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  • APTA Wants To Hear From You About Your COVID-19 Experiences

    Are you on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic? APTA would like to hear from PTs, PTAs, and students about their experiences.

    The COVID-19 pandemic continues to change lives in dramatic ways, with more to come even after the crisis ends. APTA wants to know how you're doing.

    For example:

    • How are you meeting the needs of your patients under current conditions?
    • Are you volunteering to make a difference in your community?
    • Are you transitioning to or retraining for a new setting?
    • What challenges are you overcoming in your clinic or facility that are specific to your setting or patient population?
    • What advice would you give to other PTs facing similar challenges?

    “APTA is committed to helping all PTs, PTAs, and students navigate this crisis," says Heidi Kosakowski, PT, DPT, APTA senior practice specialist. "One PT’s experience could help another in their decision-making process — and help APTA elevate the collective voice of our members.”

    If you would like to share your story, you can submit via APTA Engage. Responses may be published in APTA publications or on APTA's website.

    Comments

    • After my employer struggled with some of the Medicare cuts we failed to fend off, I was laid off due to the corona virus decline. So I am sad, broke, and disappointed.

      Posted by Michael Koon on 4/1/2020 6:40 PM

    • Without getting into too much detail here, the therapists in our hospital have seen a significant reduction in weekly hours as most have seen throughout the country. The management has elected to keep our OP department open and initially requested us to use our PTO during this time of low census. Now that our PTO is almost gone, we have been told we will have both a combination of unpaid time as well as repositioned hours within the hospital to areas of need. While I am greatful to still be working, the details of this repositioning are vague, with a broad variety of placements likely within the hospital - including pt screenings at entrances and assistance on the acute care wings. I know I am not alone in this situation based on the countless posts I have seen written from therapists all across the country within our various social networking groups. Once offered a repositioned job, therapists are essentially ineligible for unemployment and often placed in compromised situations due to the current global shortage of PPE. President Trump and several members of congress are already discussing/anticpiating a second stimulus bill to help ease healthcare burden. A specific point mentioned in this potential new bill was hazard pay for healthcare workers. As an APTA member, I would like to formally request that we begin advocating for our profession to be included in this. My concern is that if we don't begin advocating now, our profession will get overlooked (as it often unfortunately does) once this next bill is drafted. There are countless therapists still out there providing direct patient care as well as being repositioned to the front lines. I don't feel great about asking for money in times of need, but this hazard pay could help offset the costs of being trapped between reduced hours at work vs unemployment. I have already done my part and written to my state senators and have yet to receive their computer generated responses. I would ask that you please strongly consider this request and start the process of acting now.

      Posted by Vince on 4/1/2020 6:52 PM

    • We are in the frontlines as we take care of primary caregivers and military personnel for the past thirteen years. I am an owner of a small private practice and we are able to stay open for now as we are an essential service and we have strict universal precautions and we do not have more than 8-10 people inside our clinic at any one time. We have to adjust our times and make sure people we are seeing wait in the car and call before they enter the clinic. We also use the screening criteria to ensure that we do not see any patient that has any of the symptoms mentionned but the CDC and this includes those who have gone on a recent cruise and have travelled by air in the states that have seen a spike in covid cases. We have been able to maintain our business as we also have trained the team to adjust to the new reality by training them on how to do telehealth as a new resource and home visits. We are constantly watching for any new developments on how to prevent the spread of this virus but there is joy in our patients place knowing we are there to support them through their post operative care and they are appreciative of our energetic and compassionate care as most are struggling to maintain their independence throughout this crisis. Our A&M Therapy teams primary focus is on one on one care and staying small as a private practice as we believe each person deserves an environment where they are respected and shown dignity and one that is focused on outcomes and not just profit. I believe this is the reason why our patients continue to thrive in this pandemic and we have helped them not become immunocompromised as a result. We have had to make a lot of adjustments and we monitored spacing needs as well during this period. We respect that we may have to close if the government mandates that all essential services must close and we have also made sure that our therapists take time off if they need to spend time with their family. We thank all of the people in the frontlines who demonstrate compassion throughout this crisis and we will be here to provide essential services as long as we can. The focus on keeping clients away from each other and physical spacing is the most important change in how we perform our business. We are truly concerned about the professionals who are shaming those of us who follow the code of ethics and professionalism in how we do our business.

      Posted by Dr Amado Mendoza,DPT on 4/1/2020 7:09 PM

    • Working in homecare and continuing to meet the needs of my patients with minimal PPE, minimal guidance and continuing to do my own research to keep my patients, myself, and my family safe. Vision 2020 was unfulfilled, in 10 years all I've seen is medicare cuts to PT and a lack of value placed on DPT. Now eith a nationwide pandemic we are in the frontlines without a thank you or any commitment for loan forgiveness nor even guidance Dissappointing at best! I love my patients but that's it.

      Posted by Kristin on 4/1/2020 8:19 PM

    • I work in acute care at a level one trauma center. I just don’t understand why social distancing meaning stay 6 feet away is so important but I can’t be provided with a mask to treat patients that I am sometimes face to face with. We have a separate civic unit and i have not had the opportunity to work in that unit yet. I know supplies need to be managed but this job is impossible to do and social distance. I now go straight home, strip in my garage and head to the shower.

      Posted by Linda jester on 4/1/2020 9:38 PM

    • Outpatient Physical Therapy in the Midst of a Global Pandemic: Helpful or Harmful? At the outpatient physical therapy facility I work in, we are still treating patients and asking a set of “screening” questions when they call to make new appointments. These are yes or no questions about symptoms and travel and we have no way of knowing if patients are truthful or not. We have moved waiting room chairs, have “clean” and “dirty” pen bins, and have plenty of sanitizer on hand for our patients. We do not take temperatures when patients enter the clinic, nor do all of our clinics have face masks or gloves. Outpatient facilities generally do not keep large stock of these, and now they are practically impossible to get. As the governing body of PTs, nationwide, the APTA should have clear guidelines for outpatient PTs on hygiene and PPE. Being told to treat one on one is not always feasible, and in small clinics, with multiple clinicians, its not always possible to keep 6ft of distance. Because of this, and the manual nature of our jobs, we should have PPE guidelines. The irony lies here: most PT’s have spent years, the majority of their careers, getting MDs/RNs/DCs to understand the value and importance of PT, to be deemed “essential” for a patients’ plan of care. We are, after all, the primary care go to for musculoskeletal injury, pain and disability. And now, in the midst of a global pandemic, the CDC has deemed us “essential”. The APTA should provide input as to what type of PT is essential. Is outpatient PT considered “essential”? In some cases, yes-post op THA or TKAS, traumatic surgeries, severe MVAs; but to not provide more clarity around what is deemed as essential is egregious. In times of a global crisis, the majority of outpatient PT cases can be postponed or moved to a telehealth platform. The CDC has reported that 25% of COVID-19 carriers are asymptomatic (Mandavilli, 3/31/2020, New York Times)-with the number of patients coming in and out of our clinics, PT’s could be asymptomatic themselves, or could be coming in contact with asymptomatic carriers regularly, this is perpetuating the curve and not “flattening” it. Physical therapy should not be contributing to the spread. And if outpatient PT really is deemed “essential” during a global pandemic, should we not be well equipped to handle this, by at the very least, being provided PPE? This is not the voice of a weary PT who wants a few weeks of paid leave to sit at home-this is the voice of an outpatient PT/clinic director who believes outpatient PT’s are currently being underutilized as healthcare workers. In a time of shortage of licensed staff, when we are calling on retired doctors and nurses, PTs should be re-purposed to help on the frontlines at hospitals: to take medical history, take vital signs, help transport patients and create areas of triage for incoming patients; as each of us have learned as part of standard PT curriculum. As DOCTORS OF PHYSICAL THERAPY, we can do more.

      Posted by Anonymous on 4/1/2020 11:53 PM

    • I work in a small outpatient sports medicine clinic with 2 PTs and one PTA (myself). We have obviously had a significant decrease in our patient load, as I’m sure majority of clinics have, and rightfully so. We have given our patients the option to continue coming to PT or choosing to stay home. To do our part, we are cleaning every inch of our clinic constantly; if a patient touches something, we go in immediately after to clean it. We ask all patients that even if they THINK they are feeling sick, to please stay home. We are also limiting how many patients are in the gym at one time to comply with the 10 people rule. I am so thankful that I am still working, because so many are not, and that I’m getting paid and not being forced to leave. However, I am sadly conflicted. With PT, “social distancing” is nearly impossible, especially with manual therapy. I also feel guilty for being considered an “essential” during this awful pandemic, because although the therapy we do is important, it is not something such as TIRR rehab. My patients are going to be just fine if they don’t come into PT. I can give 95% of them a HEP, and I know they’d be okay for a month. Although we are considered sports medicine, our patients age range from 50-85, which is vulnerable for this virus. Personally, my anxiety has been so awful going into work every day because we are making these patients come in and potentially putting their lives at risk when truly, they don’t need/have to come in. I’d feel so much more at ease if they stayed home. I would hate for one of my patients to possibly get sick because they left their home and some how contracted the virus by coming to non essential PT. I am aware that this is their choice, but most of my patients have said they coming to PT is almost a relief because it is the only time they are able to leave their home. Which I am thankful we can be and out for these patients, but unfortunately, that is the only way to stop this virus from spreading is by STAYING HOME. I have heard of other clinics in other states that are not seeing patients 70+ to not put them at risk. I have also heard of clinics doing Telemedicine visits with patients to check in, which I think is great. My head PT, she tries to get patients to come in 3 times a week if they are able to keep the business flowing, which I understand, but I feel like this is unnecessary at this time. However, that is not really my part to say that. Again, I’m thankful to be working and getting paid, but is it worth putting lives at risk? Absolutely not. However, this is my opinion.

      Posted by Emily Brown on 4/2/2020 4:58 AM

    • PTAs being furloughed or given less hours in the level one trauma hospital where I work. Our census has dropped and apparently don’t need us. They’re telling us we can be put in a pool and be sent to other jobs around the hospital. ie: transport, nurses aides, screening visitors etc... I’ll have no choice but put myself into this pool because I need to pay my bills.

      Posted by Patricia on 4/2/2020 5:47 AM

    • Working at an outpatient orthopedic setting inside an acute care hospital. We have triaged our patients so that we are only seeing people with intractable pain or acutely post-op. We are discouraging people over 65 from coming in. We have 5 therapists and right now, I'm the only one with a caseload that allows me to work 3 days a week (it just so happened that many of my current patients were post op). The hospital has stepped up and is giving us masks to wear. We wipe down everything thoroughly. Other therapists without a caseload or with a low caseload can do temp screenings or float to other departments, or take either PTO or unpaid leave (but with guarantee that benefits will still continue). I feel my hospital is doing a great job so far. I've been exposed to one patient who was later tested for the virus, but it has been 3.5 weeks since our last contact and I'm still feeling fine. My local community is slow to adapt to changes and many are resisting the stay at home order, but I feel like my hospital is doing everything it can to be on the right side of this.

      Posted by Jen on 4/2/2020 9:44 AM

    • Hi, I am a Pt with the country's largest PT chain. I am furloughed- we were told late Friday and given a phone number to call in to on Saturday. I tried and could not get through. We are not supposed to contact local managers, and HR give no info. Not impressed to say the least by their handling of the situation. I think you can still show some compassion for all affected.

      Posted by Jean on 4/2/2020 11:47 AM

    • I work as a PTA in a SNF. We are being told there are no N95 masks and that we have to wear a procedure mask for a week with a washable mask over it. We aren't being paid to clean the masks at home every evening, which is a work related activity according to the FLSA. We are also being told we have to use our own PTO if we get sick. We aren't getting a raise and we aren't getting a bonus, even though I haven't had a raise in years thanks to Medicare cuts. Between the constant cuts and unreasonable increases in productivity expectations, I'm ready to leave the field altogether. I have panic attacks every day before work and I cry more often than I laugh. I am suffering stress-induced vertigo as well. I try my best to take care of myself by exercising, eating healthy, meditating, getting sleep, etc., but this stress is just too much to bear for very much longer. I have been saving up for a house this past year and am considering quitting my job and liv9ng off that money, much as I don't want to delay purchasing a home that much longer. We shouldn't have to choose between potential death and a paycheck. I feel nurses and doctors signed up for this sort of scenario, but those of us in the PT world definitely did not.

      Posted by Jennifer on 4/2/2020 6:43 PM

    • Being asked to treat business as usual in the homecare setting. No vetting of patients, one mask for weeks on end now. Treating patients in assisted living, patients suspected could have the virus, then going to an ortho patient. Full caseload, no daycare for my kids. My wife and I, her being an OT, are being asked to see 26 units although we do have several full time PTAs, we "must meet units". Absurd and delusional company that will eventually get my family or some patients family sick.

      Posted by Jared on 4/3/2020 9:40 AM

    • I work in outpatient pediatrics within a community clinic. We have mostly switched to telehealth, but do not currently have the ability to do video visits. We are still having families to come to the clinic for any evaluations, any progress notes, and treatments if the family declined telehealth. We are leaving the decision up to the family, and as HCPs I feel that it is our duty to adhere to the safest recommendations. I am really disappointed by this policy, especially since we have an urgent care with COVID testing on the same floor as my department. We don't have PPE for our department. It seems irresponsible and unethical for us to allow this. I have raised my concerns several times and they have been ignored. I am keeping up hope that things change soon so we can stop putting our families, babies, and children at risk. For now, I am grateful to have a job and still be able to support my families via telephone.

      Posted by M on 4/3/2020 12:19 PM

    • I am a PT working in a rural, minority majority community with known COVID-19 spread. Many of my patients do not have access to internet and English is their second language. As a result, health literacy and information transfer is relatively low. I treat mostly worker's compensation patients who are still being referred/told to continue therapy by their doctors or case managers. Many people here are not abiding by the social distancing rules put in place by the governor. As of two weeks ago, I had discharged all of my 70+ patients to a HEP. However, I am still seeing 8-12 patients per day. I am lucky enough to have obtained an N95 mask from a friend who is 3D printing them and we are screening patients for symptoms and exposure as they walk in the door. Despite this, I feel constant anxiety going into work every day knowing that I could spread this virus. I feel that I am risking my own and others' health by continuing to work. I feel as though my time and skills would be better utilized triaging patients or taking vitals at a hospital where there is an urgent demand for healthcare workers. Management continues to place profits above people by calling patients to convince them to come to therapy even if they are anxious about being in public, spreading false information, and downplaying the very real facts of this virus. Placing PT as an "essential" business at this unprecedented time does far more harm than good. I understand that acute care PT may be essential at this time, but OP ortho certainly is not. I have spoken to representatives from my state's Department of Health, but the only guidance I have received is to cancel non urgent appointments and maintain social distancing within the clinic. I am disappointed in the lack of guidance from the APTA, state DOH, and the management of my company.

      Posted by Anonymous on 4/4/2020 6:12 PM

    • I work in a small outpatient ortho clinic, like many who have commented above. It seems this is a practice area with very little solid guidance. That may because NO ONE really knows what to do. Our clinic, already quite small, is down to one PT (myself), one PTA, and one tech. We clean the clinic and our hands fanatically. We will be wearing surgical masks as of this week - based on current CDC general recommendations. Mind you, I had to dig a few masks out of an old bin of leftover home care equipment that I (thankfully) had. We do not have any PPE except gloves at our clinic and, of course, we cannot purchase them anywhere anytime soon. We have ordered infrared thermometers but who knows when those will arrive. We have at most 3 patients in the clinic at one time, usually only 1 or 2, allowing us to easily maintain a substantial distance between clients. We are booking some pts in with more time per pt. We have all had our hours cut by almost half, and we are all hourly workers. But we are still providing a service to those in the community who still really need our interventions that cannot be done over the phone. The patients who come into our clinic are those who feel their care is worth the risk of contracting this virus. I feel then that is my duty to show up to work and provide that care in the safest environment as possible. We have informed our patients that we do the best we can but cannot guarantee they won't be exposed to COVID-19. Most of our at-risk patients (and many others) have already put a hold on their own therapy. So we now have a steadier - albeit MUCH smaller - caseload, which will hopefully allow us to afford to keep our doors open, if for only limited hours. I am lucky - I have a great boss who is trying to do his best by all his employees and still run a viable business. We are all making sacrifices. But I feel we still need to do our best to serve our community, as our professional code of ethics demands.

      Posted by Terri D., PT, DPT on 4/6/2020 2:51 AM

    • I am employed as PRN PT by three employers: SNF, home health and out patient. The out patient company furloughed me from my regular work hours (two days a week 8-12 hours/week $400-600/week) with a nice letter for unemployment. I’m not unemployed because I can still take work right now from HH and SNF if they offered it. HH is not calling me because they don’t need help. I’m refusing SNF weekend work bc $45 is not worth getting COVID19 because they can’t provide N95 masks. Is the hassle of applying for unemployment worth it? I’m not likely to qualify. I’d like to work if only we could get the PPE. Anyone else in this boat with any ideas??

      Posted by Jennifer on 4/11/2020 9:21 AM

    • I am an over 60 yr old PT. Our hospital attached outpatient clinic was slow to prescreen new or existing patients and system wide was told to work “business as usual”. After state issued stay at home we took it upon ourselves to add additional questions regarding possible patient exposures, moved equipment to try to maintain social distancing, and, as we are provided with non hospital daily housekeeping, did increase cleaning and sanitizing. We were discouraged from wearing masks to avoid “scaring” patients. We also took to calling patients ahead of their routine appointments. We had possible exposures from patients who still attended without disclosing that they were ill with “allergies” or “just a cold” who were feverish (taken with one of the staff’s own thermometers), had been election judges, or a day after attending and working in an open gym, called to report a family member in the residence was told they likely were COVID+ (our state has limited testing). The stress was unbelievable. Initially we were encouraged to utilize PTO to keep out hours and then a Pandemic float pool was initiated. I applied for a personal LOA that was denied and worked the limited hours and was called off frequently as patients began to be compliant with stay at home state orders. Fast forward to now we are temperature checked, given mask to reuse, and and our hours are in the float pool to maintain our status-scheduled on a 2 week basis. If our outpatient schedule suddenly changed we must contact the float pool. We are working as PPE validations, temperature checking at any entrances anytime/anywhere 24/7 to keep hours. We are part of a larger system and our sister sites are assisting nursing in proning. We cannot switch any job status to registry, take PTO, and can be disciplined /terminated for refusing assignments as of 4/9. I elected to resign for my own health and to protect my senior parents (who are living independently but not abiding any safety measures). I will try unemployment as under COVID it may still be approved as I tried to negotiate safer work situations. I’ve been an outpatient PT running my own site for 13 yr in a satellite that was closed when our hospital was merged into this system and then brought over to the hospital based location. If PTs are going to be assisting side by side our heroic 1st line professionals we need additional training and APTA support, much like our fellow physiotherapists have published outside the US. Unfortunate and sudden end to a 40+ career with advanced education in industrial, etc.

      Posted by Elizabeth on 4/12/2020 9:09 AM

    • I don't understand...we have taken on the title of "essential" yet....once Covid positive in a short term subacute rehab ..we can't accept any admissions. Now we're being told our workload is dropping and we will have to go to other facilities that are covid positive not only by workers but patients too. We are told we won't be providing therapy as there isn't enough work....yet we will be doing ADLs, laundry, passing food trays, restocking supplies. Yeah....that's right...so my question is..."how is therapy so essential when during such a time....the CDC wipes our profession off the map?" I have a skill level ..I have a license that states what I am suppose to do in a health care setting. I have yet to get Covid...yet I can't get a test to see if I possess antibodies that may have already fought this disease. What should be done...isn't done...and we are thrown on the front lines for truly diddly. We were made essential to be a body count for things to get done. During the heat of a pandemic...no therapy is truly happening if the CDC controls admissions. Hey...if I can be a covid virgin....and sent to some contaminated site...why can't patients be admitted.?? If proper cleaning and hand washing are occurring...nobody gets hurt here. But I can tell you...WE ARENT ESSENTIAL TO BE SANTAS LITTLE HELPERS. THATS BOGUS AND INSULTING. Considering we work holidays for STRAIGHT TIME..and are expected to just do it....we haven't had a raise in 5 YEARS....government and insurance companies are cutting us off at the knees but now we're suppose to just run right in the burning building. We don't get acknowledged and we don't get rewards...so essential my big toe. This isn't a profession anymore...it is a joke. Oh...by the way...sign me up to fold laundry. Shame on the world. I say therapists find a way to work from home so they can look out for #1 because no one else in the world is looking out for them.

      Posted by Lynda on 4/13/2020 8:52 PM

    • This is regarding hazard pay for the therapy community at my local hospital. I work at a non for profit hospital that I am deemed an essential discipline. As of Sunday 4/12, the hospital decides that unless an employee works >50% of the time on the COVID 19 unit (positive or rule out) during their visit weekly pay period they are NOT eligible for hazard pay... Meaning, I work with theses patients during shifts that others cannot because...not fit tested, days off, Econn and whatnot. So, on and off during my 40 hour week I see about 10-20 ish hours of COVID 19 patients and WILL NOT receive any additional compensation This is not about myself or other disciplines being greedy but about being there and supportive regarding our profession and mobilizing patients as part of their recovery. The therapists that are there on the front line full time receive a bonus at the end of four weeks, which is substantial of course but the “other” therapists assisting them when they are off are not receiving any additional compensation. Please advise, I’ve looked under all labor laws and additional websites but have found nothing. I do love working and assisting these patients and am so grateful that I can be a part of this process. My employer has been wonderful to us all. My DOR has explained it to us after we received a piece is paper taped to the office door today...

      Posted by Christine on 4/15/2020 7:08 PM

    • My employer just cut wages 10%

      Posted by Lin on 4/19/2020 12:37 PM

    • I operate a small physical therapy practice in NYC which has been absolutely devastated by covid. I have transferred any willing and able patients to Telehealth (only 20% of my caseload unfortunately) and will not see patients in person until the infection rates are lower in Queens and Manhattan where I live and work due to risks outweighing the benefits to my patient's health at this time. If the numbers continue to trend down for the next month I will start to offer in person sessions again on a limited basis for my patients who need significant hands on care. I am starting to prepare for this but am falling short securing PPE. Does the APTA have any supply chain information that private practices can order from in bulk? I am sure that many local NYC practices would be ready and willing to purchase in large quantity. Please advise if possible.

      Posted by Karen Yanelli on 4/22/2020 1:59 AM

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