COVID-19: Our Clinic Protocols Have Changed.

By March 20, 2020 October 26th, 2020 Pet Health

*New* Cabbagetown Pet Clinic policy’s are now in place.

Well, here we are.

With the onset and continuing spread of Covid-19, we are collectively – personally and professionally – taking ever-extreme measures in an attempt to combat the looming menace that this pandemic brings.

It is NOT business as usual. 

As of this writing, the Cabbagetown Pet Clinic is OPEN (with hours restrictions), but not without new protocols being implemented to try “flatten the curve” and slow the coronavirus spread.

Most veterinary clinics and emergency animal hospitals will attempt to remain open (until they’re not) given their importance to your pets health. These services include emergency surgeries, the purchase of therapeutic pet food and prescriptions that are crucial in keeping our beloved furry family members healthy and safe. 

At the same time, we implicitly understand our social responsibility to our clients and the Cabbagetown community, as well as the need to protect our Cabbagetown Pet Clinic team.

Social Distancing

I’m sure everyone at this point has become aware of Social Distancing #stopthespread. This is the practice of keeping a 2m (6 ft.) distance between one another. This is absolutely THE best method that everyone MUST practice (along with regular handwashing) to limit the spread of Covid-19. We are adapting to this new paradigm by reducing the number of direct and indirect human-human contact points in our clinic.

But…

How can we maintain effective social distancing and still operate our clinic with minimal disruption? We must admit, it’s a huge challenge but one that we’re fully embracing.

What new clinic protocols have you implemented?

  • Increasing our already high standards of routine environmental cleaning*. All common surfaces are disinfected frequently. This includes door handles, countertops, payment terminals (between every transaction), telephones, reception desk and any other area that has seen contact between clients and staff. Between appointments, we have allocated time to clean and disinfect doors, chairs, dog scales and floors in the exam rooms.
  • Clients are NOT permitted in the clinic. We have a procedure in place to take your pet and perform exams without you entering the hospital. 
  • Staff will continue to practice good hand hygiene as per the World Health Organization guidelines.
  • Staff hours (and appointment scheduling) have been reduced to decrease the potential for spread.
  • We have posted a sign on our entrance advising our clients that if they are showing any signs of illness to remain outside and call the clinic. Clients will also be asked about their recent travel history and current health status upon scheduling appointments.
  • Debit terminal payments – we wipe down the terminal between EVERY transaction. We would like to reduce the use of the terminal (and cash) if possible to help with our social-distancing efforts.

Additional procedures may be required, and we continue to explore all options available to keep the doors open. The Cabbagetown Pet Clinic will take ALL precautions necessary to ensure that pets get the treatment they need.

How will my pet’s appointment be affected?

**UPDATE** 08/31/2020 As the initial curve has been flattened, we are now able to move forward with spays, neuters and all elective surgeries, including preventative dental procedures. We also are providing laboratory testing, imaging and full preventative/wellness care plans. 

The latest updates and the Top 10 COVID-19 Q&A’s can be found here.

Any appointments that are currently scheduled will NOT be cancelled unless otherwise contacted.

Appointment times have been staggered to help decrease overlap and congestion in the clinic.

When scheduling appointments, we are obligated to ask our clients about their recent travel history, and if they are showing any signs of illness or symptoms of COVID-19.

Under certain circumstances, we will be asking clients to fill out an enhanced appointment questionnaire prior to their arrival at the clinic, so that our staff can get a jump in diagnosing your pet’s issues. This will reduce your time spent in the clinic and is part of our social distancing protocol.

Handling procedures during your pet’s examination have been adjusted in order to comply with our social distancing procedures whenever possible.

Can I still purchase food and/or medication refills?

Absolutely, we are still open for those wishing to pick up food and medication at the clinic. However, we are requesting that you call ahead of time to process your payment over the phone, in an effort to reduce your time spent here.

To date, our suppliers are still delivering, albeit on a less frequent basis. Should circumstances change, we will communicate with all of our clients to keep them up-to-date on availability.  

Surfaces as a Source of Covid-19?

*With respect to potential spreading from non-human sources – surfaces – a lot is still unknown on the stability of SARS-CoV-2 over time. However, there has been a recent study documented in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study – found here – indicates that it’s plausible.

“Our results indicate that aerosol and fomite transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is plausible, since the virus can remain viable and infectious in aerosols for hours and on surfaces up to days (depending on the inoculum shed).”

We don’t know for sure whether non-human to human (surface) contact is an issue, but we should assume that it is until proven otherwise.

How is this related to your pet?

It presupposes that pets could be categorized as an environmental source. We should assume that the SARS-CoV-2 virus deposited on a pet’s fur by an infected owner could survive – at minimum – for a few hours. Perhaps the best way to avoid this possible transmission source is to not cuddle, kiss, sneeze around, or even stroke someone else’s pet.

Social distancing !

Can your pet contract Covid-19 from an infected owner? It’s looking increasingly likely, as another dog in Hong Kong has tested positive for the virus from their infected owner.

We’re extremely thankful that our clients have been very patient and understanding with the new protocols we’ve put in place. Given the situation we’re currently under, these necessary changes will help minimize disruption in our clinic routine, as long as everyone continues to work together.

We are attempting to do as many simple, practical and minimally disruptive measures as we can to reduce transmission risk.

In the event this crisis escalates, we will not hesitate to add more preventative measures to our clinic protocols in an effort to keep our doors open and, more importantly, keep clients, pets and our Cabbagetown team safe. Reasons for further controls include limitations in supplies (already an issue), staff (sickness or self-isolation) or intervention (municipal order) beyond control of the clinic.

In the meantime…

Be kind, check-in on friends, stay safe, keep your social distance and wash you hands!

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