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  • Writer's pictureHeather Horst

Standard Precautions

Since the news of COVID-19, I’ve seen fear levels rise. You may be wondering whether it’s safe to keep your appointment for bodywork. After all, social distancing of 6 feet is not compatible with the idea of being touched.

I’d like you to know about the Standard Precautions that I’ve put in place. This isn’t only since COVID-19! Standard Precautions mean that we practice hygiene ALWAYS, regardless of whether we know anyone is sick.

Handwashing has always been a part of my practice. I wash my hands before and after every session, because my patients deserve clean hands! Massage Therapists usually wear short sleeves to work, so that we can wash our hands and forearms. Handwashing and Hygiene are central to nursing practice as well, from the time of Florence Nightingale.

Cleaning – Fresh linens and clean surfaces are part of my Standard Precautions. Because Chemical Hygiene is as important to me as Biological Hygiene, I use disinfectants that are also chemically safe: Seventh Generation products, 3% peroxide, and 70% alcohol.

Social Distancing and Self-Monitoring aren’t new ideas, just new vocabulary. If I’m sick, I cancel appointments. Once I’m well and fever-free for 24 hours, I invite patients to reschedule. If patients are sick – coughing, sneezing, stuffy headed, etc. – I ask them to take their temperature. Anyone with a fever is asked to stay home until their temperature has been normal for 24 hours. Besides not wanting to share your cold or flu, I also don’t want my other patients to be exposed. We used to call this “Staying Home When You’re Sick.” “Isolation” and “Social Distancing” have a scarier connotation, but staying home is a way of isolating yourself. This prevents you from sharing the creeping crud. It’s simple courtesy. Thank you for being courteous!

Transparency – I work for my patients, and I think you have a right to know: I have not traveled to any areas believed to be high risk for COVID-19. I have not had any contact with anyone believed to have COVID-19. (Obviously our nation is a bit behind with testing, but it seems that Elkhart County is still free of this infection.) If that changes, we may see temporary quarantines from our public health officials, especially regarding larger groups. Currently we are free to make these decisions for ourselves, and I hope we will make considered decisions about protecting each other.

Massage therapy is health care. Most health care requires proximity between patient and caregiver. Fortunately, our Standard Precautions provide a reasonably safe way for practitioners and patients to meet together. I am confident that these measures are within the CDC’s recommendations for slowing the spread of COVID-19, and I look forward to seeing you. If you’re feeling more cautious, perhaps because you are a member of a more vulnerable population, you are of course welcome to postpone your appointments. I respect your autonomy to make considered decisions about your own health.

Be well, everyone!

For the current CDC recommendations, you can visit their website.

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