Inconsistencies in masking protocols in Saskatchewan physio, massage therapy clinics

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Rules around the type of masks people wear while receiving some health services in Saskatchewan aren’t uniform across different professional and regulatory groups.

The Saskatchewan College of Physical Therapists (SCPT) said it has made recommendations to providers based on information from the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) that the blue, disposable masks are the best option for patients to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The SHA made it mandatory for anyone inside one of its facilities to be wearing the surgical disposable masks in early December.

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The college said it sent out a notification to its members that it suggests physical therapists follow the personal protective equipment (PPE) guidelines laid out by the SHA even if they work out of a private business.

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“Even though the clinics are not governed by SHA, we do feel that the people who are researching the PPE for the SHA are really the experts in that field of infection control,” interim executive director Brandy Green told Global News.

She noted these are simply recommendations made by the college as it can’t regulate what patients wear as a protective face covering and only oversees regulations for physical therapists.

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The province mandated mask use inside public spaces on Nov. 19.

That requirement states the use of a non-medical mask is mandatory when at medical service centres and offices such as doctor’s offices, dentist offices, physiotherapists and therapeutic massage clinics.

The Massage Therapist Association of Saskatchewan (MTAS) said it’s following the guidelines put out by the province where patients need to be masked, whether cloth or disposable.

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An inconsistency occurs because each regulatory body oversees its own members but the members can work together under one roof at a private clinic, such as a massage therapist or acupuncturist working out of a physiotherapy clinic.

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Generally, in that case, the decision is left to individual businesses on what masking policy they want in place.

“We have RMTs (registered massage therapists) that work in multidisciplinary clinics. They might have different rules depending on what the professions are that are maybe more dominant in those clinics,” MTAS president Camille Lapierre said.

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“It can create confusion and so there has been discussions between the different regulators about consistency between different health professions on the standards that are in place,” Green added.

She noted she doesn’t think a hard and fast rule for mask wearing will be put in place because regulators don’t have the ability to say what kind of covering patients can wear.

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