AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin code inspectors, tasked with ensuring all the new city-wide orders are being fully complied with, have been busy.
An anonymous tip brought them to Texas Fertility Center on Thursday morning, where doctors were forced to temporarily pause their appointments.
The medical director at the center called into question the city, state and public’s responsibility to one another during the ongoing coronavirus crisis.
“It’s a waste of everyone’s time. It’s so unfortunate. We understand it but it’s so unfortunate,” Dr. Kaylen Silverberg said. “Practicing medicine is hard. Practicing medicine at a time like this is really hard.”
Over the past week, Mayor Steve Adler has ordered a shelter-in-place, allowing only essential businesses to continue operating until April 13. City officials have also been asking Austinites to abide by commonly-suggested CDC guidelines of maintaining six-feet of social distancing of groups less than 10.
Texas Fertility Center was not cited on Thursday.
The doctor said the inspector told them they were fully compliant with all codes. The city’s emergency management team also clarified that doctors are deemed essential by city standards.
But physicians in Texas also have another set of eyes on them which is changing the way they are currently practice medicine.
On Monday, Governor Greg Abbott demanded all healthcare providers postpone any elective and non-essential medical procedures and surgeries. His executive order attempts to free up hospital space and preserve personal protective equipment for doctors and nurses treating COVID-19.
Dr. Silverberg said he has postponed elective procedures for his patients and is only continuing work he deems essential. His procedures are not using up hospital space or wasting personal protective equipment, he said.
“When people question the value of whether or not we are essential, it raises all of those stereotypes, stigmas and myths about fertility and fertility treatment,” Dr. Silverberg said. “We have to make judgement calls and the governor was very clear in his executive order to leave these decisions to the patient’s physician.”
Carly Sansom, who has been receiving IVF treatments at Texas Medical Center for several months, was shocked to hear about the code inspectors visit to the doctor.
“This is absolutely essential and our bodies aren’t stopping just because the government says so,” Sansom said. “I think that we entrust our care in doctors to make the right decisions in many regards and this is no exception.”
City officials still want you to call 311 if you notice violations. But they encourage you to get as much information as possible beforehand in case they want to vet your report before sending out an inspector.