While the coronavirus pandemic continues to be front and center in the news and in the thoughts of many people, other health issues have not gone away. People are still getting back and neck pain, overuse injuries and hurt while at work. Many of these people would benefit from seeing a physical therapist, but some of them are reluctant because of concerns over COVID-19. That's understandable, PT clinics are busy places, with lots of people coming and going, right? They used to be, but things are different now. Just like every other business and public place, PT clinics have made changes to allow them to continue to serve patients while keeping both patients and staff safe. Here are some common changes clinics have made to reduce the risk of COVID spreading among patients and staff.
Scheduling and patient flow
- Clinics have reduced the total number of people they see each day to allow for social distancing in the clinic
- Many clinics are using a staggered schedule to avoid people coming in at the same time
- Many clinics have implemented a "virtual waiting room" having people wait in their car and notifying them when their clinician is ready via a phone call or text message
- When possible, clinics may be using separate entry and exit points
- Clinics may be screening patients and staff as they enter the building using questions, temperature checks, or other means
- Clinics may have designated areas for each clinician and their patients to reduce contact between different groups of people
- Equipment will likely be spaced out further than you're used to and there may be less of it to allow for more distancing between patients
- Many clinics are leaning more heavily on telehealth when appropriate for patients to reduce the number of patients physically present in the clinic
Physical therapists are medical professionals who were trained to deal with infectious diseases and keep people safe long before COVID-19 existed. By making changes throughout their workflows and patient experiences, physical therapy practices have reduced the risk of spreading COVID among their staff and patient populations, while continuing to deliver needed services to the public. If you are in need of PT treatment, but are hesitant to go into the clinic, give your PT a call and talk about what policies and procedures they have in place. To reduce or eliminate going into the clinic, ask about using telehealth either exclusively or in combination with in-person treatment. This is a time of uncertainty, but people are reacting with flexibility and creativity. Don't let concerns over COVID keep you in pain or from the treatment you need.