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Veterinary practices are currently dealing with executive orders regarding scope of practice, supply shortages, and absenteeism resulting from the world-wide outbreak of COVID-19. Surgical masks, IV fluids, and other essential practice items are being diverted to human health care. There are some additional talking points that should be considered as COVID-19 forces unanticipated changes in the way we are currently practicing veterinary medicine.
How do we deal with sanitation concerns in the veterinary hospital? Hand washing, for an appropriate length of time, with soap, is an excellent way for team members to prevent the spread of many bacterial and viral diseases, including COVID-19. Mandatory hand washing policies for staff need to be instituted if not already in place. The Environmental Protection Agency has released a list of disinfectants that are approved for use against COVID-19. Many practices are now offering “curbside care” and only allowing team members inside the building. The CDC is currently recommending home made masks during times when social distancing is not possible. All veterinary team members recognize that veterinary medicine cannot be practiced with social distancing parameters in place.
How do we help inform our clients and communities that novel corona virus does not appear to be transmitted from pets to people? At this time, the CDC has stated that there is NO evidence that companion animals can spread COVID-19 to people. This information can be disseminated verbally, through email, social media channels, and your practice’s website. If your clients are ill with COVID-19, recommend that they have another household member care for their pets during that time. Again, frequent handwashing before and after pet care is strongly encouraged.
How do we stay connected to our clients if they are unable to physically come into the practice? All veterinarians have had clients that have transportation or mobility concerns that prevent them from physically being able to come into the practice. Mobile practices circumvent this issue entirely, but what about our brick and mortar hospitals? This is the time to consider using telemedicine and teletriage to assist your clients and patients. Providing teletriage services after hours gives your clients the ability to connect with your practice when it is most convenient for them.
How do we assist our patients if they are not able to be seen in real time? Establishing a VCPR allows flexibility in the way that we provide care to our patients. Telemedicine, when done with a valid VCPR in place, can be a wonderful way to help our patients when they cannot be seen at the practice. Imagine how convenient it would be for your clients if you had the ability to video conference/text/chat with them and then have that information relayed directly into that patient’s medical record. Imagine the satisfaction of being able to directly charge your clients for that service and convenience. You no longer have to imagine it, it is here.