- Karen Stoner, LMT
Safety Stuff for COVID Times
Everything around us is a little different right now. Here in Pennsylvania, Massage Therapy has also been impacted by COVID-19. My practice was shut down in mid-March due to a stay-at-home order, then as the state started to reopen, massage wasn't cleared to reopen until our county had reached the "Green" phase. With reopening however, brings a need for extra precautions to keep everyone safe. Massage Therapy is one field where social distancing doesn't really work. I can't separate from my clients with plexiglass and still be able to do what they need me to do. The CDC as well as my insurance company have had recommendations as to things we can do to keep everyone safe. I do have a written COVID-19 Protocol listed on my website and in my office outlining the steps I'm taking to keep my office clean and as protected as possible, but I thought I'd take this opportunity to show some more details about the products I'm using to keep everything sanitized and safe.
1. All surfaces are cleaned with Barbicide and disinfectant between appointments. Cleaning agents approved for disinfecting against COVID-19 by the CDC and the EPA* are used to wipe down the table, all of my equipment, as well as the furniture, door handles, light fixtures, and everything else in the room that either I or the clients can touch in between every appointment.
2. Hand Sanitizer is available for the client's use upon entering and/or leaving the room. Bonus is that it is in a hands-free dispenser so it reduces the chance of any cross-contamination by touching a pump.
3. Products are dispensed into single-use cups to avoid cross-contamination between bottles. All of the lotions, creams, or gels that I use on each individual client is now put into individual containers for each client so that I am not touching multiple people and the same product dispensing bottle.
4. I wear a mask and safety glasses. In my protocol, I do leave mask-wearing at the discretion of my clients. (Not looking to start a fight - my practice, my rules, and I feel that my clients are coming to me to relax and if they need to breathe to relax, who am I to stop them from being able to relax? Plus I work with a lot of pregnant women and they can't breathe to begin with, so they need a little bit of relief.) However many clients are choosing to wear their masks while they lie face up and remove them while face down, and I greatly appreciate that. Nonetheless, I personally wear a mask at all times, and while I am working near a client's head, or if the client is not wearing a mask, I wear safety glasses to protect myself (and to stop myself from accidentally rubbing my eyes).
5. Multiple layers including a moisture barrier on the table and face rests. Since COVID-19 is spread through water droplets, I use a moisture barrier (waterproof layer) under all of my sheets and face rest coverings. Even though I do wash and disinfect the table and face rest while changing the sheets in between each client, the moisture barrier is one additional layer of protection to stop any water droplets from getting through the sheets and coverings and onto the table, and therefore contaminating the next people to use the table. This policy goes for both the table and my chair.
6. UV Air purifier is in my office and running throughout the day, overnight, and when the office is closed. This helps aid in cleaning the air since I have no windows in my room. The filter catches airborne particles and stops them from being redistributed into the room, and the UV feature helps break down viruses at a molecular level so they don't get back into the air.
7. UV-C Ozone Room Sanitizer is used to "zap" the entire room with UV Light plus Ozone which destroys viruses and also adds an additional layer of cleaning to soft surfaces, walls, and anywhere that the sanitizing cleaners may have missed.
8. Essential oil diffuser with anti-viral oils. Some essential oils do contain properties that can break down viruses.** Especially if I'm not in my UV-zapped office, I will use a diffuser to add a little help into the air to break down any nasties in the air.
So that's what I've got. Some of the protocols I've started using I really like and may continue using even after the concern over COVID is gone. For now, since massage therapy is such an in-contact service, we all have to do our part to keep things in such a place that we can continue to keep working without becoming a "hotspot profession" and getting shut down again. There is no guarantee that we won't get shut down again, but I at least am confident that I'm doing my best to keep my clients, myself, and my office space safe and healthy.
*CDC / EPA: https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/list-n-disinfectants-use-against-sars-cov-2-covid-19
**US National Library of Medicine / National Institutes of Health: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5552930/