Texas provider leadership tout new flexibility for COVID-19 fight

Gov. Greg Abbott’s flurry of waivers and suspension of rules to bolster the health care workforce in Texas is all part of a strategy to release more specialists into emergency rooms to care for the rush of COVID-19 patients, the head of the Texas Medical Association said this week.

Dr. David Fleeger, who took over as president of the TMA in 2019, said Abbott’s order to allow the temporary licensing for certain retired physicians does not mean they will be treating COVID-19 patients. Many will be doing triage duty in clinics or handling other cases that require attention. Trauma specialists will then be released to handle the direst cases involving the virus, Fleeger said.



“Our pulmonary doctors and intensive care doctors are relatively few in number so now they will be getting help from other doctors in the hospital to allow the specialists to step up the ladder and do the work that will be needed. We will still have heart attacks, strokes and broken legs to deal with and those people being brought on will help with that.”

“I’m a rectal surgeon so you won’t see me on the floor running an IV drip.  I will be talking to patients, assessing what they need, what kind of care we can steer them to.”

Serena Bumpus, director of practice of the Texas Nurses Association, said Texas is among several states that are calling up retired nurses or temporarily lifting licensing requirements to get more nurses into hospitals and clinics.

Nurses still have to be reviewed by state and local officials to be cleared to practice in Texas. Bumpus said she has put herself on the list of nurses than can be called to service if warranted.

“We are still nurses. We still have the skills necessary to take care of patients.”