When the novel coronavirus pandemic hit Oregon and the U.S., life as we knew it shut down. While governors issued ‘stay at home’ orders and businesses and schools closed, Life’s Work Physical Therapy in Portland, OR, made the decision to stay open. Considered an essential business, Life’s Work wanted to continue to serve its clients and community, like it had for the past 20 years since it opened in 2001. They wanted to make sure people who need their help, like those suffering from chronic pain, recovering from an injury or recent surgery, had a place where they could safely access treatment. They also wanted to be a resource for other health care professionals, first responders and essential workers who need to stay healthy in order to be available to help others.
MAKE IT SAFE
The Life’s Work team reviewed CDC and Oregon Health Authority guidelines regarding how the coronavirus spreads and the best ways to control it. They enhanced their sanitation and infection control procedures in response. This included regular hand washing required of all staff and patients, hand sanitizer available throughout the clinic, the wearing of masks when working close to each other, keeping physical distance, frequent deep cleaning and disinfecting of the clinic, and quarantine guidelines for staff if they became sick. The team is continually reading the research related to virus transmission and updating procedures as needed.
Life’s Work also put in place screening protocols to identify patients who are sick, experiencing symptoms, possibly exposed to someone who was sick, or who had recently traveled outside of the country or been on a cruise.
THE RIGHT TEAM
It was important that Life’s Work team members were educated about the potential risk for exposure to the virus and felt comfortable treating patients and being around each other. The team also had to be willing to do whatever was asked. They needed to be nimble and able to make adjustments on a day-to-day or week-by-week basis as needed.
Staff also needed to remain calm and provide a calm and safe environment for patients. This helped patients feel more comfortable attending their appointments, and also helps promote healing and recovery, which is especially important for fearful or anxious patients.
NEW WAYS TO ENGAGE
The Life’s Work team utilized new ways for patients to access care or get help. They now offer telehealth “virtual visits” for those who are uncomfortable or unable to attend in person; virtual ergonomic assessments for people working at home; they post helpful tips and videos on a daily and weekly basis on their Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts; and launched KEET, a new online patient engagement platform, where clients can access exercise videos, articles and blogs, or chat with their PT. The Life’s Work team also conducts personalized outreach to patients to make sure they’re getting the help they need, how and when they need it. Many of these services are free of charge.
Above all, the Life’s Work team continually emphasizes to clients that they are here to help them with their recovery in a way that feels most comfortable to them. They observe how patients interact with them when in the office and make adjustments as needed to make patients feel more comfortable.
CELEBRATE THE WINS
The Life’s Work team continues to remain positive and celebrate wins, like when patients achieve milestones in their recovery, when they successfully launched KEET, or when they gain more followers on their social media accounts. Even when patients started cancelling appointments and business slowed, the team stayed positive. Most importantly, throughout this crisis Life’s Work Physical Therapy has responsibly responded to the pandemic while keeping their mission of service top-of-mind.
If you are in need of physical therapy and live in the Portland, OR area, contact us at 503-295-2585 or firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule an evaluation with one of our physical therapists. If you live outside the Portland metro area, please visit apta.org to find a good physical therapist in your area, and read our blog about “How to Find a Good PT.”