The Adventist Health Tehachapi Valley Physical Therapy Clinic has reopened its doors to patients following its mandatory closure during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Closing the clinic was a difficult decision for Adventist Health, but as with all public businesses, it was necessary to comply in order to keep the community and staff safe, said Dr. Christine Travis, PT, DPT.

Prior to closing in April, Travis said, the clinic saw 20 to 25 clients per day. During the outpatient closure, clients were provided with exercise programs they could do at home. Inpatient physical therapy at the hospital, however, continued during the closure.

On June 15, the clinic reopened and began welcoming patients back inside to receive necessary treatment.

The clinic provides physical therapy for individuals of all ages.

"After injury, illness or surgery, we help to restore mobility, strength and function to our patients. We get people moving and getting them back to the things they love," said Dr. Travis.

The clinic offers its patients a variety of ways to help restore function, including therapeutic exercises, manual techniques and exercise equipment.

"We believe in hands-on care," Travis said.

Before reopening, the clinic was mandated to follow California OSHA guidelines as well as Adventist Health's own guidelines.

"We have taken every step, every precaution and every measure necessary to not only keep ourselves safe, but also our patients safe," Travis said.

Patients are now screened at the front door, which involves taking their temperature and answering a few questions. Once they pass the screen, they are allowed to enter the building and receive therapy.

Social distancing is provided by limiting the number of patients allowed inside the clinic at any given time.

According to Josh Pierce, who has been the manager of training and development for Adventist Health Tehachapi Valley for the past year, the design of the clinic has been redesigned to enable social distancing.

"Since COVID changes often, we are staying up to date with all of the guidelines and recommendations that are evident, and we are following all those that are set out," said Pierce.

Everyone, staff and patients, is required to wear a mask. Those who do not have a mask are provided with one. 

"For patients who are unable to breathe through a cloth mask, we provide them with a surgical mask. If the surgical mask is still difficult for them in any way, we have face shields that we will provide them so they can breathe easier," said Travis.

Hand sanitizer is also readily available, and patients are encouraged to use it.

Patient appointments are now staggered to adhere to allow for social distancing.

Said Pierce, "In the future, we are looking at the potential of expanding hours, but we are not there right now."

Pierce went on to say that a lot of patients are still apprehensive about receiving medical care due to the coronavirus.

"They should not be," Pierce said. "We are open, and we are safe, and we are able to care for our patients right now."

Patients who have been exposed to the virus or are experiencing symptoms themselves are asked to reschedule their appointment.

Located at 116 W. F St., the clinic is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call the clinic at 823-3075.

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