At STAR Physical Therapy, the health of our patients and staff is our top priority. As you may be aware the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) presents an emerging public health threat. Additionally, it is also cold and flu season in Tennessee and Arkansas. As always, we practice the CDC recommended cleaning procedures and protocols to prevent the spread of these viruses and illnesses. We encourage everyone to take the necessary precautions to stay healthy and help us maintain a safe environment for our patients and our staff. While we remain diligent in taking these necessary precautions and alter our daily routines during this global health crisis, we want to let you know that our doors are still open, and will remain open unless we are told otherwise by our governmental leaders. We have considered the question of whether or not to stay open from an ethical perspective. The question pertains to whether or not we, as private practice business owners, are contributing to the rise of the infection curve, versus supporting the flattening of it, by remaining open to see our patients.
We want to share that a memorandum was issued on March 19, 2020, by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security which states:
“If you work in a critical infrastructure industry, as defined by the Department of Homeland Security, such as healthcare services and pharmaceutical and food supply, you have a special responsibility to maintain your normal work schedule.”
The guidance goes on to further define the “essential infrastructure workers” to include “physical and occupational therapists and assistants”. Their advice to our industry is to strive to stay open and treat the patient population during this pandemic. Therefore, we believe that it is our duty to try to meet this guidance and continue to care for our patients’ physical and occupational therapy needs during this time of crisis.
Since our clinics and its staff are included in the specific definition of “essential” healthcare businesses that should strive to stay open and care for patients, we intend to do just that. We can practice within the recommended CDC guidelines and we are following local government mandates. We are here to assist in keeping people healthy; physical and occupational therapists are essential in flattening the curve of the COVID-19 pandemic. We play a key role in keeping people we can help out of physician offices and hospitals. This will not only free up the medical teams to treat those impacted by COVID-19 but also limit the exposure of those seeking care for treatment that a physical or occupational therapist can provide. For those patients who do not need surgery at this time, or if surgery has been delayed, we are here and ready to help get you better.
There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19 infection. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus.
Here are the steps we are taking to help prevent infection and the spread of the virus:
- All employees are screened daily for COVID-19. Staff with respiratory symptoms return home and do not return to work until well.
- All patients are screen to make sure they have not been exposed to COVID-19 and to make sure that they are not exhibiting symptoms (Fever, Cough, and Shortness of Breath). If a patient presents with COVID-19 symptoms they will be advised to return home and contact their healthcare provider for medical advice.
- Only staff and patients are allowed in the treatment areas. If a patient requires assistance or transportation the additional parties will be asked to wait outside until the appointment is completed.
- After each patient encounter, we are washing our hands with soap and water, or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- We are routinely cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces such as; mats, treatment tables, exercise equipment, computer keyboard and mouse, pens, phones, light switches, door handles, faucets, etc.
- We are also washing our hands after every time we cough or sneeze.
During this time we are asking for help maintaining a safe environment for yourself, our patients, and our staff:
- Before you start treatment please take a minute to wash your hands or use hand sanitizer.
- It is allergies season. When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue – discard tissue immediately into a closed bin.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- If you have symptoms of any respiratory infection (e.g., cough, runny nose) please call ahead to reschedule your appointment or schedule a TeleRehab visit, if appropriate.
- If you have a fever please refrain from coming to the clinic until you have been fever-free for 24 hours.