MASSAGE IN THE TIME OF COVID-19
First, I am so excited to welcome you back to Health & Harmony! As you will discover, massage during a pandemic is going to look a little different than it has in the past. Below you will find a breakdown of those changes as well as a brief discussion of the risks we still face at this time.
One of the most challenging aspects of COVID-19 is the rate of transmission from pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals, which is estimated to be about half of infections. We must, therefore, work under the assumption that everyone, including me, could be contagious. Massage therapy, due to the close, sustained contact involved, is rated by the CDC as a medium-risk activity, provided both therapist and client are wearing face masks/coverings. Without masks, we move to high-risk. To keep all of us as safe as possible, masks will be required at all times, with a possible exception being while you are face down on the table (we will assess your comfort level and adjust accordingly).
I’ve done extensive reading on droplets and aerosols and their role in transmission (this is a great article, as is this). There is much that we still don’t know for sure about how the virus is transmitted through these, but we do know that both have the potential to carry the virus. Aerosols are produced through normal breathing, with the lowest amounts produced from slow breaths through the nose, as well as through speaking and laughing, which produce much higher amounts. To help keep these numbers as low as possible, I ask that conversation during your time in my office be limited to “therapeutic conversation,” in other words, necessary feedback about your massage. I know some of you enjoy talking about what’s going on in your life during your session, but we have to reduce risk any way we can.
Finally, there is an as yet poorly understood symptom in many patients with COVID-19 where severe blood clotting occurs. This has apparently even occurred in people with none of the other usual symptoms and in younger people with none of the usual risks for blood clots. This is particularly concerning when it comes to massage because blood clots are a major contraindication (situation where we need to avoid massage because it could be harmful). This is certainly something I will continue to try to learn more about as information becomes available.
If you are in a higher risk category either due to age or other health concerns, please consider very carefully whether or not you should receive a massage at this time. I can’t make this decision for you, but I want you to be fully aware of the risks.
Before your Session
Before your first massage back, I will call you to outline the session changes below, discuss some of the risks and catch up on how you are doing! There are two Google forms that will be required before you receive a massage during this time. The first will be completed once and is a Risk of Infection statement. The second will be completed before every session, preferably the day before your massage, and provides information about symptoms, exposure to COVID-19, and what you are doing to help reduce your risk of exposure. Both of these links will be provided to you after our phone call.
Acknowledging that we cannot completely eliminate risk at this time, here is a breakdown of how your session will look different.
I will be scheduling a longer gap between appointments to allow for expanded cleaning and disinfecting protocols. All surfaces that you may come in contact with during your time in my office will have been disinfected with an EPA approved cleaner. I will be running a HEPA air purifier during your session and then will turn it to the highest setting between sessions for maximum filtration. I have added a wipeable cover to the table to provide a barrier for the fleece pad underneath.
To ensure that all these procedures are completed, please wait in your vehicle when you arrive. I will call you when everything is done, and we will conduct your intake verbally over the phone rather than the sheet you normally fill out when you come inside. If you don’t have your cell phone, I will come out and give you a thumbs up and we will do a verbal intake after you enter.
After I have given the all-clear to enter, please don your mask/cloth face covering before entering. If you do not have a mask, one will be provided for you. Don’t forget to use hand sanitizer before handling your mask. Once it is in place and adjusted, do not touch it. Masks must be worn at all times with the possible exception of face down on the table.
Immediately upon entering, remove your shoes (and jacket or coat if you are wearing one) and leave them at the coat rack.
Proceed directly to the bathroom to wash your hands. After washing your hands, you can undress and get on the table. All clothing must either be stored on the chair or hanging on the back of the door of the treatment room. Personal items such as jewelry and glasses can go on the plate on top of the cabinet by the chair.
I will wash my hands immediately before beginning your massage. I ask that conversation during your session be limited to “therapeutic conversation” only, in other words, necessary feedback about your massage. This helps reduce our risk further.
After your session, I will wash my hands as usual. After I leave the room, I ask that you also wash your hands before dressing and coming out.
Payment will continue to be accepted by card, check or cash. However, I ask that you provide your own pen if you plan to write a check (you might consider writing it before coming), and have exact change for cash. I will have you insert your own card in the reader, and there will be no signature required. My reader does support contactless payments from Apple Pay and Google Pay.
Scheduling may be done on the phone before your session, online, or following your session. If we do it after your session, I will ask you to take a seat to allow for social distancing.
If there are any changes to your health in the 14 days after your appointment, or if someone you have been in contact with prior to your massage has a positive COVID-19 test, please contact me immediately. This is extremely important to protect both me and my other clients. If I learn that I have been exposed to COVID-19, my practice will close immediately, and I will self-quarantine for 14 days as required. Anyone I have seen after the exposure will be contacted.
Thank you so much for your cooperation in helping make your massage as safe as possible during this time. If you have any questions about any of the information or procedures above, do not hesitate to contact me. I can’t wait to see you again!