In WA State, massage therapists are on the list of essential workers who are allowed to work during the coronavirus outbreak.
March 23, 2020 Proclamation 20-25
•Workers providing COVID-19 testing and workers that perform critical clinical research and development needed for COVID-19 response.
•Health care providers and caregivers (e.g., physicians, dentists, psychologists, mid-level practitioners, nurses and assistants, infection control and quality assurance personnel, pharmacists, physical and occupational therapists and assistants, midwives and doulas attending facility-based or home-based births, alternative healthcare providers, social workers, speech pathologists and diagnostic and therapeutic technicians and technologists).
As most other states shut down massage businesses it is difficult to understand why massage therapists are on still on the list of essential workers. Many of us here have tried everything to get us off of the list and to ask why we are on the list – contacting our legislators and the Governor’s office with no results.
Why are we on the essential list of workers?
It is really complicated and we really don’t know for sure but from what I have been able to figure out is that it is because we are also Health Care Providers AND we are credentialed with health insurance companies under the Every Category Law that allows us to work with injuries and various health conditions and bill health insurance.
But no one will die without getting a massage.
No they won’t, but massage therapy can keep people out of the hospital and from taking doctors time in serious situations like people who get debilitating migraines, people who wake up and can’t turn their necks or people who just wrenched their back working in the garden or doing home projects. It can help keep people off Opioids which isn’t the main concern here in the time of coronavirus but it is a main concern overall.
Working in the time of Coronavirus
Little did we know that we could become part of the frontline of essential workers when we signed up for massage school and got our massage license here in WA State. Being a HCP and being able to bill health insurance meaning we are an integral part of healthcare means extra responsibilities.
Today WA State Department of Health finally issued more directions on this.
COVID-19 Health Alert for Massage Therapists
Massage therapists should be aware that there is:
Widespread person-to-person transmission of COVID-19 in Washington. People with COVID-19 can spread the illness even when they feel or lookwell.
High risk of severe COVID-19 illness in persons older than 60 years.
High risk of severe COVID-19 illness in persons with underlying health conditions.
No method to completely remove the risk of person-to-person spread of COVID-19in a massage setting. Governor Inslee’s proclamation 20-25allows health care providers to continue essential health services. Many services provided by massage therapists are considered non-essential. No in-person appointment is risk-free, even if the patient and massage therapist appear well. To help control the spread of COVID-19, treatment should be limited to patients with a clear and documented urgent medical need.While the proclamation allows massage therapists to continue providing services, they are not required to do so. Therapists should weigh their own health risk and comfort when deciding whether to continue in-person services.
Only provide massage to patients with urgent medical issues.Examples include, but are not limited to,lymphatic drainage issues, moderate to severe whiplash,and acute pain control.Simply having a prescription for massage is not sufficient to establish urgent care.
Cancel non-urgent massage appointments.
When treatment is medically necessary, screen the patient for symptoms of respiratory illness (e.g., fever, cough, difficulty breathing) before they enter your practice. If a patient has respiratory symptoms,do not provide treatment. Instead, refer the patient to their primary care provider.
When appropriate, consider instructing patients to implement self-care measures such as rest, hydration, light stretching, light or moderate activity,and self-massage to treat aches and pains until the restrictions on non-essential services are lifted.
Make sure patients practice social distancing of six feet in waiting rooms and other areas of the practice.
Closely follow CDC guidelines for hand hygiene and clean equipment and facilities between patients.
Remind sick employees to stay home. Do not require them to work.Allow all employees who are uncomfortable with continuing to work in the clinic to stay home.
Consider wearing a face mask or cloth face covering when providing massage and when within six feet of another person. Provide face covers and request use by clients when close proximity is necessary.
Updated April 6,2020 Background:The virus causing coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19), emerged in December 2019 and has since spread around the world causing a global pandemic. Eighty percent of cases are mild, but severe disease and deaths are more common in the elderly (older than 60 years) and in those with underlying health conditions. Health experts are concerned that increasing transmission in our state and an increase in severe disease will limit the ability of our healthcare system to provide urgent care to all who require it.
Additional resources for massage therapists:DOH Workplace RecommendationsDOH Coronavirus (COVID-19) Web PageCDC Coronavirus (COVID-19) Web PageCDC Practice Preparedness ResourcesTorequest this document in another format, call 1-800-525-0127. Deaf or hard of hearing customers, please call 711 (Washington Relay) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.