The Dept of Homeland Security issued a memo regarding the importance of keeping the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce operating and identifying what industries and workers that includes. I encourage you to read it for yourself here, but in short, physical therapy is on that list. Scroll down for relevant highlights.
I know from my experience deploying with 7th SF Group to Honduras in the 1980s, and to the Saudi Arabia for the first Gulf War with the 50th General Hospital, that the points made in the memorandum are legitimate. It can seem that if you are not directly helping a sick COVID 19 patient, that your role in society is not important, and that it would be best to sit things out and let it run its course. In many cases this is true, but there is a tremendous amount of infrastructure and support that absolutely needs to be in place, otherwise our front-line warriors will inevitably be overwhelmed. In fact, the vast majority of US Military personnel are NOT direct combatants, but rather play a support role, directly or indirectly, that ensures that those on the front lines have the greatest opportunity to accomplish their mission. Wars are often lost on the “back end” when issues of supplies, communications, sickness, etc. prevent adequate execution of strategy, and that is where we are now.
I harbor no illusion of heroism, or that Prevail PT will win the fight with COVID-19. But I do know that we can help keep critical people where they need to be. For example, currently we have PT patients that include an MD, a respiratory therapist and a fire fighter. These are our new battlefield soldiers, and I’ll work to keep every one of them on the front lines right now. If you look at the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce list, you’ll be surprised by the variety of jobs that are considered critical. I’m sure by now you’ve also realized how important grocery store clerks, delivery drivers, and food handlers have become much more socially valuable than they were a month ago, and we’ll help them to keep doing their vital work as well.
We are changing how we practice, and we are continually assessing the priorities of the day.
The guidance from the memorandum states that:
“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.”
If your clinic is able to practice within the recommended CDC guidelines and follow your local government mandates, consider that community-based physical therapists assist in keeping people healthy. According to Dr. Matos, an expert in biologic surety and the management of select agent programs at federal facilities:
“Physical therapists are essential in flattening the curve of the COVID-19 pandemic. They play a key role in keeping people they can help out of the doctor offices and ER’s. This will not only free up the medical teams to treat those impacted by COVID-19, but also limit the exposure of those seeking the care of the physical therapist”.