By guest blogger, traveling PT for Revolution – Homer Dr. Karen Durbin, DPT
WHAT JUST HAPPENED?
As a traveling Physical Therapist (PT) I have a lot of options for the direction of my life. Should I move to Texas or Alaska next? Do I want to work in a hospital or an outpatient clinic? Should I workout before or after work? What new restaurant do I want to try tonight? Then the coronavirus pandemic happened and like everyone else, my options were suddenly limited. Flights and trips cancelled; a cross-country road trip turned into a last minute flight instead, and my last day at one job was decided that morning. I had a mandatory 14-day quarantine as soon as I arrived in Alaska for my new assignment.
Healthcare workers faced similar dilemmas. Healthcare and all essential workers were given new updates daily, and sometimes even hourly. Social media and the news has provided stories of the new “lifestyle” essential workers are faced with: constant hand washing, wearing masks until they had marks or bruising on their faces, and being quarantined from loved ones as to not spread the virus. This virus has spread into our work and home lives, exposing us (and our families) to the illness. Although this is unlike any pandemic many of us faced before, we gladly get up each day to provide our skills to those that need us.
OUR PROFESSION RISES TO THE CHALLENGE:
As a traveling PT, I witnessed PTs across the country going above and beyond for patients offering new services, changing how therapy was performed, and even learning new skills! Some therapists were furloughed, some worked from home, and some were asked to do alternate jobs at facilities. Many clinics (Revolution included) offered tele-health almost immediately to allow for minimal interruption in the recovery of patients. Hospital based PTs suited up and went into ICUs to turn a patient in bed help to improve their lung function. School and outpatient therapists learned tele-health and started working from home. Others quickly learned the ins and outs of hospital-based therapy. Nursing home or rehab therapists adapted sessions to keep patients moving while staying in their room to minimize possible exposure. Acute care therapists worked to get patients out of the hospital and back home as quickly as possible, and home health therapists worked even harder to keep patients at home instead of the hospital or nursing homes.
Through all of this we were challenged, accepted it, and modified how treatments were provided without sacrificing the number one goal of keeping patients safe. This has included restoring their mobility, strength, and even lifestyles. I am amazed at how well our profession has stepped up where needed and implemented new strategies to continue providing the best possible care for our patients! We continue to feel the stress of this virus too, and hope that sooner than later we may be able to get back to our areas of expertise.
So, what are our options now? Bake cookies or banana bread? Yes! Walk the dog or take an extra nap? Maybe! Try a new online workout or do some gardening? Sure! Use hand sanitizer or wash your hands? Please do! Call a friend or a grandparent? Absolutely! But most important is to take care of yourself during this very stressful time. Mental and physical health may be more critical for many of us due to these major disruptions in life. As a PT, I am worried about my current and past patient’s safety and well-being. My advice is to make sure when you are able to go back to work that your body is strong enough, or that your sitting at a kitchen table instead of computer desk hasn’t ruined your posture. If you are at a risk for falling, please use equipment (i.e. walker, cane, etc.) to keep yourself safe. If you need us as healthcare workers know that we are still here for you. Revolution is open for all those that need us, and for high-risk patients we continue to offer tele-health.