Madonna Long on COVID-19: ‘We’re used to being survivors’

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Friday, April 17, 2020

GREENSBURG, Pa. – Because wheelchair users often use their hands or mouths to operate their equipment, keeping safe during the coronavirus pandemic can be a challenge, says Madonna Long, consumer advocate for Quantum Rehab.

HME News spoke to Long about a recent Unite4CRT virtual town hall meeting that she co-hosted about what are the best cleaning practices, how the industry can help and why wheelchair users have an advantage over able-bodied people.

HME News: What’s the best way for wheelchair users to stay safe during the pandemic?

Madonna Long: Stay in your home. If you don’t have to go out, don’t go out there and make sure all the equipment around your chair—anything you use—is always clean and disinfected.

HME: What can complex rehab providers do to help?

Long: The biggest thing is making sure that new products, or anything they’ve fixed, are clean and that they’re using gloves so that they’re not bringing anything they’ve touched to that product. They’re also doing some good things like fixing chairs outside the home and then dropping it off at the front door. They’re not going into the home and that’s really important because we’re talking about the most vulnerable people: their patients. Also, providers should call their customers and let them know what their new procedures are based on the coronavirus, or make sure they have those on their website or their Facebook pages.

HME: What about Medicare and other payers?

Long: Medicare and all of them have actually waived the face-to-face with the doctor, so we’re able to do that via telemedicine. That’s been a really good call by Medicare. One of the things insurance providers can do is wave the in-network requirement.

HME: This is a challenging time. How is being a wheelchair user extra challenging?

Long: We’re used to surviving. We know our limitations because we’ve already had to live within our environment (prior to social distancing). So that gives us an advantage over the rest of the population. They get to know how our life is now.