Medical Spas: Open for Business

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

Medical spas have reopened with plenty of precautions and changes. A few area medical spas weighed in on how things are going at their locations.

Chelsie Bates, spa manager for CNY Healing Arts in Syracuse, said that the spa is back to offering all its services with just a few exceptions. The reopening began at the beginning of May with acupuncture and 30- to 60-minute massages. In early October, skincare services returned. Hot stone massage, couple’s massage and specialty massage are still not available as of mid-October.

Depending upon the type of treatments offered, area spas have been reopening over the summer as permitted — and as they are able to adjust how they do business to comply with state regulations.

“All our amenities like locker rooms, hot tubs and relaxation rooms are still closed; we can’t keep people six feet apart in these areas,” Bates said. “They now have to go right to the massage or acupuncture room.”

That is a departure from the typical spa experience, where clients can spend time unwinding in the steam shower, sauna and other areas before and after a treatment.

When you visit a spa next, expect to make an appointment. Do not assume you can get an appointment at the same time as a friend; many spas are staggering appointments to allow fewer in the facility at a time and to permit enough time to disinfect surfaces. The staff will ask a few questions about your health and if you have traveled recently.

You will likely have your temperature taken upon arrival, use hand sanitizer and answer a few more questions. Do not bring anyone else with you. If the waiting area is open, the décor will likely be different than before with social distancing markers on the floor, Plexiglas shielding the receptionist and, so it is easier to keep the area clean, fewer soft surfaces. Like many other businesses, it is likely high-touch amenities like beverage centers will be gone. Testers are also a thing of the past. Electronic payments are preferred.

The staff and providers will be wearing masks and you should, too. If your service requires you to remove your mask, remove it when asked. Your provider will likely wear a face shield and gown.

The service area and protocols will likely be different, too.

For example, only one or two people at a time are permitted inside CNY Healing Arts at a time to allow for social distancing.

Because these measures are meant to thin the crowds, Bates said that as far as the number of patrons at CNY Healing Arts returning to normal, “we’re not completely there yet because we can’t have the therapists we had on before. We have five instead of 10 because we’re only at 50% capacity because we have only 10 rooms.”

There’s also the factor of clients feeling inhibited about safety. “Business was a little slow in the beginning as they weren’t sure of the protocols,” Bates said. “We assured them when scheduling that we’re following the proper procedures for sanitizing.”

Instead of the previous 15 minutes of cleaning between appointments, the spa now performs 30 minutes of deep cleaning to ensure all touched surfaces are disinfected and that the cleaning procedure is documented.

Helendale Dermatology & Medical Spa in Rochester reopened for dermatology May 18 with similar precautions as and other spas. The medical spa reopened Sept. 14.

Though Helendale is fully open, “capacity isn’t quite up to 100%,” said Trish Hohman, practice administrator.

Apparently, it will take more time for people to feel that the precautions in place will reduce the risk to a comfortable level.

“It’s still just as important to take care of yourself as before COVID,” Bates said. “Our therapists are giving the same quality of work they’ve always given.”