Renee Kinder

I have always been a nervous driver. Slow and steady and in the slow lane is the way I travel.

Rain terrifies me. Snow? No thank you. And fog, forget it. For any of these, I am pulled over on the side of the road or at the next nearest exit.

Fog creates an immediate sense of panic for a multitude of reasons. The slow dense creep of blindness can come out of nowhere. You have no control over others’ reactions to the impact of low vision.

In the end, the overarching risk seems to outweigh the need to reach your intended destination.

In a similar sense, for many therapy professionals engaged in care across the post-acute spectrum, there can be a similar sense of angst as we come out of the COVID-19 fog.

COVID-19 — its density and reach hit us hard. 

We shifted care overnight. We saw the slow impacts of isolation within our communities, we longed for the days of onsite collaboration with families and loved ones for our patients, and we saw the shift in admission populations secondary to elimination of elective surgeries and use of isolation units to care for persons at risk for or recovering from COVID-19.

During this time of greater “lockdown” there was a sense of control, aligned focus and clarity.

Now, as we slowly creep back to normalcy, the haze of sorts, is apparent as states are individually coming out of the COVID fog.

We have gained increased flexibility; we have learned how to provide purposeful and skilled care in new ways including telehealth and have successfully advocated for interactions with families from afar. 

To all the therapy professionals across our nation, KUDOS to you!

We must continue during this period of uncertainty to keep focus, to remain ever diligent in protecting our patients, and using the appropriate PPE and infection control procedures.

For therapists with experience in development of internal infection control policies, procedures, and safeguards, you should also let your voice be heard! Remember CMS has recently designated a COVID Commission, and while no therapists were immediately identified as members, we do have the opportunity to provide feedback at NHCovidComm@mitre.org

Of equal importance as we come out of the haze, we must seek out those individuals in our communities who have declined or present with reduced function during this period of pandemic. 

We must not be fearful of the unknown, we can’t simply pull over or check out during this period, the risk for our patients and communities is simply too immense. The time now, perhaps more than ever, where we must learn to see clearly even when it seems visibility is low. 

Out of the fog we come, COVID-19, you will not shut us down. We have navigated your blinding and winding path and will arise from the smog stronger than ever. 

Renee Kinder, MS, CCC-SLP, RAC-CT, is Vice President of Clinical Services for Broad River Rehab and a 2019 APEX Award of Excellence winner in the Writing–Regular Departments & Columns category. Additionally, she serves as Gerontology Professional Development Manager for the American Speech Language Hearing Association’s (ASHA) gerontology special interest group, is a member of the University of Kentucky College of Medicine community faculty, and is an advisor to the American Medical Association’s Relative Value Update Committee (RUC) Health Care Professionals Advisory Committee (HCPAC).