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Reopening Your Physical Therapy Practice or Gym After COVID-19

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On this episode of the Ask Mike Reinold show, we talk about the 5-step system that we are following at Champion to prepare to safely re-open our physical therapy clinic and gym during the COVID-19 pandemic. To view more episodes, subscribe, and ask your questions, go to

#AskMikeReinold Episode 205: Reopening Your Physical Therapy Practice or Gym After COVID-19

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Mike Reinold: On this episode of the Ask Mike Reinold show, we talk about our systemized approach to how we are going to handle the re-opening of our physical therapy clinic and gym from the COVID pandemic, and a bunch of tips on what you can do as well.

Mike Reinold: We have a nice question today that’s probably going to be timely for a lot of people. I know it’s certainly going to be timely for us in Massachusetts at Champion, but our question today comes from Lisa, from Indianapolis.

Mike Reinold: And I wonder what her situation is, but she asked, what should practices be doing now to prepare to re-open after the COVID shutdown? And it’s a great question. I love to answer to this from the physical therapy perspective, maybe we’ll throw in some pearls from fitness here and there, but yeah, what can people be doing now? We’re shut down. That’s the scenario. And we’re going to get ready. Hopefully our government, I know in the state of Massachusetts, we’re talking about some guidelines. Hopefully we’re going to get plenty of heads up on some of the restrictions that we’re going to have to follow. But that’s what you have to follow. I think there’s a bunch of other things we can do to best prepare as well. So who wants to start this one?

Lenny Macrina: I guess I will. Because you and I have been talking multiple times a day, trying to figure this out. We are scouring the web. We are trying to read what states around us are implementing. We are way behind on this stage because our situation in Massachusetts has been so bad. So we kind of follow New York, New Jersey, but New Hampshire and Rhode Island and Connecticut are opening. And so we’re trying to see what their government is doing and then seeing how it can affect us. So with that, I would say, look around at states in your area, states that have similar caseloads of viruses and try to figure out how it can apply to you. With that, it looks like masks, some kind of face covering is going to be critical. So your staff is going to have to wear them.

Lenny Macrina: You’re going to have to have new practices in place in your facility where people coming in are going to have to wear something. You’re going to have to have hand sanitizer, clean hands all the time, a ton of soap. You’re going to have to maybe consider taking temperatures. I think airlines are doing that right now. So we have purchased some infrared thermometers that are arriving soon. So we’re going to try to monitor people, try to monitor their symptoms. You may have to update your paperwork. So now people may become…

Lenny Macrina: Yeah, there you go. Perfect. You are a human, you are the average human temperature. Although I thought they increased the temperature of the human, is now a little higher now, but I don’t know. So we’re using CDC guidelines and what airlines are using too. I think it’s 100.4 is considered a critical number, but you do your own research.

Lenny Macrina: What was I talking about? Oh, we’re talking infrared thermometers. So you’ve got to monitor that, monitor their symptoms, you’re going to have to monitor your staff and how they feel and you have enough supplies for them. What happens if somebody gets sick? What are the implications if a client gets sick, if a staff member gets sick? You’re going to have to be cleaning. Do you shut down? You’re going to be planning for that. So there’s so many different things that you’re going to have to really consider. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. I got off my train of thought.

Mike Reinold: I hope you’re taking notes Len, because we’re going to have to do all those things ourselves. So I know that was a big brainstorm session, which was probably pretty helpful. But, yeah, Lenny brought up a lot of points. I think a lot of them are going to be regulation based. So I think one of the first things you need to decide right now if you’re trying to open up a place, is your level of comfort with the minimum regulations. So say for example, you’re in a state that says masks are optional. I think you need to then consider yourself, that what do you think is comfortable? I think it’s completely okay for you to require a mask if you want to. So at Champion, where our physical therapy is open pretty restricted now, but we’re open a little bit.

Mike Reinold: And in the state of Massachusetts it’s recommended, or it was at the time a little bit, I think it’s not now, but it was recommended you wear a mask, but you didn’t have to, which it super vague. So we just required it because we thought it was the right thing to do. So be prepared to be looking up your state regulations, and Lenny kind of said this right here, is look at your surrounding states, because I know in New England, they formed a pact because if you’re Mass and Rhode Island and New Hampshire, and you’re those states, you’re all different recommendations, we all live within a half hour of all those states. So people are going to be bouncing around and it’s going to be super confusing.

Mike Reinold: So look at your surrounding states to start getting some heads up on the regulations and then decide if you’re comfortable with that, or if you want to make your regular regulations even tighter. So I like that. What else, anybody else have anything for this? I know this is kind of a business question and Lenny and I have been doing it. And heck if you guys have comments as employees, like what you want to see employers and stuff doing and stuff, let us know too. But Dan, what do you got?

Dan Pope: I know we’re maybe a little bit different situation because we’re out of network providers, but I think it would also be important for in network as well, is that you probably want to make sure, if you haven’t been doing this already, checking in with your patients, checking in with maybe some of your referral sources, how the surgeon’s doing, what’s going on in terms of you guys seeing more patients eventually just to make sure that when you open the doors, you actually have hopefully some business. You’re not just prepared against COVID, you’re also able to make some income, I guess is the ultimate goal. Yeah.

Mike Reinold: That’s great, Dan. And you should be using this opportunity to stay in touch with people, to see how you can help. We’re a service based industry. You got to kind of keep that in mind here. And remember this, there’s going to be two things that your referral sources and your patients are going to want to see. One is, are you open or not? That’s it. That one’s pretty easy, but this is healthcare. They have issues, they need to come in. Are you open or not? That’s easy. But what they really want, they want to see that you have a plan in place that they are going to be safe in your facility. And that you’re going to have to figure out a way to articulate that to both your referral sources and your potential patients, both new and returning. So that’s one of the big things you should be preparing for now is how can I get this message across that you can be comfortable at our facility when we’re allowed to open again? I think that’s huge. So Mike, did you have some tips?

Mike Scaduto: Yeah, I was just going to go along those same lines. I think there is going to be some level of anxiety from the patient’s perspective, going back into a healthcare setting, whether it’s an outpatient physical therapy clinic or just a regular doctor’s office. So I think you have to have policies in place that are clear and be able to articulate that to the patient, to put them at ease and then follow through with those policies when you’re there. And sometimes it can be a little bit difficult and you have to be strict with the policies. And I think that’s in everyone’s best interest and it’s in the company’s best interest in the long run. So, having policies, communicating them to the patient effectively, communicating them to the other employees effectively. And I think that’s something that Champion did a really good job throughout, was the communication aspect of what’s changing and what’s still unknown, I guess. So you can still have some questions, but you’re working to address those.

Mike Reinold: Yeah. And remember we’re a service based industry. You got to have a little empathy here with these people here. And everybody’s in a different situation. If you’re one of those people that think this is all fake and nobody’s going to really get sick and stuff like that, you better not be articulating that to anybody because your clients probably think the opposite. So you got to be really careful. And like Mike said, this is the time to be harsh.

Mike Reinold: Two scenarios again, we haven’t talked about this yet. We’ll assume this is us talking about it right now Mike. So we have one scenario, one of my patients, we got the mask situation, and just I’m in the room, I’m working on one person, they’re super conscious of this and already a little skiddish being there, and a patient just walks in and walks right by us, like two feet by us, and just walks in, no mask or anything like that. I’m like, “Hey, you got a mask?” And he’s like, “Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, no, I got it right here.” I’m like, “Okay, well, are you going to use it?” And so, we kind of chewed him out a little bit.

Mike Scaduto: Yeah. And I think that’s appropriate to do. I think definitely remind people of the policies. I will say that potentially people don’t read signs that are on the door. So, even if you text them beforehand, it may be a good idea to remind them as soon as they get there. Yeah. It’s a tough situation because people maybe breeze through the signs and stuff that are on the door. And I guess it’s up to the clinic to enforce the policy at that point.

Mike Reinold: Yeah. But hopefully you tell them once and if you make it stern or strict enough. Like that, for example, that patient’s been completely fine. Now, on the other hand, I had a similar situation with a PT student that will be nameless. We only have one right now. But he did the same thing. He walked right in and he didn’t have his mask on. It was in his backpack. So I was just like, “Hey, you going to put your mask on?” He’s like, “Oh yeah, yeah, yeah.” I’m like, “Ah.” Especially as a PT, it’s not your first day, no excuse, you got to be careful. So we’re going to be in that. So, this is the first time we’ve talked about that. I was going to slack you that Mike, sorry. But yeah, it’s okay to be snark. So, all right, I’m going to let you in on Champions five step system for reopening. Ready? This is how I think. But we’re doing five things to prepare.

Mike Reinold: One, we’re preparing our facility. And that’s the big thing. Do you have cleaning supplies? Do you have appropriate spacing? Do you have everything you need to be able to start business? When this first happened, we had a staff meeting. We were still in person because it was just so brand new, but one of the first things we said, Lenny and I were talking about it to the staff, and we said, “Hey, if this is like a zombie apocalypse, in a zombie apocalypse the number one resource is probably going to be food. Well, we’re in a pandemic, a health pandemic right now. Our number one resource right now is cleaning supplies. If Champion runs out of cleaning supplies, we’re going to starve. And then we have to close.” If we don’t have hand sanitizer, we don’t have cleaning supplies, we have to close, because then we can’t conduct our business. So prepare your facility and get that stuff ahead of time. If you haven’t done it now, it’s probably too late and good luck. But prepare your facility. That’s number one.

Mike Reinold: Two, prepare your systems. So what is your cleaning system? What is your inventory system? What is your staff check-in system? Where they come in, we’re going to answer three questions. Do you have a fever? Do you feel ill? Were you around anybody that feels ill or has COVID? It’s got to be no, no, no, temperature check, sign, you get to work today. Those sorts of things. Prepare your systems with clients. Same thing, prepare updates to your professional liability waivers that you’re going to have. Because we’re going to now have to include viruses and pandemics to our liabilities. We’ve never had to do that before. So prepare your facility, prepare your systems.

Mike Reinold: Three, prepare your staff. Don’t assume that your staff knows that A, the patient needs to come in with a mask, and B, that they have the power to yell at them if they didn’t wear the mask like we were just kind of saying. Prepare your staff on the protocols, the cleaning system. Everything you need to know so that we are top notch. We have to convince the outside world that you’re going to be safe in our facility.

Mike Reinold: Four then comes up to that, prepare your clients now, your patients. So that’s sending out emails, sending info out to your referral sources. Here is how we’re going to assure your safety. That’s an important one.

Mike Reinold: And then lastly, this is the curve ball, prepare to act quickly when things change. And I know Lenny and I have learned several lessons in the last few months that we will definitely do differently next pandemic. Hopefully that never happens. But we’ve learned a lot and you have to prepare to act quickly. Okay.

Mike Reinold: So that’s our five step system to prepare for this. And trust me, there’s a lot that goes into each one. But hopefully that all makes sense. Mike, did you wave, did you have a little something?

Mike Scaduto: Five steps.

Mike Reinold: Five steps. That’s our five step Champion, COVID, reopening activation plan, systemized fashion system.

Dan Pope: So, a lead magnet. That’s awesome.

Mike Reinold: I know. Do I always think lead magnets? I always think blog post headlines, but…

Dan Pope: Got to sign up.

Mike Reinold: That’s how I think, we’re doing a free webinar tomorrow. That’s just how I think. I’m very systems mindset based thing. But if you do that, you cover all your bases. So, Joe, no that’s not Joe, that’s Lindsay. Lindsay, I hope Indianapolis isn’t as bad as Boston, but hopefully you do the right thing and you introduce this well. And hopefully some of these tips can be applied really to anybody, both fitness, physical therapy, I mean all the same stuff for the gym too. So great question. Thank you so much. Everyone be safe. Thank you so much during this time, to continue to listen. Be sure to rate or review us on iTunes, Spotify. Head to our website, ask us more questions and we will see you on the next episode. Thank you so much.

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