With so much information at our fingertips with COVID-19, we wanted to share new procedures we are doing today (though these may change tomorrow) to help protect our staff, clients, and community. Here at DoveLewis, we are being transparent with our staff and clients about implementing measures for social distancing precautions, as well as what clients should plan for with the health and safety of their pets. No matter where you are, it is important for everyone to be in communication about policy and safety changes.
Client Resource: Planning for a Pet Emergency
- Emergency care contact: If your clients are concerned about their health but their pet needs medical care, let your clients know to call your clinic so you are made aware of the situation and can decide if you want to coordinate alternative check-in processes for these situations. Another option is for clients to designate a friend or family member to care for their pets. Currently, DoveLewis’ medical team is updating pet owners on their pet’s condition and getting consent on treatment options over the phone, or they can provide a signed document designating that person with the authority to make medical and financial decisions on their behalf.
- Veterinary availability: As businesses are impacted by social distancing and recommendations for people to stay home to reduce the spread of COVID-19, clinics should keep the public updated on their current hours so clients can stay updated on the resources available to them if a trip to the vet is needed.
- Pet Food and Medication: For the health and wellbeing of our pets, share with any concerned pet owner to evaluate their current stock of pet food and medication in case they are unable to leave their house, or their local pet food store or clinic adjusts its hours.
- Home environment: We are all adjusting to the changes in our schedules, animals included! An altered schedule at home can cause stress to manifest in a variety of ways, including vomiting and gastrointestinal issues. To help ease this transition, pet owners can create a “safe, quiet zone” for their pets where they can relax.
- Identification: With these changes in their pet’s routine, there may be additional stress and increase the risk of flight. Pet owners can keep pets safe by making sure tags and microchips are up to date as we all adjust to this situation.
- Stay up-to-date: According to the CDC, there is no current reason to believe that pets will become ill or spread COVID-19, but it’s important to stay up-to-date on recent findings for the sake of people and pets both.
Precautions for Your Clinic:
- Consider limiting inpatient visitation: In order to help limit the number of humans in a practice at any given time, consider telling clients that they will not be permitted to visit their pets on the floor. Exceptions to this rule are at the discretion of the DVMs in the case of euthanasia or extremely critical patients. This rule is particularly hard on clients, so have a plan in place to offer photos or videos to help comfort them about their pet’s wellbeing.
- Dispersing waiting clients: After triage, offer clients the option to wait in their cars or elsewhere outside the building with their pets until they are summoned via phone call to return to the waiting room. This can be entirely voluntary so clients feel they have another option while waiting. Contact information can be confirmed with front desk staff prior to exiting the building. Ask clients to stay in close vicinity of your practice, and not to go to restaurants or run errands until after they have spoken to the DVM.
- Limiting specialty appointments: Patients needing specialty care often need to be seen in a timely manner, however, some appointments are less time-sensitive. Consider delaying and potentially rescheduling what departments deem as routine, “safe to wait” appointments. The criteria for this will vary greatly depending on the specialty department. It is important to work with your CSRs to provide further direction on scheduling or rescheduling appointments at this time.
- Supply shortages: The increase in the general public buying surgical face masks has resulted in mask shortages. Contact your suppliers to ensure you are on allocation for receiving any future shipments of facemasks. Have your surgeons limit the number of people in the OR to help limit facemask use. If employees need to use a surgical facemask, have them use that facemask for the entire day and label it with their name. Do not discard it - keep it for potential re-use. At DoveLewis, we are not yet at the point but may get to there soon depending on the situation where disposable facemasks need to be reused. This is a safer option for our patients than reusable alternatives. If you are interested in more details, find out more here. Your clinic may only have a limited amount of hand sanitizer and more cannot be obtained in a reasonable time period. Consider producing your own based on WHO guidelines. Remember to remind staff and clients that hand washing is more effective than applying hand sanitizer, and to use sanitizer only when necessary.
Depending on your clinic, routine cleaning solutions can be effective against COVID-19 (as well as most other viruses and bacteria). For example, we are using some of the resources we have available at DoveLewis including:
- Parvocidal and can be used on all hospital surfaces (floors, counters, walls, etc.)
- Should not be used in a spray bottle
- Parvocidal and can be used on all surfaces except the floors (it leaves a bit of a slippery film)
- This should be used on most countertops and the vinyl benches in the lobby
- Used to wipe down iPads or other computer surfaces. They can help sanitize the surfaces without damaging the iPad or computer
This a stressful time and we want to thank all of you for continuing to do the difficult and important work we do every day. We hope everyone is taking the necessary precautions to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and stay healthy.