A Pediatric Hospital Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy Department’s Response to COVID-19: An Administrative Case Report

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Phys Ther. 2021 June 25:pzab164. doi: 10.1093/ptj/pzab164. Online for print.


PURPOSE: The purpose of this case report is to describe the challenges that COVID-19 presented to therapists in a children’s hospital and the response to these challenges.

METHODS (DESCRIPTION OF THE CASE): The case is a physiotherapy and occupational therapy department (department) of a teaching pediatric medical center that provides a range of health services for children and young people. Challenges that COVID-19 presented to the department included: (1) dealing with safety concerns for patients, their families and staff; (2) continue to provide quality therapy services within state-imposed restrictions; (3) triage patients; and (4) keeping clinicians employed and productive.

RESULTS: The ward therapists responded to these challenges by: (1) increasing communication huddles, (2) developing procedures for staffing and triaging patients, (3) developing procedures for telecare therapy services, and (4) designing a remote work program for all employees of the department. The number of patients and staff on site was reduced by launching telehealth services, triaging patients and developing a remote work plan. Communication calls, department meetings and supervision meetings were converted into virtual meetings. Staffing levels, patient care productivity and department project work were maintained.

CONCLUSION: In response to COVID-19, the department developed new protocols that provided information about the protocols, which may be helpful to other pediatric hospitals or outpatient facilities in planning for future pandemics or other issues that challenge the ability to provide usual care . It is recommended to increase the frequency of oral and written communication on operational topics. Primary sources of information from national organizations (eg, the American Physical Therapy Association and the American Occupational Therapy Association) can help determine the scope of practice and the code of conduct during a pandemic.

IMPACT: COVID-19 posed challenges for operations and the delivery of patient care. While this case report is specific to COVID-19, applied principles and lessons learned from this experience can be applied to other emergencies.

PMID:34174072 | DOI: 10.1093/ptj/pzab164

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