Empower Physical Therapy IS an Essential Business

calendar March 26, 2020

To all of our Valued Patients, 

Depending on where you live, many areas of the United States have issued a “stay at home” or “shelter in place” order.  For most of us it’s the first time we’ve experienced something like this so what does this actually mean?

It means that all but essential services and businesses are being required to close. Gas stations, grocery stores, and critical industries will remain open. People were urged not to hoard items from grocery stores as there is no food shortage.  Takeout and delivery restaurant orders will still be permitted. Those businesses permitted to remain in operation must practice social distancing. Residents will still be permitted to make trips in order to get groceries and other essential tasks, including those for work functions. People can still go outside in order to exercise and get fresh air so long as they maintain a safe distance from others.

During this time Empower Physical Therapy will remain open. This includes Empower Physical Therapy locations in Arizona, CoasTherapy locations in California, Affiliated Therapy Services in Louisiana, and Orthopedic Physical Therapy and Amistad Physical Therapy in Texas.  

Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy are considered “Essential Businesses” and will continue to operate during a Shelter in Place Order. Please know 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 clinic 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 are able to 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 as many people as we can out of emergency rooms, 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.  The CDC has listed Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy clinics as low risk facilities due to the ability to prevent close contact by limiting each person in the facility to at minimum a 6-foot distance to each other.  

Here are the steps we are taking to help to prevent infection and the limit spread of the virus.

  • All employees are screened daily for COVID-19.  Staff with ANY symptoms are instructed to not report to work and only return to work when they are well.
  • All patients are screened for COVID-19 signs, symptoms, risk factors before allowing them to proceed with any treatment session.  No symptomatic patients are being seen.
  • We are practicing social distancing and have reduced the number of patients being seen in each clinic to provide a safe environment and a more personalized approach to your care. 
  • Before and after each patient encounter, we are washing our hands with soap and hot water, or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • We are covering our coughs and sneezes and also washing our hands after every time we cough or sneeze.
  • We are routinely cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces such as; mats, treatment tables, exercise equipment, computer keyboard and mice, pens, phones, light switches, door handles, faucets, etc.  This would also include disinfecting our lobby furniture after each patient leaves the waiting area.  

During this time, we are asking for Patients to help us in maintaining a safe environment.

  • Please take a minute to wash your hands or use hand sanitizer when you first walk inside.
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue – discard tissue immediately into a closed bin and wash your hands immediately.  
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • If you have symptoms of any respiratory infection (e.g., cough, runny nose, difficulty breathing) please consult your medical provider.  You must postpone your physical therapy appointments until you are fully well.
  • If you have a fever, please consult your medical provider and refrain from coming to the clinic.   Remember you must be fever-free for at least 3 days without medication in order to be safe. Again, work closely with and follow instructions from your medical provider.  

Thank you for allowing us to continue to help you return to your normal level of function and for helping to keep our facilities safe for all who are in attendance.