Orthopedic Physical Therapy IS an Essential Business.

Bexar County issued a “stay at home” or “shelter in place” order on March 23, 2020, that will officially go into effect at 11:59 PM on March 24, 2020.

For most of us it’s the first time we’ve experienced something like this so what does this actually mean?

It means that all but essential services and businesses are being required to close. Gas stations, grocery stores, and critical industries will remain open. People were urged not to hoard items from grocery stores as there is no food shortage.

Takeout and delivery restaurant orders will still be permitted. Those businesses permitted to remain in operation must practice social distancing.

Residents will still be permitted to make trips in order to get groceries and other essential tasks, including those for work functions. People can still go outside in order to exercise and get fresh air so long as they maintain a safe distance from others.

Click to read full – City of San Antonio’s Order

Click to read full – Bexar County’s Order 

During this time Orthopedic Physical Therapy will remain open.

Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy are considered “Essential Businesses” and will continue to operate during a Shelter in Place Order. Please know that a memorandum was issued on March 19, 2020 by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security which 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 guidance goes on to further define the “essential infrastructure workers” to include “physical and occupational therapists and assistants”.  Their advice to our industry is to strive to stay open and treat the patient population during this pandemic.  Therefore, we believe that it is our duty to try to meet this guidance and continue to care for our patients’ physical and occupational therapy needs during this time of crisis.

Since our clinic and its staff are included in the specific definition of “essential” healthcare businesses that should strive to stay open and care for patients, we intend to do just that.  We are able to practice within the recommended CDC guidelines and we are following local government mandates.  We are here to assist in keeping people healthy; physical and occupational therapists are essential in flattening the curve of the COVID-19 pandemic.  We play a key role in keeping as many people as we can out of emergency rooms, physician offices, and hospitals.  This will not only free up the medical teams to treat those impacted by COVID-19, but also limit the exposure of those seeking care for treatment that a physical or occupational therapist can provide.  For those patients who do not need surgery at this time, or if surgery has been delayed, we are here and ready to help get you better.

Here are the steps we are taking to help to prevent infection and the spread of the virus.

  • All employees are screened daily for COVID-19.  Staff with respiratory symptoms are instructed to not report to work and only return to work when they are well.

  • After each patient encounter, we are washing our hands with soap and water, or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.

  • We are covering our coughs and sneezes and also washing our hands after every time we cough or sneeze.

  • We are routinely cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces such as; mats, treatment tables, exercise equipment, computer keyboard and mice, pens, phones, light switches, door handles, faucets, etc.

During this time we are asking for Patients to help us in maintaining a safe environment.

  • Please take a minute to wash your hands or use hand sanitizer when you first walk inside.

  • When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue – discard tissue immediately into a closed bin

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands

  • If you have symptoms of any respiratory infection (e.g., cough, runny nose) please call ahead to reschedule your appointment or a telehealth visit, if appropriate.

  • If you have a fever, please refrain from coming to the clinic until you have been fever-free for 3 days.