What will Alert Level 3 mean for osteopaths? We have been asked a lot of questions about this, and they have mainly been revolved around: “Will you be able to open your doors and see patients?”
The short answer is yes. However, it is not quite as clear cut as that, so please read on.
We are able to operate in Level 3, but only in extreme circumstances – exactly the same as other allied health professionals such as physiotherapists, chiropractors, podiatrists and acupuncturists. For the sake of transparency, the following is an excerpt from a letter sent to all allied health providers:
In Alert Level 3 the following guidance remains:
- Virtual appointments should be provided where possible and is the preferred method of service delivery. Face-to-face appointments may be provided for urgent care only so long as professionals can take appropriate measures to manage public health.
‘Urgent care’ for community allied health professionals is defined as:
- a condition which is life or limb threatening
- treatment required to maintain the basic necessities of life
- treatment that cannot be delayed or carried out remotely without risk of significant harm or permanent and/or significant disability
- treatment which cannot be delivered by a service which is currently operating or by health professionals that are already in contact with the patient.
We are already providing telehealth consultations, which patients are finding beneficial.
In reality, the two bullets that apply to us are the second and the fourth, as we do not deal with the first and third – they should be seen by a hospital.
After discussion with other practitioners and taking advice from our professional body, we will be able to see people: whose pain is such that they have been unable to sleep for consecutive nights, are unable to mobilise to carry out basic tasks or are in a situation where they are unable to provide care for their family. We have been advised that acute pain alone does not qualify.
As osteopaths, we also have to wear appropriate PPE and register any treatment given with Osteopathic Council of New Zealand with a justification.
To have a face-to-face consultation, our first option has to be a telehealth consultation, in which we would go through a case history, onset, nature of the pain, aggravating factors, etc, then make a call as to whether or not a face to face consultation is justified. If that is the case, then we would organise a face to face consultation. Part of the rationale behind telehealth first is that it reduces face-to-face contact time. These consultations would ideally need to be done on consecutive days. The cost to patients will not exceed that of a single face-to-face consultation.
My colleagues – both locally and nationally – would like to be able to see anyone in pain, but that is not the way things are currently. Whilst we are private practitioners, we are regulated by the Government.
Our PPE is due to arrive on Tuesday, so we will able to see patients on Wednesday. Only Yohanna and Paul are available for face-to-face consultations during Level 3. If you want to see one of us, book a telehealth consultation and mention that you would like a face-to-face appointment in the “extra info” box. If you want more information, please email us at email@example.com. All our osteopaths are available for telehealth consultations.