a patient who without timely performance of the surgery or procedure would be at risk for serious adverse medical consequences or death as determined by the patient’s physician.

However, beginning at 11:59 pm on April 21 through 11:50 pm on May 8, the following are excepted from the Governor’s prohibition:

  • Any procedure that will not deplete the hospital capacity or PPE needed to respond to COVID-19; or
  • Any surgery or procedure performed in a licensed health care facility that has certified in writing to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission: (1) that it will reserve at least 25% of its hospital capacity for treatment of COVID-19 patients, accounting for the range of clinical severity of such patients; and (2) that it will not request any personal protective equipment from any public source – whether federal, state, or local – for the duration of the COVID-19 disaster.

Governor Abbott also issued Executive Order No. GA-16 relating to the strategic reopening of select services and activities as the first step to open Texas in response to COVID-19. Citing CDC guidelines, GA-16 prohibits people from visiting nursing homes, state-supported living centers, assisted living facilities, or long-term care facilities except to provide critical assistance, as by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC). Additionally, GA-16 instructs nursing homes, state-supported living centers, assisted living facilities, and long-term care facilities to follow infection control policies and practices set forth by the HHSC, including minimizing the movement of staff between facilities whenever possible.

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