AMTA OR Newsletter Spring 2020

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Editor’s Note:


Aaron Gustafson, LMT, CAMT II, Digital Media Production/Newsletter Editor AMTA-OR

3/23/2020: Governor Kate Brown has prohibited all non-medical massage services by executive order.

-In this Issue: This is not the newsletter we were planning on.  We wanted to tell you all about the wonderful convention we had coming up in April, we wanted to get you excited for elections and enjoy swearing in our new officers with everyone together at convention.  We wanted to tell you about the latest progress from OBMT rather than emergency changes.  But COVID-19 has changed all that and more including our livelihoods!  While I have no doubt that massage will survive and persists for good reason, it’s scary not knowing what that will look like or when we will be able to get back to it. I hope we all remember how important we are and know that our clients would love being in our hands right now.

If you want to get your massage geek on while social distancing, I’ve assembled a playlist of all the Youtube videos from last year’s convention.  Scroll to the bottom of the newsletter or click here to check it out. 

President Mark’s note addresses the evolving changes from COVID-19 and has put together a list of resources for LMT’s seeking guidance and assistance in this tough time.

A changing of the guard and OBMT emergency changes update in the Government Relations Report

Membership #’s Update

Wishing us all health and a speedy return to contributing the work we love to our community.

Take good care,

Aaron Gustafson, Editor

President Mark feeling one of the feels when things don’t go as planned.
Mark Retzlaff & Christina Weber working out hotel snags @ the 2018 national convention in DC.

President’s Note:

Mark Retzlaff LMT, AMTA-OR Chapter President

This is certainly not where I expected to be for my last newsletter article as President. Instead of gearing up for our convention, we’re sharing information about how to cope with a massive disruption to our livelihoods. I know this is a scary time, and I hope that we can be a source of accurate information, helpful resources, and emotional support as we find our way together.

Governor Brown has issued two Executive Orders that impact the practice of massage therapy. Order 20-10 relates to the preservation of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that are in critically short supply. It states that “all elective and non-emergent procedures across all healthcare settings that utilize PPE….shall be cancelled or rescheduled until no earlier than June 15th, 2020.” While this order does not prohibit massage therapy because we do not typically use PPE, it does prohibit us from using the PPE that would be required to safely provide close-contact care during a pandemic.


Executive Order 20-12, issued Monday, March 23rd, explicitly closes “medical spas, facial spas, day spas, and non-medical massage therapy services” until further notice. This order, unfortunately, leaves a lot open to interpretation. What is medical massage? When is massage therapy “medically necessary”? When does that necessity rise to the level of “urgent” or “emergent” care during a time of pandemic? What kind of clinical environment and PPE is required to mitigate the risk of infection? How do you navigate informed consent when there is a risk of infection? Will your liability insurance cover you if one of your clients is exposed at your office? Until we have more clarification, it appears massage therapy may *legally* continue as long as you do not operate in a spa and can justify medical necessity. But frankly, we do not have answers for any of the above questions, and the lack of clarity should concern anyone who is considering continuing to practice massage at this time.

I reached out to Geraldine Randles, Senior Advisor and Instructor of the Oncology Program at the Knight Cancer Institute at OHSU for her advice. OHSU has closed all inpatient, outpatient, pain management, and wellness massage until further notice. Geri was adamant that there are no urgent conditions that massage can treat that justify the risks of infection or the use of scarce PPE. Massage therapy educator Ruth Werner came to a similar unequivocal conclusion in a statement she released last week: “Close your practice.” (Her full article is well-worth reading.)

AMTA Oregon has reached out directly to Governor Brown asking her to remove the “medical massage” exemption due to our concerns about issues raised above. I have also heard from OBMT that they have asked Governor Brown to clarity her order so that they may advise licensees.

UPDATE (March 27th, 2020): On March 26th, OBMT emailed all licensees a document, which among other topics, provided clarification regarding the Governor’s Orders related to “medical massage services”

The intent of that distinction was to separate spas and other massage facilities/practitioners from those who provide massage ordered by a doctor (such as in physical therapy). The “exemption” of medical massage under Executive Order 20-12 is limited to a massage that a physician or someone authorized to prescribe massage in the State of Oregon for medical purposes has recommended to occur for the health of the patient. At this time, LMTs employed by doctors or at medical clinics or facilities, should consult with their employers to determine if they have any questions regarding “medical massage services” and requirements to work, or not work, accordingly. — OBMT Letter, page 3-4.

The way that I am reading this is that until Governor Brown’s Executive Order is lifted, LMTs may ONLY practice massage if it has been recommended by someone with prescribing authority (MD, DO, DC, Nurse Practitioner, etc). The board also clarified that massage therapy is an “elective and a non-emergency procedure,” and so “LMTs have been prohibited from using gloves, masks, or other PPEs since the issuance of Executive Order 20-10.” If your employer is asking you to work without PPE, there is a legitimate concern about workplace safety, since massage therapy is incompatible with social distancing. If that is your situation, you may consider filing a complaint with OHSA and/or the appropriate regulatory board.


I know that many of you have already chosen to close your practices, even before these directives, or your employers have closed your offices. I know this represents a massive disruption in terms of your financial security, and this is a scary and threatening situation to be in. AMTA member Amy Bennett wrote a lovely article describing her decision to close her practice temporarily, and I highly recommend reading that. It’s important to keep in perspective the incredible strain that our health care systems will suffer for the next weeks and months. Reducing the spread of Coronavirus (even if you do not have symptoms) is an important part of “flattening the curve” and making sure there are enough hospital beds and healthcare professionals to treat everyone who gets sick.

There is some help on the way. This morning, we are seeing news that Congress has reached a deal on a $2 trillion aid package that includes relief for small business owners and independent contractors. We do not yet have details on this, but we will continue to track developments and advise you. Likewise, the Oregon Legislature will convene a special legislative session to consider additional economic relief for Oregonians. Now is a good time to write to your state representatives and ask them to support direct economic relief for service-sector workers. You might especially ask them to provide additional support for Independent Contractors and “microbusinesses” who are not covered by unemployment. The AMTA National Government Relations team created this form that will automatically send messages to your Congresspeople.

I have assembled some resources and action items in this Google Doc, and will update this document with additional resources as we learn about them. If you have resources you think we should include, please email

I don’t know what will happen next. I’ve heard some people say they are planning to return to normal within a few weeks, but I think there’s a good chance we will be in this for much longer. Whatever happens, we will find ways to support each other and see this through. As for me, I will be stepping down as President as soon as we can figure out how to hold an online annual meeting, but I will remain on the AMTA Oregon Government Relations team, so I won’t be going far! Serving this community has been an absolute joy, and I’m so grateful for all the growth and connection it has brought into my life. Thank you!

Mark Retzlaff


AMTA Oregon Board Elections: COMING IN THE NEXT TWO WEEKS. Look for an email from AMTA Oregon linking you to the online election hosted by Simply Voting in your inbox soon.




Keep your finger on the pulse of coming board meetings and CE opportunities with our click here: Events Calendar


Important Links:


-Get the Oregon Board of Massage Therapists Boarderline newsletters by clicking here.


Advertising Announcement:

In case you missed it in the last newsletter: We will no longer be publishing advertisements in our newsletters.  Many thanks to all the advertisers that have supported and published with us over the years.  This change is due to a policy revision at the National level.

AMTA-OR Government Relations Report:

Mark is stepping more fully into Government Relations as he transitions from President.

A quick note on personnel change. Julie Crispin has stepped down as Government Relations Chair. And while I am not running for a second term as Chapter President, I will continue to serve on the GR Committee. Thank you so much for all your service and mentorship, Julie. You made such a big difference in the direction of the chapter and in my life!

Onto the update: OBMT held two meetings last week, a regularly scheduled meeting (March 16th) and an Emergency Meeting related to COVID-19 issues (March 20). At the meeting on the 20th, they made a few emergency changes with the intention of easing the burden on licensees. As of this publication, these have not been formally announced, but the following changes were passed by unanimous board vote. The exact policy language will clear up any details that we don’t have yet, but the general changes are as follows:

  • Temporary reduction of Continuing Education requirements to the statutory minimum of 12 hours per renewal period. (The 1 hour Cultural Competency and online pain education module are not suspended. The ethics/communication/boundaries requirement IS suspended.)
  • Temporary elimination of “Contact hour” requirement, enabling all CE courses to be taken in an online format
  • Temporary suspension of license renewal late fees
  • Each of these will be enacted until September 30, 2020, and the board may extend/reduce the time period as conditions warrant.

Many public comments at the meeting related to whether OBMT can/should shut down the practice of massage until the Governor’s social distancing restrictions are lifted. According to the board, they lack the authority to suspend the practice of massage – only the Governor can do that.

This is a fluid situation. In several other states, massage practices have been ordered to close, but some of these states leave open exemptions exist for “medical necessity.” AMTA is maintaining a webpage with an updated list of closures from around the US. Please watch our Facebook page for continuing updates as conditions change. You may also email me at and I will try to help you as best I can.

-Mark Retzlaff

Washington, DC – AMTA 2018 – Julie Crispin receives a Meritorious Award. 2018 AMTA National Convention

We want to give Julie Crispin a huge shout out for all of her hard work as Government Relations Committee Chair – Oregon LMTs would not be nearly as aware or engaged without your efforts. Thank you for your service Julie!!!

Education Chair’s Note:

We’re looking forward to being in the classroom with you as soon as we can!

Gamble, Mark and the rest of the AMTA Oregon volunteers worked their tails off to pull together a wonderful event for April @ East West, only to see it cancelled by coronavirus.  We will be working hard to get this rescheduled, but acknowledge we need to be light on our feet until we have more certainty about the pandemic.  If we can’t offer it later in 2020, we will work to offer it as next year’s convention.

Thank you for your understanding and we miss seeing you all!

Membership Update: Still Growing!

Britney von Trapp, LMT Membership Committee Chair

Happy December everyone! 

Saying strong! We are at 2035 Oregon members as of March 1st, 2020
Thank you all for your membership and have a great Winter!

With appreciation,

Britney von Trapp

Video: Playlist from AMTA OR 2019 convention.  6 videos from Fara Tucker, Cynthia Price,Tara McManaway, Michael Hamm and Tim Irving.

Just hit play and all 6 will run in order.  To skip around, click the little list icon in the upper right corner of the video.

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