Marla R. Robinson, Brenda Koverman, Carson Becker, Kate E. Ciancio, Gail Fisher, Serena Saake; Lessons Learned From the COVID-19 Pandemic: Occupational Therapy on the Front Line. Am J Occup Ther 2021;75(2):7502090010. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2021.047654
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© 2021 American Occupational Therapy Association
The pandemic caused by coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) highlighted the insufficient public health policies and lack of a national pandemic response strategy. Rehabilitation departments faced barriers to providing care in the traditional manner and needed to consider protection of patients and staff, staffing and personal protective equipment shortages, and uncertainty about best practices to address a novel health condition. This article highlights the strategies implemented by acute care occupational therapy leaders to support their staff; facilitate efficient care provision; and pivot with constantly changing policies, procedures, and research during the COVID-19 crisis. Occupational therapy’s distinct value in caring for this population and role in responding to the pandemic are shared to provide a guidepost for future health care crises.
Remain fluid and flexible
Communicate frequently with updates and changes in policy and procedure to ensure that staff are well informed
Think broadly and be creative to establish new roles for occupational therapy practitioners
Support staff and help develop strategies to build their resiliency
Provide support to staff through creative staffing models to help them balance work and personal life, because many are supporting children doing virtual learning from home and providing support to elderly family members to keep them in home environments
Rely on and use the occupational therapy practice foundations and theories to guide evaluation and treatment of new and unknown diagnoses.
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