Cultural and Minority Affairs

Health Inequities in COVID Times:
Immunocompromised and Immunosuppressed Individuals 

May , 2020 - As Oregon begins to make moves towards returning to more social work, life, and recreation, it is important that we do so while taking care to protect the more vulnerable individuals among us. The Cultural and Minority Affairs Committee will be discussing this topic over the next few months, as our health, safety, and social status unfolds.

This month, we would like to focus on the portion of the U.S. population that lives with an impaired immune system. It is not known precisely what percentage of the population falls into this category, (turns out we do not keep track) but it has been estimated that roughly 3% (2.7%) of the adult population would be classified as immunosuppressed or immunocompromised (Harpaz et al., 2016). For Oregon, that means approximately 102,000 people, not including children and youth (Census, 2019). While there are numerous primary and secondary reasons for immunocompromise; congenital disorders, medications, cancer and transplant treatment, malnourishment, age related immunosenescence, and more (Schall, 2015), the lived outcome is the same, greater susceptibility to infection. As providers who see our patients face to face, in closed environments, and for extended periods of time, it is critical that we, as professionals and as individuals, follow transmission prevention guidelines to ensure our patients and their families can receive care without increased risk to their health, or ours. In practice, the APTA has published best practice guidelines for the Physical Therapy profession, including; hand and wrist hygiene, containing coughs, sneezes, and yourself, if you feel ill, as well as regular cleaning and disinfecting of all tools and surfaces in your work settings (Levine et al., 2020). Working broadly within the healthcare system, physical therapists also have an opportunity to provide meaningful education to patients and their families about risk factors and prevention strategies to protect the health of those that may be compromised, using resources from the APTA and CDC. In our daily lives, the prevailing advice is that limiting our movements through the community can help limit the movement of the COVID-19 virus, restricting its access to those among us who are at a heightened risk and dependent on the health and immunity of those around them.

  • D’Antiga, L. (2020). Coronaviruses and immunosuppressed patients: the facts during the third epidemic. Liver Transplantation.
  • Harpaz, R., Dahl, R., & Dooling, K. (2016, December). The prevalence of immunocompromised adults: United States, 2013. In Open Forum Infectious Diseases (Vol. 3, No. suppl_1). Oxford University Press.
  • Levine, D., Spratt, H., Hanks, J., Woods, C. (2019) Novel Coronavirus: A Wake-up Call for Best Practices in Preventing Pathogen Transmission. APTA #PT Transformations.
  • Schall, T. (2015) How Many Americans are Immunocompromised?. Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics. Retrieved from
  • U.S. Census Bureau. (2019) Quick Facts Oregon. Retrieved from

April 2020

CMA Committee Update
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The CMA Committee continues to actively plan education sessions to be offered through the OPTA this year, as well as a minority student/practitioner survey project. Recently we chose to postpone our spring conference social event in light of COVID-19 social distancing recommendations, but will continue to look for chances to come together as a community for learning opportunities. It is the committee's goal to collaborate with other OPTA committees to continue supporting OPTA efforts and growth.

-Erin Kettler & Talina Marshall Corvus

July 2019

CMA Committee Update
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The OPTA Cultural & Minority Affairs (CMA) committee, started in 2018, officially began meeting toward the end of last year and held their first social event at Portland Center Stage on March 8th, 2019, ahead of OPTA’s spring conference.

The committee also hosted a table at the OPTA Spring Conference. Educational materials related to health disparity outcomes affecting communities of color and the LGBTQ+ community were available. We were pleased to see interest and participation in the committee’s work grow from both the social and tabling events.

The OPTA Cultural & Minority Affairs committee is working to find and build community and assess the wants and needs of minority practitioners in Oregon. We are looking for as much input as we can get from current and future PTs/PTAs. Our desire is to focus on needs and opportunities identified by the committee and the community.

To find us on Facebook, search for OPTA Cultural & Minority Affairs Committee. We encourage all members to follow the page here.


Cultural & Minority Affairs Committee

The OPTA’s Cultural & Minority Affairs (CMA) Committee was established in 2018 with the following goals:

  • Improve involvement from underrepresented minorities at all levels of the profession
  • Improve cultural responsiveness of Oregon PTs, PTAs, and students in practice
  • Improve the profession’s engagement with minority and underserved communities


Who We Are

The committee aims to be a representative coalition of practitioners and students in the state of Oregon who are passionate about minority issues within the profession of physical therapy and its patient populations at the state and national level. The committee’s consideration of minority statuses within the profession aligns with those established by the American Council of Academic Physical Therapy (ACAPT) and includes:

  • Racial, ethnic, and cultural minorities
  • Sexual orientation and gender identity minorities
  • Nationality and immigrant status minorities
  • Individuals living with disabilities

  What We Do

The Cultural & Minority Affairs Committee is committed to building professional community and facilitating support and mentorship among current and aspiring PTs and PTAs. The committee is dedicated to creating community outreach opportunities and relationships across the state of Oregon to increase awareness and service of the profession to under-served communities. Lastly, this committee has committed itself the ongoing education of ourselves and our professional community through the development of continuing education events and workshops, as well as state and national conference presentations.

How We Engage

Loving Teachers. Gracious Learners.

The Cultural & Minority Affairs Committee believes that addressing diversity and minority issues requires all parties to approach this work with a willingness to listen, learn, and teach. We have the responsibility to be curious about the needs and positions of others, and to engage in respectful but daring dialogue.

Join Us

Committee meets 4 times each year (Jan/Apr/Aug/Nov). See OPTA Calendar for dates and times.