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Texas recruits 2,500 medical personnel to help hospitals with COVID-19 surge

According to the governor, this first deployment of personnel will be fully funded by the State through Sept. 30.

AUSTIN, Texas — Gov. Greg Abbott and the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) have arranged for the recruitment and deployment of 2,500 out-of-state medical personnel to help Texas hospitals deal with increasing numbers of COVD-19 patients across the state.

According to the governor, this first deployment of personnel will be fully funded by the State through Sept. 30.

The news follows a directive earlier this week that Texas use staffing agencies to provide out-of-state medical help as hospitals are overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients. Hospitalizations have been rapidly rising, fueled by the highly contagious delta variant and lagging vaccination rates.

"The State of Texas is taking action to ensure that our hospitals are properly staffed and supported in the fight against COVID-19," said Gov. Abbott on Wednesday. "Texans can help bolster the state's efforts to combat the virus by getting vaccinated. The COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective, and it is our best defense against the virus."

DSHS said it has informed cities, counties and health care facilities it will resume filling requests for medical surge staff that cannot be met locally. It said the priority is to recruit staff from out of state and it has directed the staffing agencies not to utilize staff from other Texas health care facilities.

“Facilities should continue to work with their counties, cities and other partners to meet needs locally whenever possible,” DSHS said in a release on Wednesday. “DSHS is asking facilities and local governments to be judicious with their requests because there is a limited supply of staff available, and all regions of the state need assistance.”

DSHS said extended staff deployments may require cost sharing by local governments or individual facilities.

Other directives announced this week include a letter to the Texas Hospital Association asking hospitals to voluntarily postpone elective medical procedures, for which a delay will not result in a loss of life or deterioration of a patient’s condition, to increase hospital capacity for COVID-19 patients.

Last year, the governor signed an executive order that forced hospitals to stop doing elective procedures if COVID-19 patients took up more than 15% of hospital beds in a region, but he reversed that rule last month.

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