By Don McCann, MA, LMT, LMHC, CSETT
On Thursday, April 30, 2020, Florida Governor DeSantis issued Executive Order 20-112 that potentially reopens massage therapy in the state of Florida. This Executive Order was vague at best as massage therapy was never mentioned directly but does fall under the wording of “all other health care practitioners.” However, it is impossible to maintain the recommended social distancing while doing a massage treatment making it very hard to guarantee that you do no harm which is the basis for practicing ethical massage therapy.
These CDC Guidelines for opening businesses are the most definitive guidelines I have seen so far. As quoted from these guidelines:
Under Phase I in Florida
Reopen only if business can ensure strict social distancing, proper cleaning and disinfecting requirements, and protection of their workers and customers; vulnerable workers are recommended to shelter in place.
Under phase 2 in Florida
Reopen only if business can ensure moderate social distancing, proper cleaning and disinfecting requirements, and protection of their workers and customers; vulnerable workers are recommended to shelter in place.
Under Phase 3 in Florida
Reopen only if business can ensure limited social distancing, proper cleaning and disinfecting requirements, and protection of their workers and customers.
Under these guidelines it appears that either Phase 2 or Phase 3 would be more ethical and appropriate for opening Florida massage establishments, even though it is not prohibited under the Executive Order.
There are some counties in Florida that are still maintaining that massage establishments are to remain closed. I suggest that you check with your county before you consider opening. Another consideration is whether your liability insurance company will cover you if you open. There are clauses in insurance coverage that have to do with obeying state and local laws that could be argued by the insurance company to deny coverage during this COVID-19 pandemic. The medical PPE’s that are suggested for health care practitioners that would make it safer for massage therapists to practice are being reserved for the hospitals and doctors who need to work with COVID-19 patients. This may make massage therapists not using the full medical PPE’s practicing outside of what is legal and covered by insurance. Check with your insurance company to avoid a lapse of liability coverage during a time that our liability is risky.
Each of you will have to look at the ethics of reopening. Can you reopen and not do any harm to yourself, your family or your clients. If you feel you can, then ethically you could reopen. If you feel you cannot, then it would be unethical for you to reopen at this time. Open up only if it is ethical for you.
If you are financially stable enough, or were able to get a SBA loan, you could be financially secure enough not to have to open your practice even though the Executive Order 20-112 would allow you to. Hopefully, many of you are in this position so you don’t have to open, as this seems to be the most ethical and appropriate course of action to take in Phase I in Florida until circumstances with COVID-19 improve.
If financially you really need an income from massage therapy to survive now, and you feel it is ethical to open, you may have to open. This will be a personal choice and it’s important that you know the risks. It does not appear that enough testing to actually see the extent of the spread of COVID-19 will take place anytime soon. Stay at home restrictions are being eased which means people will be more socially active and have a higher risk of exposure. Many who contact the virus will be symptom free for at least the first 4-5 days but still contagious, while others will be symptom free the entire time of their infection. Given these conditions, if you open your office for massage therapy, there is a significant possibility that someone who is contagious with COVID-19 is likely to attempt to book treatments. To successfully work at this time there are a number of procedures and tools that could make all the difference.
The following two screening forms can be accessed from our website – www.StructuralEnergeticTherapy.com – by clicking on the two buttons at the top of the article on safely re-opening your office.
1. A screening form at the time of booking a session with your client over the phone can help identify clients who are a larger risk of having been exposed to, or having, COVID-19. If the client is identified as a high risk client, the client could be asked to wait 30 days before having a treatment. This would also give you a better picture of the client’s risk of exposure, and, if you decide to book the client, some peace of mind about your client’s health.
A fever is an indicator of COVID-19. Having a thermometer that can take a client’s temperature without touching them and possibly become contaminated is important. Taking clients’ temperatures before they come into your office can identify potential clients who may not know they have COVID-19. This is a good screening tool to protect you and your clients.
2. A screening form for clients when they arrive at your office is important. This can be very similar to the screening form for booking a session, but it will have a place for recording the temperature. The form will give you the up-to-the-minute state of the clients’ risk and possibility of having been exposed to, or having, COVID-19. The form has a place for clients to sign and date after they have finished filling it out. The clients’ signed form will be placed in their file folder as part of their record. At the beginning of every session the client will again complete this form so we are monitoring their health and risk factors before each treatment.
We are including with this email a link to the form for sanitizing yourself and your office between each client. This checklist that you initial will verify that you have sanitized the office and yourself. Using the checklist and sanitizing after every client protects everyone. For the client to see what you have done to protect them by sanitizing will also create a sense of security for the client. Putting this copy in their file will show measures you have taken before seeing the client if anything would ever be in question. It’s a win-win for everybody. Please CLICK HERE for a copy of this form, or click on the button provided with this article.
This is a lot to do between clients and will take around 40 minutes. However, since social distancing is not possible during our sessions, we have to be extra careful so that massage therapy produces wonderful results and does not have tragic consequences.
As far as work, err on the edge of caution. You are too valuable to be taken by COVID-19. Go cautiously in these uncertain times and take the precautions seriously.
Stay healthy, stay safe, and identify something you really like and do it often.