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Physiotherapists back in the office, but not ending tele-health

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June 5 was the day that many sectors, including physiotherapists, were permitted to re-open to in-person clients.

“We did open for our first day yesterday. It went pretty well,” says Alison Beaton, owner of Scotia Physiotherapy on Quinpool Road in Halifax.

Beaton tells NEWS 95.7’s The Todd Veinotte Show that she was apprehensive about some of the changes.

“There are a lot of new policies and procedures in place, and just to be sure that all of our staff are following them correctly, that patients have received them and that they’re able to follow them correctly,” she says.

But for the most part, Beaton says day one went off without a hitch and patients were glad to be able to return to in-person care. In the treatment room, things don’t look a whole look different.

“I don’t think that experience has changed too much other than the fact that both myself, the physiotherapist, and the patient are wearing masks,” she says.

In the waiting room, chairs are spaced further apart and there’s a blue piece of tape marking off two meters from the receptionist's desk. But the physiotherapist’s office is trying to keep things as normal as possible.

“Think that experience feels different but it’s still quite friendly, people are still having conversations,” says Beaton.

In the beginning, Beaton says her clinic closed before the official State of Emergency was declared in the province. “To be ahead of it and for the best interest of our staff and patients,” she says.

After getting a federal wage subsidy to be able to hire back some of her staff, Scotia Physiotherapy began doing tele-health appointments.

“The only thing we can’t do is hands-on. But we can ask the appropriate questions, we can get their stories, we can watch them move,” she explains. “And with most people, we can teach them how to do specific little tests that give us information about their diagnoses.”

And while necessary appointments are returning to IRL visits, Beaton says some patients will stay on tele-health for months to come.

“Part of our screening process is considering which patients should be maintaining virtual care and staying in tele-health. So not everybody is coming to in-person,” she says.

And the clinic has had no shortage of patients calling to see if they can schedule an appointment.

“We do have a little bit of a backlog and we’re getting people booked in but probably now we’re booked into the next three weeks or so,” Beaton says.

For a full list of requirements for both patients and clinics from the Nova Scotia College of Physiotherapists, click here.

Victoria  Walton

About the Author: Victoria Walton

Victoria is's weekend editor and a Halifax-based freelancer. She is originally from Nova Scotia's Annapolis Valley.
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