Many physical therapists in private practice are struggling with the question of whether or not to stay open from an ethical perspective. The question pertains to whether or not we are contributing to the rise of the infection curve or supporting the flattening of the infection curve by remaining open to see our patients.
According to Dr. Matos1, 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 ERs. 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.”
As guided by a chapter of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) and the US Department of Homeland Security, physical therapists are considered on the list essential infrastructure workers. On the memorandum that was sent out by Homeland Security (page 5), it 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 APTA has recommended that if our clinic is able to practice within the recommended CDC guidelines and follow our local government mandates, we should keep our clinic open in order for our physical therapists to continue assisting in patient recovery.
Therefore, for the foreseeable future, we will remain open for patient care.
1Dr. Matos is a member of an advisory group in Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Defense. Dr. Matos has experience working with the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center, Department of Defense Global Emerging Infections Surveillance and Response System, and the CDC. He has served as a public health emergency officer for 14 Department of Defense installations and has participated in multiple disease and epidemiologic investigations. Dr. Matos has received extensive training in risk communication in a public health emergency and in exposure investigations.