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What you need to know about order suspending elective surgeries

Not sure if your surgery qualifies? Be sure to talk to your doctor.

HOUSTON — Gov. Greg Abbott is making his first moves in rolling back reopening Thursday. He signed an order postponing all elective surgeries in four major counties – Bexar, Dallas, Harris and Travis.

There are two types of surgery: emergency and elective. Emergency surgery treats an urgent medical condition, possibly to save a life. Elective is any surgery that can be scheduled in advance.

After the shutdown, Abbott started allowing elective surgeries again on April 22, but starting Friday night, at 11:59pm, hospitals in those four Texas counties can no longer do them.

But this time it’s a little different.

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“This is not as restrictive as it was previously," Dr. Faisal Masud, medical director for the Center for Critical Care at Houston Methodist, said.

Dr. Masud says the policy is still new.

“I think every institution has to look at this order and make policies from that," Dr. Masud said.

Abbott is telling hospitals to “postpone all surgeries and procedures that are not immediately, medically necessary.”

As for whether or not this applies to your surgery, call your doctor.

“To talk to them. What is really elective and not elective and what does it mean? In the order, there is, as I am led to believe, there is a lot more flexibility to do that," Dr. Masud said.

The goal is to ease capacity in hospitals, to preserve bed space for coronavirus patients, but the actual impact of postponing these surgeries can not only be heartbreaking for patients, Dr. David Persse with Houston Health Department says it can be financially crippling for a hospital.

“Especially after the shut down when the hospitals created great capacity, they lost millions and millions of dollars. No business can be expected to take those kinds of losses and keep on going," Dr. Persse said.

Hospitals in the Texas Medical Center issued a joint statement saying in part, they “hope that the executive order will only be in place for a short period of time."

Dr. Masud says while the order may help, the real change will come from the public doing their part not to spread the virus.

Here's a look at the governor's order: 

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