FPTA President Letter

Message from FPTA President, Jamie Dyson, regarding Operations & COVID-19

I want to take this opportunity to communicate to you FPTA’s response to the recent Coronavirus/COVID-19 crisis. First and foremost, our FPTA staff and its leaders are in constant communication with each other. To protect our staff from exposure, our executive staff has secured our headquarters office, organized our IT and communications systems so that our staff can work remotely from home. They began working remotely Tuesday, March 17th.

Secondly, our leadership and staff have formed a small internal task force that is reviewing all the COVID-19 information that is coming in at light-speed nearly every hour. As we filter APTA, CDC, and the Florida Department of Health advisories we are doing our best to spin the information back out to you as quickly as possible. We want to make sure we provide you with timely information that can assist you in practice and with your patients.

Our Goal: Continued Service Members & Safety for Our Staff

  • With APTA Components Brands across the United States, we're monitoring the Coronavirus/COVID-19 situation closely and are adhering to recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO).
  • Contingency plans are in place to help minimize any disruptions and to help keep our services operational, while also addressing the safety needs of the FPTA and its staff.
  • Our staff is already cross-functional and backup support plans are in place in the event an employee falls ill or needs to miss work.
  • Telecommuting is essential so that we can maintain open lines of communication with members, and collaborative health provider partners.

We understand that Coronavirus/COVID-19 is creating challenges for many of our office practices and may be impacting your ability to engage with your patients and maintain financial responsibilities.

Information is moving very quickly on the Federal, State, and Local levels in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic. FPTA is working hard to continue to provide timely information and resources that can help guide our decisions. Over the past week, and especially the last few days, you have received numerous directives from Federal, State, and Local officials regarding the closure of business, entertainment parks, restaurants, bars, and clubs. The guidance you receive from these sources remains crucial information on how to interact with your community on a personal level but continues to leave us with unanswered questions regarding professional interactions with our patients. These questions range from just making a decision on keeping a practice open to finding alternatives to in-person face-to-face patient interactions. This is especially true for those functioning independently outside of institutional, educational, or large company settings. 

APTA is a fantastic resource for regularly updated information, especially at the national level. Please bookmark and access regularly APTA’s  Coronavirus page.

Here is some general guidance from FPTA: 

  1. There is still no current directive that you should cease treating patients in your clinic. Exemptions are included for visits to healthcare providers, and physical therapy is an essential medical service. Physical therapists should determine, on a case-by-case basis, if the care being provided warrants an in-person encounter and if such an encounter can be done in an environment that minimizes the potential risk of exposure to the COVID-19 virus. Consideration should be given to delay in-person encounters when that delay won’t result in an adverse outcome. The underlying premise is to “do no harm.” You and the patient must determine if the risk of providing care outweighs the risks of not providing care at this time. 
  2. We are also learning about Shelter-In-Place orders from other Components. One example from a California County, which provides exemption for healthcare services: “For purposes of this Order, individuals may leave their residence to work for or obtain services at any “Healthcare Operations” including hospitals, clinics, dentists, pharmacies, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, other healthcare facilities, healthcare suppliers, home healthcare services providers, mental health providers, or any related and/or ancillary healthcare services. “Healthcare Operations” also includes veterinary care and all healthcare services provided to animals. This exemption shall be construed broadly to avoid any impacts to the delivery of healthcare, broadly defined. “Healthcare Operations” does not include fitness and exercise gyms and similar facilities.” While no Shelter-in-Place orders have been given in Florida, at this time, pay close attention to guidance issued by the Florida Department of Health your local county health departments. FPTA will publish information as well when we become aware of these types of directives. 
  3. Conduct proper screening procedures for your staff, patients and those individuals accompanying patients to their appointments. Those failing basic screening questions should be redirected back to their home. Identify high risk individuals and follow current guidelines using the information provided by  CDC  and FDOH-COVID19
  4. Maintain social distancing in your clinics. This would involve utilizing private treatment rooms and modifying schedules to reduce patient-to-patient interactions.
  5. Maintain the highest sanitary levels via frequent handwashing/sanitizer use and surface disinfection. Inform patients of your procedures via a posted notice at the time of check-in.
  6. Follow guidance from federal, local, and state agencies that may influence how you handle any of the above suggestions. The CDC has provided a resource for  getting your practice ready.
  7. SBA  is now accepting COVID-19 disaster applications from small businesses and nonprofits.

In light of the national emergency it is our duty as health professionals to provide the care that is required by our patients. The immediate future may be challenging with financial hardships on us as business owners, but that must remain as a secondary concern to the healthcare needs of our patients. Whenever possible, provide the care that is needed regardless of how you will be paid. Once this challenge passes we will be a stronger profession as a result of the caring we have shown to others.

Thank you for your membership and support. Our collective voice for our patients and profession is making a difference!

 

Sincerely,

Jamie Dyson, PT, DPT

FPTA President

 

800 N Calhoun St #1A
Tallahassee, FL 32303
PH: 850.222.1243
FAX: 850.224.5281
Email: info@fpta.org
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