(March 20, 2020)
I appreciate that you might be as I am, a little overwhelmed with the many emails and messages flying around these past few days about our profession and COVID-19. So, I apologize for this additional message, but I need to address the topics of clinics staying open and telehealth in Indiana.
Some of you are aware that Governor Beshear from Kentucky made a public statement on 3/18/20 during a press release about Kentucky PT and OT clinics closing, but he did not issue an executive order to put into writing what he said. An emergency legislative bill was passed last night in Kentucky to give guidance on clinics remaining open. This bill is awaiting the KY Governor’s signature today.
In reviewing what the Indiana Governor said yesterday during his afternoon press release and his most recent Executive Order, there is no mention of PT clinics in Indiana needing to close. Here is a link to all of the IN Governor’s Executive Orders.
For this reason, The APTA Indiana Board of Directors is in support of the following statement from the APTA Board of Directors on March 17, 2020:
As actions are taken across the country to reduce the spread of COVID-19, a virus that spreads easily from close contact, APTA encourages physical therapists to use their professional judgment to determine when, where, and how to provide care, with the understanding this is not the optimal environment for care, for anyone involved.
APTA encourages PTs, PTAs, and students to flatten the curve of the COVID-19 outbreak by following CDC guidance to minimize exposure in the clinic and practice social distancing by avoiding large social gatherings. At the same time, we know that our profession plays a crucial role in the health of our society, and there are people in our communities whose health will be significantly impacted by disruptions to care.
Patient care has always been specific to the individual, with the physical therapist assessing a person’s needs relative to their goals. Thus, physical therapists have a responsibility to review CDC guidance, to understand who is at highest risk and how to best reduce exposure, and to use their professional judgment in the best interests of their patients and clients and their local communities — including rescheduling nonurgent care if that is the best approach, or making other adjustments when the risk of exposure to COVID-19 outweighs the benefits of immediate treatment.
APTA’s mission is to build a community that advances the profession of physical therapy to improve the health of society. In this challenging time, we are mindful of the effects of this outbreak on our own community as well as on the society our profession nobly serves. Striving for the optimal health of everyone must be our goal.
— APTA Board of Directors
Regarding telehealth, in a communication that I had yesterday with the Chair of the Indiana Physical Therapy Board, Megan Certo, PT, she supports the statement made earlier this week regarding telehealth:
“The Indiana Physical Therapy Practice Act is silent on the use of Telehealth; there is no prohibition in the practice Act to the use of Telehealth. It is advised at this time that anyone wishing to use Telehealth should consult individual legal counsel. Here is the latest information from APTA about the use of telehealth.”
I appreciate that there is a lot of discussion about CMS and the changes made in the last few days, but please keep in mind that CMS and other payer changes do not supersede State Practice law regarding telehealth.
Moving forward, we can focus on what we, as a profession, can do to help those who have tested positive for the virus and are in recovery. If you have clinical experience working with those post severe viral infection, please consider joining the Task Force I would like to create to develop resources for our members as they encounter those who are severely debilitated. Thanks to Rick Reuss for this focus. Please contact me at slavene@uindy with your interest.
A letter is being sent to the Indiana Governor today to share that our profession plays a crucial role in the health of our Hoosiers and there are people in our communities whose health will be significantly impacted by disruptions to care. We encourage our members prioritize their in-person visits with their patients while following the CDC guidance.
APTA updates their COVID-19 webpage, www.apta.org/coronavirus, as new information is available. This link is also available on the APTA Indiana website, www.inapta.org. We will update our website when new information specific to Indiana surfaces. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions and ideas.
Thank you for your membership and all you are doing in this time of uncharted waters.
Emily Slaven, PT, PhD
Emily Slaven, PT, PhD
President, APTA Indiana