Should I go to this provider?
June 18, 2021 11:41 AM   Subscribe

I am going to be going to see a new physical therapist soon. When I called their office and asked if everyone there was vaccinated, the receptionist said she didn't think so. Should I even go here or not? I am fully vaccinated.

On the one hand, maybe some therapists can't get the vaccination, on the other hand these people see patients at close quarters and maybe some of those patients aren't fully protected due to lack of efficacy or whatever. She did say everyone wears a mask.
posted by Rufous-headed Towhee heehee to Grab Bag (10 answers total)
Are you vaccinated? If so, and the staff all wear masks, I would go. YMMV.
posted by AugustWest at 11:47 AM on June 18, 2021

It would really depend on whether all of them are wearing masks properly (no slipping around and no escaped noses).
posted by quince at 11:53 AM on June 18, 2021

Best answer: Surprisingly (to me), a lot of health systems are not requiring all their employees to be vaccinated. I'm guessing the calculation is something like, "Better to have enough employees to actually provide the services our patients need than to require vaccination and potentially lose out on a pool of workers who balk at the requirement." There are probably many PT offices where all the employees are vaccinated even if it's not required, and you could call around and ask them.

But if you're worried that this is some kind of bad sign that they are unusually reckless about patient safety, I don't think it signifies much one way or the other that the receptionist can't confirm that all the employees are vaccinated. I don't think you should avoid this practice on principle.

If you have specific concerns about getting COVID (like if you're immunosuppressed or something) then yeah, weigh the risk of going to PT vs. the benefit you'd expect to receive; maybe see whether there is another practice in the area (a smaller one perhaps) where all the employees are vaccinated; or try to get the first appointment of the day, maybe. But the risk is very, very low.

Also I'm assuming you're in the US, not, say, India.
posted by mskyle at 11:55 AM on June 18, 2021 [1 favorite]

I can tell you only that I wouldn't go; it's reflective of an attitude where full compliance with the wisest course of action is not in place. If they are not requiring vaccination of their staff (and if any of their staff are refusing to be vaccinated), then I could not trust the science-based judgement of these healthcare-related practitioners.

Physical therapists are generally required to be vaccinated for measles, mumps, rubella, Hepatitis B, and lately, varicella. (TDAP and annual flu shots are usually required, as well.) They're also supposed to be screened for TB. (My understanding is that if someone's health precludes them from getting vaccinations, it is not an ADA violation to deny employment. That's a whole other conversation, and one in which I'm not competent to engage!) If they are not individually and as a place of business requiring COVID vaccinations, what else might they be skipping?

This is someone who must be in close physical contact with you, possibly touching you. You can't quickly control for them letting their masks slip or removing them momentarily. If there's anyone in your life whom you could potentially endanger, then the risk seems to far outweigh the reward. If you are concerned enough to ask the question here, then I'd encourage you to look elsewhere for a therapy group that is fully adherent to the rules.
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 1:04 PM on June 18, 2021 [10 favorites]

I’ve been in physical therapy throughout the pandemic. All providers and patients have been wearing masks properly. I don’t live in a high-risk area but I never felt unsafe before vaccination became more common place. I don’t trust people saying they’re vaccinated anyway I just assume pessimistically that they could be lying as much as not lying.
posted by gryphonlover at 2:10 PM on June 18, 2021

If you are vaccinated, you almost certainly can't get the disease. That's what vaccines are for. Why else would they exist? I wouldn't give it a second thought.
posted by AugustusCrunch at 2:18 PM on June 18, 2021 [1 favorite]

Generally health care providers have not been required in many places (and there is some hesitancy). Likely you will not find a place full of vaccinated pts and ptas
posted by sandmanwv at 2:35 PM on June 18, 2021

Best answer: Your vaccination will reduce the risk of you catching a Covid or variant, and decrease the severity significantly if you do (though it’s iffy on not as bad for the known prominent current variant, Delta.)

Wear a mask and ask them to, and talk to your insurance about alternatives.
posted by tilde at 2:43 PM on June 18, 2021

Best answer: If you are vaccinated, you almost certainly can't get the disease. That's what vaccines are for. Why else would they exist? I wouldn't give it a second thought.

You can still get the disease but your risk of dying from it is now minimal.

I thinknyou have several things to think about here:

-Did the receptionist think you meant both patients and providers? There are frequently as many patients and and ptas in my pt office and there's no way to know the status of the other patients.

-ask if they are still requiring masks or just recommending them

-is this the only place in your area thats taking your insurance? If it is, you probably need to weight your risk of worsening an injury or chronic condition against the (if you are vaccinated) minimal chance you will get COVID.

-if its not call around to different pt offices and ask what everyone's current covid policy is.

That being said you still can't control for the other patients so I would favor a location thats still requiring masks.
posted by edbles at 3:24 AM on June 19, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Employees have HIPAA/privacy rights also so I think it's going to be interesting to see how HIPAA vs "right to know" plays out over the next few months. I think a site, particularly a medically oriented one, might choose to self-disclose an overall approach (ie., post a sign that "All eligible employees are vaccinated for all relevant conditions, including Flu and COVID.") but technically this is medical information that, historically, others do not have an automatic right to know.

And the same as a site's client(s) may have very valid reasons for not receiving the vaccination, so might a site's employee(s). And if there are non-eligible staff, then the nuances of signage and masking risk speculation.

Ultimately, imo, your best efforts focus on (1) awareness of a site's overall hygiene practices for handwashing and such and (2) you yourself receiving and maintaining vaccinations as recommended by the best experts in this field based on your own eligibility.
posted by beaning at 8:32 AM on June 19, 2021

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