Unless you've been hiding under a rock, if you live in Melbourne then you'll be aware that our local new COVID19 cases have been dramatically increasing, and that in response to the rapid rise of infection numbers, Premier Dan Andrews has rolled Metro Melbourne back into Stage 3 Restrictions.
What does this mean for your treatment plan with your Myotherapist or Remedial Massage Therapist?
The good news is that Myotherapy and Remedial Massage have been given the OK by the Health Department, and getting a treatment is included in the four reasons to leave your home under the Seeking Medical Care category.
However, we're taking a cautious approach.
We are planning a short closure from Thursday 9th July to Sunday 19th July, and aim to reopen from Monday 20th July.
Why are we closing if the Health Department have not forced us to close?
In short, we want time to gather more data about these spikes in infection to inform our risk assessment.
We closed for 9 weeks when the pandemic was first announced. At that time, most infections in Melbourne were coming from international travelers and people returning home from overseas. Health experts were unsure how the numbers would play out, and we followed the advice from the Association of Massage Therapists to close our doors for safety. The strict stay at home orders during March through til June appeared to keep our infection numbers low in Victoria, and these numbers have started rising quickly in the weeks since restrictions have been eased.
The situation now feels closer to home and even more serious than back in March. The infections Melbourne is experiencing right now are a high number of community transmissions.
Our choice to close for a short time is more of an ethical choice than a legal choice. Legally, we are allowed to remain open throughout the 6 week Stage 3 rollback. However, we always want to put patient health and safety first, and after a 9 week closure earlier this year we feel it would be irresponsible to ignore the very real risks that are present now.
Our current risk assessment
Thankfully, our clinic is in a location that has very few local cases. Knox has 2 active cases as of 9/7/2020, and has had less than 30 confirmed cases total throughout the pandemic, according to the Victorian Government website.
The majority of our patients live in Knox, Yarra Ranges, Casey, Maroondah and Monash council areas. Many of you are now working from home, but some are still traveling for work or have family living in other regions.
We know that some COVID19 test results are taking up to 5 days to process, which means the daily new case figures may be reflecting the test results of up to 5 days ago.
We have also seen many of our high risk patients choosing to stay home in isolation a little longer, including people with compromised immune systems, elderly or caring for elderly, or people with pre-existing respiratory conditions.
We currently expect that our risk level is relatively low due to our location, screening procedures, sanitisation and cleaning procedures.
However, we acknowledge that it would only take one infected person to potentially risk others.
What do we expect to learn by closing temporarily?
In the safety of closing for this short period, we expect to gain more insight on infection numbers close by to our clinic, and in Metro Melbourne as a whole.
We do expect numbers will continue to rise because of the delays between testing and results. We hope by taking an extra 10 days to wait on the numbers we will get a better understanding of the situation so we can modify our COVID19 Plan if we need to.
We hope to see the Knox and surrounding areas new case figures to stay low and stable.
Will we definitely reopen on Monday July 20th?
At this stage, that is our goal date. If our risk assessment findings start to indicate a higher level of risk, we will potentially extend the closure for safety of patients, our practitioners, and the doctor and staff of Together Medical Family Practice who we share facilities with.
What will happen when we reopen?
We'll continue to use our COVID19 Procedures that we created to maintain a clean and hygienic treatment environment. This includes continuing screening every person at every appointment they attend, and the longer periods between each appointment for ventilation and thorough sanitisation.
Our practitioners will be wearing masks, we'll be smiling underneath even though you can't see it!
The Together Medical Family Practice has also arranged a hygiene station at the front door for anyone who enters to use hand sanitiser and take a face mask.
Our waiting area has been rearranged to distance the chairs, and we are recommending that everyone waits in their car until we call you in to avoid the need to sit in the communal waiting room.
Who should you see if you urgently need an appointment while we are closed?
Our good friends at Tecoma Myotherapy are remaining open throughout the restrictions. Mat Richardson and his team are exceptionally caring and friendly therapists, offering Myotherapy and Remedial Massage. Let them know that we've asked them to take care of you while we are closed, we know you'll be in good hands.
Mel is a Myotherapist based in Ferntree Gully.