(203) 458-1645
705 Boston Post Road
Guilford, CT 06437
» COVID-19 Updates
COVID-19 Updates

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June 9th, 2020

Once again we reach out to you with wishes for health and safety as we experience a phased reopening of our community.  While there are many questions that remain as to when and how "normal" activities will resume, at Physical Therapy Specialists we are excited to share with you our plans to further increase our capacity and gradually return to full operation.

ALL PATIENTS NOW WELCOME TO RETURN...

We are pleased to announce that all patients, regardless of the severity of the condition, are now welcome to return to our office!  After many weeks of reserving care for only the most acute cases, followed by several more weeks of only subacute and acute cases, we are now staffed and equipped to accept all patients back to PT.  Operational changes and updates to safely accommodate this change are as follows...

Expanded Hours for All Therapists

Beginning June 8th, all of our therapists will increase from 3-day work weeks to 5-day work weeks with morning appointments and evening appointments available Monday through Saturday.  The increased availability of your therapist will allow for greater ease in scheduling your visits and for more time between each patient.   

Staggered Team Scheduling

We will continue to arrange our schedules around treatment "teams" that minimize overlap of therapists and patients.  Staggering the shifts of these "teams" will continue to provide for reduced overall population in the clinic at any one time.  See the revised treatment team schedules below:

Paul Bauer, James Heeren, Jon Goldfarb

Monday, Wednesday, Friday (Mornings) ; Tuesday, Thursday, Friday (Evenings)

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Mike Oriente, Eric Meoli

Monday, Wednesday (Evenings) ; Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday (Mornings)

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Staggered Appointment Times

Also beginning June 8th will be staggered appointment times for patients.  Previously, all appointments were scheduled at the top and bottom of the hour.  This meant busy arrival and departure times as patients often crossed paths when checking in or checking out.  While some therapists will continue to see patients on the :00 and :30 of each hour, other therapists will see patients on the :15 and :45 of each hour.  This should allow for fewer patients arriving and departing at the same time and should make social distancing easier to accommodate.  Be sure to check your appointment time carefully before arriving...you may be scheduled on the :15 or :45 of the hour. 

Continued Screening, Sanitization, and Face Covering Practices

Upon arrival for your appointment, temperature check, COVID-19 screening questionnaire, and hand washing protocols will remain in place.  We also remind you to please wear a face covering when entering and exiting the office.  Therapists will continue to wear a mask throughout your visit and all equipment will be cleaned and sanitized after each use.

NEW PROGRAM...

Return to Sport Screening and Conditioning

The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) recently released guidelines regarding resocialization of athletics.  In their report, they note the following:

"Deconditioning/Regression": The sudden closure of school and recreational activities has left student/youth-athletes without structured physical activity since mid-March. A safe return to interscholastic/youth athletic experiences must account for the deconditioning which may have occurred during this prolonged departure from normal physical conditioning and skill development. Prolonged inactivity can result in decreased cardiovascular function, decreased pulmonary function, muscle atrophy, and skill regression. ...Returning to game play scenarios in late June or early July without a structured re-conditioning program could be dangerous for our young athletes. Now, perhaps more than ever, the likelihood for overuse injuries due to significant de-conditioning is high.

In light of this report, and with the understanding that local gyms remain closed, our staff can provide return to sport testing and training for young athletes.  We can identify biomechanical deficits and localized areas of dysfunction that, for each sport, may pose greater risk of injury.  Based on the results of these tests, we can then create a home-based or clinic-based training program to correct the identified areas of concern. 

TELEHEALTH UPDATE...

Most insurance companies have extended their telehealth policies to cover telehealth services throughout the summer.  If you would like a visit with your PT but remain concerned about coming to the office, schedule a telehealth visit to explore the possibility of this method of treatment for your condition.

As always we thank you for your support and understanding during these unique and challenging times.  It has been our pleasure to serve you, even in limited capacity, during these last three months.  We look forward to our return to full service throughout the next several weeks and, like you, we look forward to enjoying summer here on the shoreline!

~ The Team at Physical Therapy Specialists of Guilford 

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previous update...April 26, 2020

In the weeks since our last update, many of our patients have called our office to inquire about when it will be safe to return to Physical Therapy.  With data about projected COVID-19 infection rates somewhat variable, it is important to recognize both a need to remain vigilant in reducing exposure to viral spread while also beginning to serve a greater portion of our patients.  To meet these goals, we have made several changes to our typical workflow that will allow us to open our doors wider while also keeping our staff and our patients as safe as possible. 

Here are just a few of the changes we are making for the remainder of April and for the month of May:

Team Scheduling

To reduce overall volume each day, to reduce cross exposure among staff, and to reduce cross exposure among patients, our staff has been reorganized into two teams.  These fixed teams will see patients on different days of the week so they will not be in the office simultaneaously.  This will greatly reduce cross exposure between clinical staff and it will keep the potential exposure from patient to patient limited to a much smaller population.  Here is when you will be able to see your therapist:

Monday, Wednesday, Friday:  Paul Bauer and Jon Goldfarb

Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday:  Mike Oriente, James Heeren, Eric Meoli (returning May 18th)

Expanded Check-In Safety and Screening

In addition to hand washing immediately upon entering the office, patients will also fill out a COVID-19 exposure questionnaire, receive a temperature check, and be escorted to a clean and sanitized treatment room with minimal to no waiting room time.  These procedures will be followed at each and every visit. 

Expanded PPE Usage

On April 17, 2020, Governor Ned Lamont entered Executive Order No. 7BB requiring cloth face coverings or masks to be worn in public wherever close contact is unavoidable.  As a result, we now must require all visitors to wear cloth face coverings while on premises, except those who cannot due to a medical condition, anyone under the age of two years, or an older child if the parent, guardian or person responsible for the child is unable to place the mask safely on the child's face.

Our therapists will continue to wear face masks throughout the entirety of your visit and we kindly ask our patients and visitors to do the same. 

In-Clinic and Telehealth Hybrid Care Plans

Telehealth coverage has continued to expand these past few weeks and nearly all private health plans are now covering telehealth visits, including: Anthem BC/BS, Connecticare, United Healthcare, Oxford, Cigna, Harvard Pilgrim, Aetna, and others.

Medicare continues to cover E-Visits which, although less robust than Telehealth visits, are still a valuable service for "checking-in" on established patients.

Additionally, In-Clinic visits and Telehealth visits are not mutually exclusive.  Therefore, patients can now opt to receive a few visits in the office and supplement their care with telehealth visits, especially once the need for hands-on treatment is reduced.

Please see previous communications (below) for additional Telehealth/E-Visit information.

 

The decision to return to Physical Therapy is an individual choice and you should discuss your plans with your family before deciding to initiate or resume your PT plan of care.  We hope that the initiatives we are taking will make your decision easier and that you will feel comfortable in our clinic once you decide the time is right. 

If you plan to return to our care within the next few weeks, we ask that you call to schedule those appointments 1-2 weeks prior to your anticipated return.  We are now scheduling for May and June and, with the reduced availability outlined above, we want to ensure scheduling availablity for our patients. 

Please continue to follow the exclusion criteria below when deciding if in-clinic visits are right for you:

  • If you are sick, please do not come to the office
  • If you are caring for someone who is sick, please do not come to the office
  • If you have had an exposure to someone diagnosed with COVID-19, or suspected to have COVID-19, please do not come to the office
  • If you are immune compromised, currently undergoing chemotherapy or have recently completed chemotherapy, are over the age of 70, or have cardiac or pulmonary conditions, please strongly consider delaying your therapy for a few more weeks. 

All of us here at Physical Therapy Specialists are grateful for the opportunity to serve you and your family.  We thank you for your support and we appreciate your patience as we begin our measured return to normal capacity.  Stay healthy and try to make the most of these days!

The team @ Physical Therapy Specialists

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paul@physicaltherapyspecialists.org eric@physicaltherapyspecialists.org james@physicaltherapyspecialists.org mike@physicaltherapyspecialists.org jon@physicaltherapyspecialists.org tracey@physicaltherapyspecialists.org

 

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previous update ... March 30, 2020

All of us here at Physical Therapy Specialists hope this update finds you and your family well.  As COVID-19 cases in our region increase, please know our thoughts are with all of you as we work together to flatten the curve and move forward to safer days.

We would also like to thank you for your part in reducing the overall exposure in our clinic.  Our patient volume was reduced by almost 80% last week thanks to your efforts to reduce or delay your treatments.  Your sacrifice allowed us to remain open for those who need our services most while also providing the safest environment possible.  Thank You!

Telehealth Is Now Available at Physical Therapy Specialists

Last week, our therapists began piloting a HIPAA compliant telehealth platform that will allow us to remain engaged in your care during this era of social distancing.  Telehealth has been an emerging model of healthcare for several years and the COVID-19 crisis has pushed rapid reform in the clinical delivery and insurance coverage of telehealth services.  

There have been ongoing updates to federal, state, and payer policies over the past 2 weeks and, while coverage and regulations continue to evolve almost daily, here is what we know so far...

Telehealth Services Available:

  • Telehealth:
    • A standard PT visit provided online with live audio and video interaction
    • Can be used for an evaluation or for follow up visits at any frequency deemed approriate by you and your PT
    • Currently covered by only a few insurances but coverage is expanding weekly in response to COVID-19 and "Stay-at-Home" orders
    • Patients can opt to pay for these visits out-of-pocket if insurance coverage is not available or if out-of-pocket payment is preferred. 
      • Reduced rates of $25 for the first 15 minutes and for each additional 15 minute interval will be in effect until June 1st for those choosing to pay out-of-pocket.
  • E-Visit:
    • A brief PT "check-in" provided online with live audio and video interaction
    • Can be used only for follow up visits (no initial evaluations)
    • Provided once per 7 day interval and billed in 10 minute increments to your insurance (if covered)
    • Currently covered by several insurances including Medicare

Scheduling Your Telehealth Visit:

You can email your Physical Therapist anytime to request a telehealth visit or an e-visit.  While it is always your responsibility to understand your health plan coverage, we will do our best to provide you with expected coverage information provided to us by the American Physical Therapy Association and other industry resources.

Email your PT with any questions or to discuss the benefits of a telehealth visit / e-visit:

paul@physicaltherapyspecialists.org eric@physicaltherapyspecialists.org james@physicaltherapyspecialists.org mike@physicaltherapyspecialists.org jon@physicaltherapyspecialists.org tracey@physicaltherapyspecialists.org

Operational Updates - March 30, 2020

We remain open this week with reduced hours for all of our therapists and with special focus on providing care for our Level 3 cases (see last weeks update below).

In the weeks to come, we will be expanding operations to include Level 2 cases and we will manage overall exposure by spacing out our appointment times and reducing the number of therapists treating patients at any given time.  This will help to limit the exposure of patients and staff to other individuals in our office.

The CDC has provided new screening guidelines for patients who wish to be seen in the office.  At each visit, you will be asked to fill out a COVID-19 screening questionnaire that now includes the following updates:

  • Travel Advisory Expansion: New guidelines ask us to screen for any travel outside of our local area in the last 30 days.
  • New Symptom Identified: In addition to screening for fever, cough, and shortness of breath, new symptoms of decreased sense of taste or smell have been identified as part of COVID-19 and will be included in our screening. 

Coming Next...

Our April Newsletter will be released soon and it will include tips on healthy social distancing, walking for physical and mental health, and links to computer posture and stretching advice. 

Once again let us take this opportunity to thank you for supporting our practice in our public health efforts.  We appreciate your understanding and the sacrifice you are making.  Please feel free to reach out to your therapist at the emails listed above.  Be well!

The team @ Physical Therapy Specialists

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previous update ... March 22, 2020

Many of our patients have reached out to us here at Physical Therapy Specialists to thank us for these emails and to wish us good health in our efforts to continue caring for our patients.  In light of that response, we will continue to provide regular updates regarding operational changes here at our clinic.

New This Week

Effective March 23, at 8pm, Governor Ned Lamont is ordering all non-essential businesses to suspend in-person operations.  Healthcare facilities, and therefore our practice, are exempt from this order.

The American Physical Therapy Association has recently received clarification from the Department of Homeland Security regarding the role of Outpatient Physical Therapy in flattening the curve of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The guidance from the memorandum states that:

"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."

According to Dr. Matos, an expert in biologic surety and the management of select agent programs at federal facilities:

"Physical therapists are essential in flattening the curve of the COVID-19 pandemic. They play a key role in keeping people they can help out of the doctor offices and ER’s. This will not only free up the medical teams to treat those impacted by COVID-19, but also limit the exposure of those seeking the care of the physical therapist."

Dr. Matos is an advisor in Chemical, Biological, Radiological, And Nuclear Defense. Dr. Matos has experience working with the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center, Department of Defense Global Emerging Infections Surveillance and Response System, and the CDC. He has served as a public health emergency officer for 14 Department of Defense installations and has participated in multiple disease and epidemiologic investigations. Dr. Matos has received extensive training in risk communication in a public health emergency and in exposure investigations.

Since opening our doors 9 years ago, our clinic has taken great pride in being the provider of choice for you and your family when it comes to your musculoskeletal health.  We have been honored to serve as your "point-of-entry" to the health care system when pain, injury, or dysfunction should arise. The role of PT described above has been a hallmark of Physical Therapy Specialists since our founding and we will do our best to continue in that role through this pandemic.

Operational Updates

To support us in or efforts to remain open and safe for our patients and families, we ask you to please consider the following:

  • If you are sick, please do not come to the office
  • If you are caring for someone who is sick, please do not come to the office
  • If you have had an exposure to someone diagnosed with COVID-19, or suspected to have COVID-19, please do not come to the office
  • If you are immune compromised, currently undergoing chemotherapy or have recently completed chemotherapy, are over the age of 70, or have cardiac or pulmonary conditions, please strongly consider delaying your therapy for a few weeks. 

Additionally, when trying to decide if PT is appropriate at the current time, please consider your current condition and goals for PT in the following framework:

  • Level 1 cases ... Prevention, Wellness, and Maintenance
    • Please postpone your visits until mid April
  • Level 2 cases ... Pain and Dysfunction are Resolving
    • Please reduce your visit frequency or postpone until the week of April 6th
  • Level 3 cases ... Acute Pain/Injury, Acute Functional Loss, Post-Op, Decline in Status
    • Continue with treatment as directed by your therapist

By following the guidelines above we will be able to safely provide care for those who need it most while also reducing overall exposure, reducing burden on the healthcare system, and keeping our staff and our families safe. 

Coming Soon ...

We are currently working on establishing procedures to provide E-Visits through a HIPAA compliant online audio/video platform.

These visits can be billed to your insurance, can be scheduled at a time convenient for you and your therapist, and can provide a safe means to continue care while reducing in-office visits.  We are awaiting clarification on whether or not co-pays/deductibles need to be collected on these visits.

E-visits can be used for follow-up appointments only and can not currently be used for initial evaluations. 

Our next update will include procedures on how to schedule an E-Visit with your therapist. 

Once again we thank you for your continued support in these difficult times.  We are honored to be a part of your healthcare team and we will continue to be here for you and your family, both during the epidemic and after it has passed.  Stay safe.

The team @ Physical Therapy Specialists

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previous update ...

March 18, 2020

We hope that you and your family are well. In recent days we have all seen a new reality regarding the concerns about the COVID-19 virus.

At Physical Therapy Specialists, your health and well-being is our top priority.

We are monitoring recommendations from the health authorities and we are open to provide the personal care needed for our patients treatment and journey to recovery.

We would like to share some details on the standard daily practices which we have always had at our clinics in addition to extra steps we are taking in light of the virus.

Standard practices that our patients have always experienced at Physical Therapy Specialists include:

  • All of our linens are single use and are cleaned using detergent on high heat
    Wiping down of all treatment beds and equipment after each use with hospital grade disinfectant
  • Our clinics are fully equipped with hand washing stations as well as hand sanitizer
    Cleaning high-touch areas with medical grade disinfectant (e.g., door handles, common area surfaces, railings, chairs, light switches, payment machines, exercise equipment and treatment tools)
  • Our staff wash their hands thoroughly between treating each patient

Additional steps we are taking now include:

  • Additional training to our staff on increased sanitization/hand hygiene recommendations
  • Advising our staff to stay home if they are feeling unwell or have travelled by air in the last 14 days or have had close contact with someone who has travelled by air in the previous 14 days
  • Increasing the frequency of cleaning all items listed above
  • Reduced schedule density to allow more time between patients and fewer people in the clinic at one time
  • Minimal to no waiting room time
  • Monitoring information from our health authorities to adjust our plan based on recommendations

We know that the COVID-19 virus can be alarming and a bit scary. At Physical Therapy Specialists, we see this as a partnership journey with you as we make it a priority to take care of each other.

The steps that we have put in place are due both to our love for our patients but also for our great staff who are here for our patients.

We can all play a role in this joint battle with the virus.

We respectfully request that our patients:

  • Wash their hands immediately upon entering our facility
  • Complete our Covid-19 questionnaire
  • Minimize or avoid additional guests in the office
  • Reschedule appointments for a future date if you are feeling unwell, have travelled by air in the previous 14 days or have had close contact with someone who has travelled by air in the previous 14 days

Here are some tips that we can all follow in our daily lives:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water (for at least 20 seconds). Alcohol based hand sanitizer is a good option if soap and warm water is not available
  • Cover your mouth and nose with the inside of your elbow when coughing or sneezing
  • Regularly clean high touch objects and surfaces
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
  • If you feel sick, stay home and avoid public spaces

Upcoming information...

  • Look for future updates as recommendations from health authorities and governing bodies change
  • Expect new information regarding the possibility of telehealth visits, especially for our patients 65 and older
  • Check the COVID-19 alert button on our website

At Physical Therapy Specialists, the health of our patients is the cornerstone of why we exist. We look forward to continuing to be a partner in your health and wellness journey and taking steps with our patients to create a healthy and sanitary environment.

The team @ Physical Therapy Specialists

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