Portland massage therapy practitioners may now set client appointments as part of stage one Coronavirus reopening. At the same time, state guidelines set strict reopening criteria for the safety of clients and LMTs. In such amorphous times, how can therapists decide if the time is right to go back to the tableCovid-19 LMT Questions?
This question isn’t covered in massage therapist schooling, as modern times have never featured this sort of extended lockdown. To help LMTs assess their own readiness to reopen, we are providing the following relevant questions. These standards are set by the Oregon Health Authority’s Phase 1 Reopening Guidance document. As the situation may change rapidly, we encourage massage therapists to stay abreast of current news.
Questions to Ask Before Reopening a Portland Massage Therapy Clinic
Client Entry Questions
- How will I screen clients for symptoms?
Prior to a personal services appointment, providers are required to contact clients and inquire whether they have had a cough, fever, shortness of breath, or any close contact with someone who has had these symptoms or been diagnosed with COVID-19 within the past 14 days.
- Where can clients park until they are called in for their appointment?
Clients must remain outside the facility cars until notification that the practitioner is ready. Curbside pick-up times must be arranged for purchases apart from scheduled appointments.
- Will I check temperatures with a touchless thermometer?
While temperature checks are not required, you may select to use an infrared thermometer to bolster safety. If a client has a temperature above 100.3 degrees Fahrenheit, they must be rescheduled for a minimum of 72 hours after their fever and other symptoms have resolved without medication. If a client is determined to have a temperature and must await a ride home, provide a waiting area where they can self-isolate.
- How will I record appointment information?
To facilitate contact tracing, personal services providers must record client contact information, treatment dates and times, and which LMT professional delivered services. These service logs may typically be destroyed 60 days after appointments, unless required by the state.
- Can I maintain 6 feet of space between clients?
If your massage business serves multiple businesses simultaneously, you must keep them six feet apart. Use this standard to determine maximum occupancy in your massage space.
- How can I adjust operations to limit each client to only one practitioner per visit?
Facilities that offer different services from different professionals will need to shift their operations.
- What will I do if a practitioner has COVID-like symptoms?
If an employee displays shortness of breath, a cough, fever, or other COVID-like symptoms, they must be immediately sent home, and must remain at home for at least 72 hours after symptoms have resolved without medication. Therefore, employers must have back-up plans in place to continue operations if an employee must go home unexpectedly.
- Where will I post sanitation and hygiene requirements for employees and clients?
You must post signs listing COVID symptoms, asking clients and employees to stay home if they have symptoms, and listing who to contact for assistance. Employers must also train employees on sanitation, handwashing, etiquette for sneezing and coughing, and the use of protective equipment.
The Oregon Health Authority suggests additional optional operation shifts, namely covering cloth furniture with easy-to-clean plastic, replacing paper appointment books and cards with electronic options, and limiting cash transactions in favor of touch/swipe/no signature payment options. It is recommended that employees wash hands following each cash transaction.
Personal Protection Concerns
- Do I have enough masks for providing direct client services?
Service providers must wear cloth, paper, or disposable face coverings when providing client services. According to the FDA, face masks protect others around you by preventing your respiratory droplets from spreading. Disposable masks should be replaced if they become wet or soiled. Cloth masks should be laundered before each daily use. Medical grade masks are recommended but not required for massage therapists. Face shields with masks are recommended for face-to-face services.
- Where will I wash my hands between clients and after payments?
Between each client service, practitioners must wash their hands with warm, soapy water for a minimum of 20 seconds. After using a cash register, computer, telephone, or credit machine, practitioners must wash their hands, and wipe down devices as well. All sinks must have soap and paper towels available, and handwashing signs must be displayed in restrooms.
The Oregon State Health Authority also recommends that you change your clothes between massage clients, and again before leaving your business for the day.
Note: This list of questions assumes you are already changing linens between each client, as required by state facilities and sanitation guidelines.
Cleaning and Disinfection Measures
- When will I deep clean all areas of my business?
Before reopening a massage business that has been closed, practitioners must thoroughly clean and disinfect all tools, surfaces, and linens, even if everything was cleaned before the business was closed.
- Are my disinfectant products EPA-registered?
Between clients, practitioners must clean and disinfect all workstation and treatment room surfaces. Disinfectant only works on a clean surface, so clean first and then apply a disinfectant that is listed as bactericidal, virucidal, and fungicidal. If you are not sure about a certain product’s efficacy, check with the EPA’s website.
- How much time do I need to schedule between clients for cleaning and disinfecting?
In addition to your regular turn-around time between clients, add time for cleaning with soapy water, applying a disinfectant, and allowing enough contact time for the disinfectant to work. Each disinfectant product lists requisite contact time on the label. For immersion and spray disinfectants, contact time is typically 10 minutes; disinfectant wipes require 2-4 minutes. Additionally, you will need time to clean and disinfect non-porous surfaces in your treatment area, as well as high-contact areas such as doorknobs. All restroom surfaces must also be cleaned thoroughly and disinfected regularly, and if you have any retail areas, they must be cleaned and disinfected daily.
- Do I need to change my laundry or trash procedures?
Massage therapists are already experts at laundry, but the state’s Phase I guidelines specifically mention that linens, blankets, towels, and smocks must be washed in soapy, hot water, and dried at the highest temperature possible. Dirty linens must be stored in an air-tight container. Linen hampers must be disinfected as well. Trash receptacles must be closable, and used with a disposable liner. And, as you probably guessed, trash cans must be disinfected regularly as well.
- Have my creams, lotions, and other treatment ointments been stored in a closed container?
Any products that have not been stored in closed containers must be discarded.
A last requirement from the state is that you have hand sanitizer available for clients and staff.
As East West College prepares to reopen its doors to students and clients, we wish all alumni and LMTs in our community a safe and joyful return to business. These past three months have felt like three years, but we are confident that if we support each other, we can rebound from these trying times. For more information about operating safely in Covid times, we recommend reviewing the Oregon Health Authority’s Phase One Reopening Guidance, which includes links to general guidance for employers and for the general public, as well as complimentary signage explaining why clients are now required to sign in for appointmentsCovid-19 LMT QuestionsEWC.