MT Associations, Regulatory Colleges address Coronavirus outbreak
March 17, 2020 By Staff
With recent developments on the pandemic and in accordance with our mandate to protect the public, CMTO is currently reviewing practice questions that we are receiving from Ontario’s Massage Therapists (“RMTs” and “MTs”), and assessing how best to protect the public. CMTO will continue to monitor the current environment, but has the following recommendations for RMTs at this time.
- Suspend All Non-Essential Massage Therapy Treatment
It is extremely important that any RMTs who are treating clients implement the following practices to help prevent the transmission of COVID-19.
- Undertake active and passive screening of clients – screen clients over the phone before scheduling appointments and post signage developed by Ontario’s Ministry of Health in your reception area asking clients with symptoms to identify themselves.
- Practice rigorous infection prevention practices (resources below).
- Self-isolate for 14 days if you have recently traveled outside of Canada.
- Stay home if you are experiencing any symptoms.
The situation is evolving rapidly and CMTO will reach out to RMTs if the advice from government changes.
- Access and Implement Best Practices Guidance from the Government and Ontario
We encourage RMTs to access the following websites for the most current information and guidance:
- Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 website for health workers and healthcare employers(includes guidance for specific health sectors and screening signage for patients and visitors)
- Ministry of Health’s 2019 coronavirus (COVID-19) webpage (Learn about how the Ministry of Health is preparing, how to protect yourself, what to do if you’re sick after you travel and how to recognize possible symptoms – updated twice a day at 10:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. EST)
- Public Health Ontario’s coronavirus (COVID-19) webpage
- Public Health Agency of Canada’s coronavirus (COVID-19) webpage
RMTs are required to follow infection prevention practices at all times, in all practice settings.
Resources for infection prevention and control:
- PIDAC’s Routine Practices and Additional Precautions in All Health Care Settings
- PIDAC’s Best Practices for Environmental Cleaning for Prevention and Control of Infections in All Health Care Settings (for information about washing and drying of laundry)
- PIDAC’s Best Practices for Hand Hygiene in All Health Care Settings
- Public Health Ontario – Fact Sheet – Cleaning and Disinfection for Public Settings
- CMTO Standards
For questions about this information, please contact CMTO’s Practice Specialist at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (416) 489-2626/1-800-465-1933 extension 4124.
- CMTO Operations
CMTO will be operating a remote office as of March 17, 2020, but will continue to provide services to the public and to registrants. A notice with additional details will be sent separately.
We want to support our members during this time of COVID-19 by ensuring that you’re staying informed and consulting credible resources.
The information about this situation is rapidly changing and we will keep you updated with new information as it becomes available. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to make an announcement this afternoon with further information.
The Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 website is updated twice daily at 10:30am and 5:30pm.
The Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 website for health workers and healthcare employers now includes guidance for specific health sectors and posters with information for patients and visitors
March 17, 2020
Today we are faced with a health pandemic that none of us have ever experienced. Understandably it is causing fear and confusion.
As of March 17th, the Prime Minister has recommended “people stay home”, Calgary has declared a state of emergency and the province of Alberta has declared a state of public health emergency. We are being advised by our governments and our medical professionals to enact social distancing and stay a minimum of two meters away from others whenever possible.
The MTAA has consistently stated that we will follow the recommendations of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, and the recommendations of Alberta Health Services. Today, with the Alberta government declaring a state of public health emergency and the increasing recommendations from the Chief Medical Officer of Health to practice social distancing, the MTAA is strongly recommending our members take the following action:
Immediately cease all massage therapy services until at least March 30th, 2020.
Massage Therapy is not an essential front-line medical service. Although it is an incredibly effective and beneficial healthcare service, the risks of potentially contracting or transmitting COVID-19 generally outweigh the benefits of massage therapy treatment.
The MTAA acknowledges that the decision to shut down your practice is incredibly difficult. There are personal, financial and ethical considerations, and many of you will face significant financial hardship as a result. This recommendation was not a decision we made lightly. The College of Massage Therapists of Ontario (CMTO), the College of Massage Therapists of British Columbia (CMTBC) and the Canadian Physiotherapy Association have all recommended that their clinicians suspend their practices immediately.
Nationally, it has become clear that it is time to take extreme measures to help flatten the curve of this virus. We need to help our first-line healthcare providers save the lives of Canadian’s. We can do this by suspending our practices, applying social distancing in our lives, and stopping the spread of COVID-19. We know our members want to do what is right, even if it the hard choice, and it is clear the right choice today is to suspend all massage therapy activities.
The MTAA is continuing to watch and speak with our government partners in hopes that there will be financial assistance to all members who suspend their practice, whether they are independent contractors, clinic owners or employees. We will continue to update you with any new developments as soon as we receive them.
Together we can support each other, persevere through this incredibly difficult time, and continue to help all Canadians maximize their health.
(Information prior to March 17)
The MTAA recommends all its members:
1) Contact all scheduled clients and advise them not to attend their appointment if:
- The client has travelled outside of Canada in the past two weeks
- The client has a fever, cough, and/or difficulty breathing
- The client has had close contact with a person confirmed or suspected of having COVID-19
- The client has shown signs of any acute respiratory illness in the past 2 weeks.
2) Advise clients who have travelled outside of Canada or who have any of the above-listed symptoms to self-isolate and call 811.
3) Advise clients who are coming into your clinics to wash/ sanitize their hands prior to entering your clinic and after receiving their treatment.
4) Follow proper infection control guidelines, standards of practice and hygiene best practices.
CMTBC has received questions from RMTs about the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak and how to respond as health practitioners. So far, questions have fallen into two main categories:
- What are the appropriate infection control protocols that an RMT should follow?
- What, if any, obligation does an RMT have regarding a patient who gives a positive response to COVID-19 screening questions?
The most important authority for all RMTs to be aware of and to consult is the Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) website, and specifically the BCCDC webpage for health professionals.
The BCCDC offers guidance to health professionals that is updated on an ongoing basis, including links to the Public Health Agency of Canada website, which sets out case definition and testing guidelines.
Both of the above websites provide guidelines on infection control.
CMTBC has not been advised that it is mandatory for RMTs to screen their patients. However, if the RMT chooses to ask appropriate screening questions, and the patient provides an affirmative response, the RMT should ask if the patient has reported him- or herself to the health authority that corresponds to the patient’s primary place of residence.
If a patient advises that they have not reported themselves to their local health authority, the RMT should encourage the patient to do so.
If a patient who provides an affirmative initial response has reported, or indicates that they will report, no further action is required at this time by the RMT other than to note and retain a written record of their communication with the patient.
The province of PEI has confirmed its first case of COVID-19.
The most important resource for PEI health practitioners is the PEI Government’s COVID-19 website as well as the Public Health Agency of Canada website which have the most detailed current and reliable information on COVID-19 for health professionals, including the interim national case definition for coronavirus disease website
The College encourages therapists to review the professions Standards of Practice document as well as the Public Health Agency of Canada for further guidance on infection control.
The CMTPEI advises that the best protection against being infected with the COVID-19 virus is to take the same precautions as you would during cold and flu season: wash your hands often with soap and water; cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing; avoid others who are unwell; and stay at home when you are sick. The College would also like to remind therapists that massage therapy is NEVER indicated for clients with flu symptoms. The Public Health Agency of Canada also provides information on social distancing measures website
The College will continue to update therapists as information is made available by Health Canada and the Province of PEI.
New Brunswick (ANBMT) via Facebook
An Update: COVID-19 and New Developments for Our Members
Dear Members: This is an unprecedented time for everyone. We fully understand and appreciate that there is a lot of fear around these unknowns. It is important for us to try to provide you with as much information as possible in a timely manner (as we receive it). Your patience at this time is greatly appreciated.
It is completely understandable that you are worried about your livelihood, particularly given that many RMTs are self-employed. These are exceptional circumstances and we are doing our absolute best to keep you up-to-date with any and all developments in this regard. It is important to continue to reference reputable resources for information regarding COVID-19 as determined by the Department of Health (NB), and the Government of Canada..
Please direct your inquiries regarding your massage therapy practice to the College (CMTNB), as they are the profession regulator. This is not within the ANBMT’s jurisdiction or within our power to make these decisions and judgements. The ANBMT is the advocating body.
Note: We have been informed by the College registrar, Charline McLean, that they will be issuing a mass email statement very soon for all RMTs. Please stay tuned for that message!
Executive Director, ANBMT
The AQTN recommends postponing (and not canceling) massage consultations for two weeks, if they are not for medical reasons (example: in a hospital). Full link to their correspondence here.
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