DALLAS — Wednesday evening, the Texas Medical Board sent an email to its members, asking for their assistance.
The email was titled "Call For Retired Licensees and Out-Of-State Providers," and in it, the Texas Medical Board reminded their members that retirees and out-of-state doctors and other healthcare professionals can currently fast-track the process to come work in Texas, thanks to an executive order Governor Greg Abbott signed in March.
"We encourage our Texas licensees to share this information with any out-of-state or recently retired colleagues that you may know," the email finished.
"What we're finding is bed capacity is not as much of an issue as staffing capacity is," said Texas Medical Board President Dr. Sherif Zaafran, a Houston anesthesiologist.
But for some, the email was more than just a reminder; it was a commentary on our state's current COVID-19 crisis. Nearly 10,000 people are in Texas hospitals, fighting the virus.
"I think the impression I have is it's telling of the status of the situation we're in," Dr. Mark Casanova said of the email. "That this is really, truly a disaster situation. An emergency situation."
Casanova is the president of the Dallas County Medical Society, and he's also on the Texas Medical Association's COVID-19 task force.
"There's a reason [the email] went out right now," he said. "And that reason is what we're seeing unfolding in our hospitals."
Dr. John Carlo, who's also on the COVID-19 task force, received the email, too. It didn't surprise him, but said it was clear everyone is worried.
"Our health care system has been at this full speed since March," Carlo said. "So anything we can do to relieve our front-line health care workers even for a shift, I think it’s important to do."
Both Dr. Carlo and Dr. Casanova said the email felt a bit like what we saw unfold in New York in the spring, where Governor Andrew Cuomo made impassioned, public pleas for healthcare help.
"If you don't have a health care crisis in your community, please come help us in New York now," Cuomo said in March.
Dr. Zaafran said thousands of out-of-state health care providers have already begun helping in Texas since March, mainly in tele-health. But they still need more.
"We're trying to stay ahead of the curve on this," he said.
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