I was looking forward to all the hubbub and buzz of attending the House of Delegates in person in Phoenix, Arizona. Then COVID-19 entered our world. APTA responded in a timely manner and canceled the NEXT conference and the House of Delegates in-person meeting, but they did not cancel the business that needed to take place at the House of Delegates – elections and voting on policy and bylaw motions.
The APTA staff went to work at warp speed to put technology in place to allow for a virtual House of Delegates meeting. Having never been to an in person House of Delegates meeting, I cannot compare the two, but I can tell you the virtual House went off without a hitch as far as I could tell. APTA provided trainings on how to use the technology that was used, which included online platforms Zoom and Lumi. We were “invisible” on Zoom unless we raised our hand in Lumi and were then put in the queue to speak. We also voted on the Lumi app. I was amazed at how quickly the results were tallied and shared on the Zoom meeting. What was missing was the ability to meet in-person with the Idaho delegation, but we tried our best to communicate on group texts. Another change was silence when perhaps applause would take place. This was most obvious when the Speaker of the House Sue Griffin was recognized for a job well done as she completed six years of service epitomized by grace under pressure.
Over 400 delegates from around the country participated including three from Idaho: Jon Gardunia – vice president, Darin Jernigan – delegate, and myself as chief delegate. Also, Idaho President Derek Gerber participated as an alternate delegate and Chandra Price as our PTA caucus representative.
We discussed 42 motions over the 3-day event with 33 motions passed, 6 bylaw amendments passed, 2 motions referred to special committees, 1 motion defeated and 6 motions not considered. Whew, that was a lot of work.
The outcome of motions passed that stood out to me that may be of particular interest to members:
- Section delegates will now be allowed to vote in the House of Delegates. This has been hotly debated for several years but this year a majority of delegates decided the time was right to give sections a greater voice. Each section will be limited to two delegates.
- Core values for the physical therapist are now included in the Code of Ethics for both PTs and PTAs, rather than being a separate document that applied only to PTs. (RC 14-20)
- The physical therapy profession will join the world movement to achieve zero preventable patient harm by creating a culture of safety in collaboration with other professionals, the patient and the family. (RC 21-20)
- The Association will support collaborative business models, such as value-based care collaboration, that adhere to APTA policies and procedures, patient choice, and laws and regulations such as Stark and anti trust, to name a few of the conditions. (RC 22-20)
- The Association supports the role of physical therapy in sleep health. (RC 23-20)
- The Association supports the role of physical therapy in behavioral and mental health. (RC 24-20)
- APTA will participate in workforce planning by collecting data and providing information on the supply, demand, and need of physical therapy in different geographical regions in order to enhance access to physical therapy services. This is a just a short summary of a complicated process. (RC 28-20)
- The Association supports the role of physical therapy in emergency medicine. (RC 30-20)
- To assist members in making the transition from pandemic delivered care via telehealth to post-pandemic care, the Association will develop and implement best practices for use of telehealth in physical therapy. (RC 41-20)
- The Standards of Practice for physical therapy were amended. This was to allow for a larger scope of practice including eventual primary management of patients. I suggest all PTs read the changes. Again this is too complex to elaborate in this article. (RC 20-20)
- Finally a motion was made that acknowledged the service and support of physical therapists in this current COVID-19 pandemic. (RC 42-20)
Detailed information for all of these measures is on the APTA website under the House of Delegates HUB in Communities.
Thanks Renee and the other delegates for your work and attendance, despite the circumstances!