Our mettle is forging the foundations for the future

 

It’s beginning to feel like things are going back to normal—slowly, but steadily. At the time of writing, all states and territories have begun the journey of reopening our societies and economies.

By the time the month comes to an end, we will be able to dine in restaurants, go to gyms, enjoy overnight stays in our own regions and spend more time with loved ones. Interstate travel, and certainly travel overseas, will be the stuff of dreams for a while yet. Even then, it feels like that is no longer as unreachable as it seemed in April.

It wasn’t that long ago that I wrote a Final Word as the process of lock-down was beginning. We were grappling with whether or not physiotherapy was deemed an essential service, whether face-to-face consultations can and should continue, and many of our members were preparing to close their doors fora while.

Physios in the public sector were nervously preparing for what seemed like an inevitable surge in demand on ICU facilities.

In many respects, though we have suffered, as a nation we have done remarkably well and we undertake our road to recovery with optimism and a sense of relief at having avoided the worst.

As a profession we took to telehealth like ducks to water.

Only days ago I was the happy recipient of a phone call from a colleague at Private Health Australia, praising the efforts of physios and the APA for adopting telehealth so quickly and so well. Physiotherapy now accounts for the largest number of telehealth consult rebates in allied health.

Had the profession botched this, our chances of securing telehealth funding into the future would have been close to non-existent; instead, we’re in as positive a position to advocate for telehealth funding as we could possibly be.

Additionally, I am confident that the government has taken notice of physios’ readiness to put up their hands to support surge capacity building and upskilling en-masse to work in ICUs across the country. The APA has worked collaboratively with Federal Minister for Health Greg Hunt, the Department of Health, and chief allied health advisors in each state and territory on a number of matters.

All have appreciated our readiness to proactively find solutions and communicate with speed to our members.

In this crisis, physiotherapy has proven itself to be a valuable, agile and responsive profession, able to cope with the most challenging of situations. We’ve seized this opportunity to build a solid foundation to advocate for what’s important to us in the future.

Though COVID-19 is a challenge unlike anything we’ve seen in the recent past, we rose to meet it as a united, mighty profession. I am enormously proud of that. Here’s to brighter days ahead.

 

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