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Community in the Time of COVID-19

Sheridan, Laura PT, DPT, CLT

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doi: 10.1097/01.REO.0000000000000234
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Every night at 7 pm since March 27, New York City is filled with the sounds of clapping, cheering, music, and celebration. While the city that doesn't sleep was also the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, these few minutes every evening were a welcome break from the drama of the day. It's a moment to celebrate the workers on the front line and a moment of time where the city is united for a common cause. As I write these 3 months into the pandemic, this tradition is still ongoing and strong as is the need to continue to adjust our day to day to keep up with the ever-evolving national health care crisis. This was an early example of how communities are vital during times of need.

From the start, APTA put out a powerful statement advocating for us as professionals to work at the top of our license and make decisions on how to provide services needed while balancing everyone's safety. APTA's leadership provided necessary guidance to understand how best to move forward while every day presented a new fact or set of circumstances that required us to change our approach from the day before. As a community, physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, and Student Physical Therapists (SPT) from all different regions, sections, and academies came together to provide the support needed to navigate these uncharted waters. The APTA community showed up and has remained a constant throughout.

Everyone's perspective has been shaped by his or her individual experiences during this pandemic including people impacted by cancer and chronic illness and our members. We have had to make personal decisions on how best to keep our families and selves safe. We have had to make professional decisions on how best to keep our patients and staff safe. Some of us have participated in prone assist programs in the acute care settings, entered homes of patients with COVID-19, launched telehealth for the first time, have been furloughed, or worked longer hours to keep up with the change and adjust our care delivery models. No matter the experience, I think it safe to say we have all been affected. We have all contributed to the front lines in some way to ensure patients continue to receive the care needed while maintaining a safe environment to do so. The approach to care has not been one size fits all. It has required the collaboration we have seen at the section, academy, and chapter levels as well with APTA national to achieve the small victories within our practice to date and reflect on lessons learned to strengthen our approach moving forward. Similar to the nightly 7 pm cheers, there is comfort in knowing we are not alone in this experience and can rely on each other and our communities to get through.

I'm very proud of the work our Academy and members have done during this time. Special Interest Group (SIG) leaders shared out collective resources to all members from the beginning as they were developed. Webinars were created and made available to our members including “COVID-19 and Cancer Rehab: Meeting the Needs of Survivors During a Pandemic and Beyond,” sponsored by AACPT and APTA Oncology, and “Staying Healthy During the COVID-19 Pandemic,” sponsored by APTA Oncology Balance and Falls SIG. There was strong collaboration among sections and academies that APTA Oncology was fortunate to be a part of that resulted in additional resources for all to access including the Cross-Academy/Section COVID-19 Core Outcome Measure Task Force that worked together to identify a core set of outcome measures for patients diagnosed with COVID-19, across the continuum of care in all settings. Our members remained active and engaged on the listservs and social media to help one another navigate through these unpredictable and challenging times. It is the strength, generosity, and community of our members that sustained so many during this time, making sure we can provide the safe, quality care necessary.

COVID-19 will forever change the landscape of health care and the life we knew. As the world navigates many changes at once, the one constant we can all rely on is our community and support as health care professionals and an Academy.

Stay healthy, safe, and strong.

Best regards,

Laura Sheridan, PT, DPT, CLT

© 2020 Academy of Oncologic Physical Therapy, APTA.