I run a private healthcare facility Artros Rehabilitation Andrzej Niewiński in Białystok, where I specialize in orthopaedic and neurological rehabilitation. Due to the pandemic we had to close our clinic on the 16th of March but it was only for a brief moment. It quickly turned out that we need to help numerous patients after surgical procedures who are at risk of deep vein thrombosis or other complications. We were also contacted by cardiological patients who suffered a cardiac arrest.
Andrzej Niewiński, Doctor of Health Sciences – Founder of the Artros Rehabilitation Andrzej Niewiński in Białystok, where he leads a team of physiotherapists. He specializes in rehabilitation of peripheral joints, especially humeral joint, knee joint and facet joints. Certified International Therapist of Orthopaedic Medicine according to Cyriax and certified therapist of the PNF method, educator – assistant, Chief of the Laboratory of Manual Therapy and Medical Massage at the Rehabilitation Clinic of the Medical University of Bialystok, Member of the ESSKA (European Society of Sports Traumatology Knee Surgery and Arthroscopy). Twenty-one years of experience in working with patients.
I had to rearrange my work in the office, so that patients would not have any physical contact with each other. It was not so difficult, since the total surface of our facility is 500 m2. It was enough to allow every physiotherapist work in a different office. Of course we also implemented all safety standards, including contactless temperature measurements, questionnaires about COVID-19 for every patient, as well as equipping ourselves with protective gloves, masks and hand sanitizers.
One day a police car drove up my office. Of course the officers wanted to come inside but I didn’t permit them since they weren’t wearing masks. I asked them to wait outside until I finish working with my patient and approached them after my visit was finished.
It occurred that someone has filed a report, accusing us of allowing for illegal gatherings of people in our facility. It wasn’t true. On a really large surface, there were only two patients. One of them was just finishing his visit and the other was waiting for me to begin the session. Those patients didn’t even have a chance to communicate with each other. We were also accused of allowing physiotherapists to conduct rehabilitation despite the restrictions. I explained to them, quoting KIF recommendations, that we can provide therapeutic services in specific cases (one of the officers was aware of this regulation).
The policemen fulfilled all necessary procedures and asked me about the details of the functioning of my facility during the pandemic. The conversation went smoothly, in a friendly atmosphere and the policemen demonstrated good understanding of my situation. I explained everything and no fee was imposed on me. We shook our hands in protective gloves.
I wanted to know who contacted the police and why he or she did such a thing. However, the name of this person wasn’t revealed to me. The officers only informed me that we need to strengthen the relations in our community because it seems like we’re now disturbing each other. They implied that someone from our profession has filed a report but I am not sure if that is true. Anyone could have done that.
This whole situation was really sad for us. Each of the physiotherapists was scared. I introduced more limits in our work, limited the number of physiotherapists working at the same time and organized a system of shifts, just in case. Some physiotherapists continued to treat their patients, other patients resigned on their own. We admitted only the ones who required permanent physiotherapeutic care.
Currently we are going back to a new reality. Older patients still fear to come back. To some patients who are afraid of coming to our office, we are able to offer help over the phone, e.g. by instructing them how they can manage back pain. But such patients constitute only a small group, the majority has already returned to rehabilitation.