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Department of Homeland Security Designates Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and Speech Therapy as Critical Infrastructure

PT, OT, and SLP are Considered Critical Infrastructure

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security agency (CISA) is a part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). According to CISA: “CISA is responsible for protecting the Nation’s critical infrastructure from physical and cyber threats. This mission requires effective coordination and collaboration among a broad spectrum of government and private sector organizations.”

One task of this agency is to identify “critical infrastructure” that is deemed important enough to be a priority to be kept running in times of national emergency.

You may be thinking of infrastructure like roads and bridges but in this case, they are referring to key and core workers. On March 19, 2020, CISA issued a memo in an effort to delineate which professionals fall into this category.

Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists, and Speech Langauge Pathologists are specifically notes in the document.

Here is a portion of the memo where the general idea is provided:

In accordance with this mandate, and in collaboration with other federal agencies and the private sector, CISA developed an initial list of “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers” to help State and local officials as they work to protect their communities, while ensuring continuity of functions critical to public health and safety, as well as economic and national security.

CISA Memo 3/19/20

Here is a portion where PT, OT, and SLPs are named specifically:

Caregivers (e.g., physicians, dentists, psychologists, mid-level practitioners, nurses and assistants, infection control and quality assurance personnel, pharmacists, physical and occupational therapists and assistants,social workers, speech pathologists and diagnostic and therapeutic technicians and technologists

CISA Memo 3/19/20

As the document itself points out, this list is not binding but it is meant, as per above, to give state and local officials guidance as they make decisions at their level. That means there could be a very real implication at your more local level. Here is where that is described.

Accordingly, this list is advisory in nature. It is not, nor should it be considered to be, a federal directive or standard in and of itself.

CISA Memo 3/19/20

You can read the memo in its entirety by clicking here.

The Bottom Line

Things continue to evolve at a rapid pace. While the practical impacts of being named as part of critical infrastructure may not be 100% clear, it is a clear recognition of the importance that PTs, OTs, and SLPs play in a patient’s well-being and health.

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