I work in the intensive care unit of an acute care hospital. We’ve had our share of COVID-19- positive patients, and PTs are involved in pronation and other pulmonary interventions to care for them. Our hospital has experienced PPE shortages — requiring us not only to provide the best possible care to patients, but also to do so while trying as best we can to preserve the supply of PPE we have.
What this has meant is that when I enter the room of a patient who has COVID-19 I sometimes perform tasks that might be considered outside the physical therapist’s specific role, such as taking the patient’s temperature, adjusting the ventilator setting, and even occasionally taking a blood glucose reading. This, of course, is on top of my responsibilities as a PT related to positioning, mobility, pulmonary function, toileting, and exercise.
Sometimes I see a patient on whose care I haven’t been consulted. This often leads to opportunities to share my input. But my purpose in writing this piece is not to discuss the PT’s role in the ICU; that’s a different subject. Rather, it’s to share the ways in which the true magnitude of everyone working together hit me on one particular day this spring.