CALGARY -- As healthcare practitioners like chiropractors, physiotherapists and dieticians return to a regular but somewhat limited schedule, some say they have been surprised by the sheer amount — and cost — of personal protective equipment (PPE) that's needed.

After being closed for seven weeks, Coach Hill Chiropractic & Sports Therapy began accepting patients on May 6 and like all healthcare clinics, had to implement new rules and procedures around patient care.

That means staff now have to wear a mask while in the clinic — as do patients — and be gloved while performing treatments that require physical contact, which is most of them. They're also only able to do about half the number of appointments in a day as rooms have to be cleaned between patients. The clinic has also opted to split staff into two teams in case of contact with COVID-19.

Staff must also wash their hands before and after each treatment, and any time they touch something, including doorknobs and light switches, and the medical equipment used on patients.

Because of that, the amount of PPE they're going through is starting to add up and could continue to rise, along with the cost, said Kate Hawkins, who owns the clinic along with husband Mike Belding.

"We're anticipating it's going to cost us about $13,000 over the year at the current level we're using it," she said.

"And we're operating with half our staff, we don't have any of our massage therapists back, we don't have our kinesiologists back and we don't have all of our admin staff. And this is also half capacity of patients."

Massage therapists and kinesiologists don't return until the second phase of the economic relaunch, which is expected in mid-June though no date has been set.

Both those professions are also still waiting for word on requirements around PPE use. One reason for the delay is there is no governing body regulating massage therapy in Alberta. Instead, there are four associations:

  • The National Health Practitioners Association of Canada
  • The Canadian Massage and Manual Osteopathic Therapists Association
  • The Massage Therapists Association of Alberta
  • The Certified Registered Massage Therapists Association

When the requirements are set, massage therapists CTV Calgary spoke with who didn't want to talk on the record said they worry the new rules may be too onerous if they're similar to places like Saskatchewan, which say practitioners must wear a mask, goggles and a face shield, along a gown and gloves while working.