Having observed the development of COVID-19 epidemic in Poland, the board of KIF decided to suspend all current initiatives of the Polish Chamber of Physiotherapists which cannot be realized online. We have also cancelled all scheduled courses, the IInd KIF Congress in April and test validation studies. The functioning of KIF office has been adjusted to the online work system. Growing concerns about epidemiological threat led to appointment of a crisis management board as early as on the 12th of March 2020.
Although we operated with tremendous speed, our actions were methodical and carefully thought through. On that same day, after 6 hours of planning, the crisis management board issued the first recommendations on patient admissions. Moreover, we were fully aware that we were publishing our guidelines faster than the Minister of Health. Experience has shown that this decision – criticized by many people as immature at that time – was right. Presumably, early limitation of physical contact has saved many of our colleagues and patients from infection.
We have made a decision to subordinate all actions of KIF to these unique circumstances and define new priorities. The major goal of our crisis management board was to ensure safety for patients and physiotherapists by recommending behaviours which limit transmission of SARS-CoV-2 virus.
The second aim of our work was to undertake initiatives and propose solutions which could mitigate the economic consequences of suspension of services provided by physiotherapists and help them survive the isolation period. The third purpose of our efforts is to prepare and introduce methods which could help physiotherapists to move forward after the epidemic crisis.
During less than a month of work, the KIF crisis management board has written more than 150 letters and requests to various institutions, including: NFZ, GIS, Ministry of Health, The Chancellery of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Poland and to the Sejm of the Republic of Poland.
The results of our work are available online, on a special subpage: http://kif.info.pl/koronawirus
We have reasons to be proud of our community, as we have completed the primary goal of our crisis management board within the first week. Normally, physiotherapists would have admitted half a million of patients every day. However, thanks to our recommendations, the majority of them have closed their offices and clinics long before the government announced its ordinance. And this is precisely how physiotherapists have contributed to slowing the transmission of the virus. We have passed the exam on responsibility which lies upon our shoulders as healthcare workers, performing a profession of public trust.
Currently, the crisis management board focuses on major actions aimed to reduce the effects of the crisis, which will undoubtedly affect many of us. It is thanks to physiotherapists who pay membership fees, that we are now able to increase the Social Committee budget to one million PLN! We are therefore creating a Solidarity Fund, allowing every physiotherapist with a stable financial situation to support those members of our professional community who have found themselves in need.
We are also creating new, special regulations on providing help for those whose life situation has changed as a result of economic lockdown caused by the pandemic of SARS-CoV-2. We already know that we will be able to offer non-refundable aid of up to 1000 PLN as a part of our Solidarity Fund. In order to simplify the process of submitting requests, we will create an online form sent via the Physiotherapy Portal. This will allow for significantly faster examination of applications. We expect approximately 5-7% of representatives from our professional field to apply for such a help. Therefore, the Social Committee will receive adequate organizational support and additional employees will be assigned to handle the processing of applications. Accordingly to arising needs and the abilities of KIF, we will gradually introduce next tranches of financial support.
It is worth noting that the social programme addressed to individuals who have found themselves in a difficult life situation, which has been realized since the beginning of 2019, has not been suspended. According to the current rules and regulations, the Social Committee may grant a non-refundable aid of up to 6 000 PLN. We believe that certain comments on social media, which demand KIF to suspend membership fees, are made far too early. It is the membership fees which allow us to fund the functioning of the Chamber, the work of which has become even more intense these days. In order to complete the tasks, which are regularly published on our website, KIF employs 101 people upon different employment agreements. As many as 98 of these employees hold various positions in the KIF management structures. Moreover, we consult numerous experts and external entities whenever we need to. In a simplified way, we may say that every day several dozen people work towards the benefit of 67 thousands of physiotherapists in Poland.
We genuinely hope that, as a professional community, we will pass the test for solidarity with the highest mark and those of our colleagues, who are the most affected by the epidemic, will come away unscathed from the crisis – thanks to your help. Today, let’s wish each other this!