IF YOU DON’T READ ANYTHING ELSE, PLEASE AT LEAST READ THESE POINTERS:
Please stay in your car. Please keep your dog leash.
Use carriers for small pets.
Please fill out the exam history form prior to arrival (found on this website in a tab above) to save our nursing staff from the blistering Florida heat.
Please wear a mask yourself when interacting with our staff. Be sure to wear the mask properly so that it covers your nose and mouth.
Call when you arrive.
We will chat over the phone then a nurse will come get your sweetie. We will get your pet from the car if it is in a carrier. If your pet is on a leash we will instruct you when to come to the table outside.
Please let us know if you have had exposure to Covid19.
On March 19th, we instituted "Curbside Care". (The picture here was on our first day of curbside care on March 19th---We then added facial shields and surgery caps and now maintain social distance even inside our clinic as much as possible! That's Nurse Dori on the left and Nurse Jane on the right.)
So, just what is "Curbside Care"?
All of the TVC staff will be wearing a mask and we request that clients also wear masks when interacting with us. Clients stay in the parking lot, typically in their cars so they can stay cool in their air conditioning of the car. For clients who must leave their car, we maintain 6 feet social distancing. Clients must wear a mask when we interact.
We will require clients to wear masks once they are allowed back into the clinic. We do not know when this will be but likely when we've a vaccine for Covid19 available. Why so long? Because we can contain potential contamination better when only our trained staff is within our clinic! Between our doctors and nurses combined we have over a hundred years of experience with decontamination of contagious disease. We are treating everyone we meet as we would treat a dog patient who has parvo. We are used to bleach foot baths and disinfection techniques that few laypeople have experienced. I mean to tell you, we have dishpan hands! We have always been rather type A about a clean hospital, but the nursing staff has escalated our efforts to disinfect everything!
If you need recurrent medication or pet food, rather than come into the clinic we can set you up with online delivery through our website. It will be delivered to your home. The staff can easily make you an account as Vets First Choice / Covetrus syncs with our veterinary software. You click on the email sent to you by Vets First Choice / Covetrus, tell them how you wish to pay and it is delivered to your front door. Easy. Please do NOT over run my staff with requests from Chewy. Those Chewy requests means Heather and Lyndsey need to print it, have a doctor sign it and scan it then email it back. I’m so over Chewy requests! Help us stay afloat in this scary financial time by using the pharmacy on our website instead of forcing me to pay my staff for busy work. If my staff gets ill (despite our rigid disinfection protocols and otherwise sheltering at home), I cannot authorize those Chewy nor Pet Meds scripts from home. If you use our website pharmacy, I can authorize those requests from my home. I have instructed the staff to do their best to convince clients to convert prescription requests from other online pharmacies to OUR online pharmacy so save my staff unnecessary busy work and so we can authorize requests remotely if needed. Until Covid19 I really only had our online pharmacy for the convenience of our snowbird clients or for pet food sales. Now we actually need it to keep our seniors and immunocompromised clients safe and in their homes until we have beat this virus.
Please notify us if you have had any exposure to a Covid19 patient! If at all possible we will try a telemedicine appointment. If the appointment mandates an examination in the clinic, we will still see your pet, but we will wipe your pet down with activated hydrogen peroxide. (Not to worry, I've been using activated hydrogen peroxide wipes in my gym bag for years---It's non-toxic and many a time I've wiped my own face with it.) Activated hydrogen peroxide is NOT regular hydrogen peroxide.
You will keep your dog's leash or harness. We prefer that small dogs and cats come in pet carriers. PLEASE STAY IN YOUR CAR.
Our reception staff will call you for payment over the phone (with a credit or debit card) when we’ve finished the exam. We are trying to avoid cash as it could carry Covid19.
Please, stay at home unless your career is "essential" for our society to function. We are all responsible for each other's safety. We are in this together. We are responsible for everyone's health, particularly our beloved seniors. If we didn’t love your pets, we’d be at home, too! We see veterinary medical care as essential. We are the first line of defense in the extremely unlikely event that this becomes an issue for pets. PLEASE DO NOT FEAR your pets! Of the hundreds of thousands of humans with this disease worldwide, it appears to be highly improbable that your pet is any risk to you!! The virus can only live on a pet's fur for 6 to 12 hours per the AVMA because their fur is a porous surface. The AVMA is looking into such concerns. It only makes sense that you shouldn't have strangers pet your dog when you go for a walk. If YOU test positive, please practice social distancing with your pet just as you would a human. Of all the cases of Covid in humans, there have been very few documented cases of Covid in dogs and cats. We don't treat ferrets at TVC, but they are a species who could contract Covid19, so if you become ill with Covid19 please socially distance from your ferret until you are better.
How will we allow clients back in the building?
We have lots to consider as we contemplate re-opening our doors to clients... From AAHA NEWStat, Updated Sept 5, 2020
Lots of hospitals are eager to open their doors and let clients come in from the curb, but aren’t sure how to do it safely. Many are taking to social media to ask for tips from other hospitals.
Most of those tips are valid—hand sanitizer stations in every room, a mask mandate, taking the temperature of everyone who comes through the door—but it’s also clear that nobody’s quite sure what to do, and everyone seems to be operating by the seat of their pants.
So NEWStat wanted to see whether anyone was working on a rigorous, science-based, step-by-step plan on how and when to safely reopen veterinary hospitals to clients.
Our first stop was J. Scott Weese, DVM, DVSc, DACVIM, a contributing reviewer of the 2018 AAHA Infection Control, Prevention, and Biosecurity Guidelines. Weese has prepared a series of in-depth guides on how to safely reopen a veterinary hospital prepared on behalf of the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association. All are available on his Worms & Germs COVID-19 Veterinary Resources page.
Nevertheless, he wasn’t encouraging.
“There aren’t any step-by-step guides . . . because there’s not a single-step approach to reopening,” he said. “What to do depends on many factors, such as [the number of COVID cases] in the area, hospital layout, risk tolerance, risk status of people in the hospital, ability to implement changes, and things like that.” He says what is available is more of a menu of options that hospitals need to choose from versus a standard plan.
Weese pointed NEWStat to his latest guidance, which “goes over various options, approaches, and control measures. That’s the closest thing to what you’re looking for that I know about.”
Christine Petersen, DVM, PhD, director of the Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases at the University of Iowa suggested some additional resources that veterinary hospitals planning to admit clients might find useful: “There are some general materials that have been put together for reopening different types of businesses, and the US Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention (CDC) put out some specific guidance on personal protective equipment [PPE] and helping with veterinary staffing during COVID.”
Peterson also recommends the American Industrial Hygienists Association’s (AIHA) Back to Work Safely website: “They don’t address veterinary hospitals specifically, but do have guidelines for dental offices and general office space that would be useful to consider in the veterinary setting.”
Meghan Davis, DVM, MPH PhD, an associate professor in the Department of Environmental Health and Engineering at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health seconds Peterson’s suggestions to look to the CDC and AIHA for guidance. And, like Weese, she’s unaware of any ongoing research that specifically addresses the reopening of veterinary hospitals.
But Davis does believe that consideration of engineering and administrative controls—in addition to consistent and proper use of PPE—is essential to the successful reopening of hospitals to clients. To that end, she recommends that hospitals consult the Hierarchy of Controls figure adapted from the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in this article by two of her colleagues. “What this means is changing work practices [such as] distancing [and] workflow protocols—as well as using physical barriers to prevent the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.”
Davis says administrative controls can include one-way movement of people to ensure physical distancing, such as the use of dedicated entrance and exit doors. She also advocates a strategy for multidoctor practices that assigns staff to shift “pods,” where the same veterinarians, technicians, administrative support team, kennel staff, and other workers are assigned the same shifts together, with no crossover and with good disinfection protocols between shifts.
“This way, if one person tests positive, then it will only be the one pod that has to isolate/quarantine and the practice can continue to provide service with the other pod or pods of employees,” she says, and notes that her research lab at Johns Hopkins is currently using this strategy.
“Inside a veterinary hospital, density (number of people per square feet) in relation to ventilation is important to consider,” Davis says. That means limiting the number of clients in a room with the veterinarian as well as the total number of people in smaller exam rooms. And if, for any reason, staff can’t avoid being in close contact with clients in a small room, she recommends they wear goggles or face shields in addition to N95 or similar respirators. “Related to this, there’s also a useful PPE burn rate calculator (including a mobile app version) from CDC/NIOSH that veterinary hospitals may find useful to estimate their ordering needs for PPE.”
Davis cautions that these suggestions may not work for all hospitals: “It may be that [some practices’] buildings are not conducive to engineering or administrative controls, and those practices will have to make decisions about whether they should remain curbside.”
Some hospitals may also choose to remain curbside based on how much COVID-19 is circulating in their community, Davis adds, and only move to reopen when incidence rates have declined in their area.
Davis says her last piece of advice as an infectious disease epidemiologist is for practice leadership and teams to treat the pandemic as a marathon, not a sprint. “There’s still a lot we don’t know about this virus,” she says.
Even if researchers come up with an effective vaccine this fall, Davis says approval, deployment, and penetration into communities is going to take some time: “It’s possible that mitigation measures will have to continue for more than a year.”
A cat-owning client tested positive for COVID. What do you tell them?
Dr Scott Weese (a veterinarian at the University of Ontario) has a Worms and Germs blog. This infectious disease guru has very up to date information on Covid19 and dogs and cats! He has written that ferrets can potentially get sick from Covid19. Of the hundreds of thousands of ill humans, 2 dogs in China and 1 cat in Belgium (whose owner visited Italy) have colonized with Covid19. NONE OF THESE PETS ACTED ILL FROM THE COVID19. Do not fear your pets but if you contract Covid19 please socially distance yourself from your pets just as you would from humans. There was also a tiger in the Bronx zoo who tested positive. There will no doubt be papers forthcoming, and Dr Weese' worms and germs blog below is fantastic:
A good summary from Dr Weese is as follows:
The take home messages remain the same:
- If you’re sick, stay away from animals.
- Keep your animals away from other people or animals. Social distancing applies to the whole household, not just the human members.
- Your own pet poses virtually no risk to you. If my cat is infected, he got it from me (in which case I’m already infected) or my family (who pose a much greater risk of transmission to me than the cat). If we keep pets with us but socially distanced from others, we don’t need to worry about them as sources of infection outside of the household.
World Health Organization (WHO)
World Small Animal Veterinary Association
AAHA Covid19 updates:
AAHA practice tips from AAHA members:
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
The World Health Organization:
United States Department of Agriculture FAQ on companion animal testing:
University of Florida:
Other info you may find helpful below...
FVMA Operating Protocols During COVID-19 - March 24, 2020
With the COVID-19 crisis growing, many practices have changed the way they operate. In an effort to help disseminate useful information to our members, we've complied protocols that your practice may want to consider implementing, if you have not done so already. These protocols are meant to serve as a template so that you can pick and choose ideas that will work for you — or that can be adapted to your particular operation. We hope these strategies will help you, your staff and your clients stay as safe as possible during this stressful time.
Prioritize appointments. Some practices now prioritize urgent and sick-pet visits over wellness visits—young animal vaccination schedules not included. Veterinarians should keep in mind Executive Order 20-72, issued by Governor Ron DeSantis on March 20, 2020 that directs all medically unnecessary, non-urgent or non-emergency procedures or surgeries be delayed. While the governor’s order does not specify veterinary medicine, the FVMA recommends that veterinarians defer elective procedures, that in their judgement are not necessary, to help reduce human-to-human contact and conserve PPE.
Communicate new protocol to clients. Many practices are shifting to a curbside model where:
*Clients call from the parking lot on arrival *Team members shuttle pets to the facility and back *Clients stay in their cars *Conversations happen by phone as needed
When making this shift: *Explain the change when appointments are made *Email all clients about the process *Post on social media about the change *Reiterate the changes to the clients when they arrive *Share how the new protocol is working and any adjustments that have been made on social media to keep your clients up-to-date
Set appropriate exceptions to new protocols that work for you. Consider new euthanasia protocols and offer exceptions (critical cases, young animals, or patients with special needs).
When handling deliveries and lab samples, consider:
*Having deliveries left outside
*Wearing gloves to carry and unpack boxes
*Putting all lab samples in outside pick-up boxes, so that drivers don’t have to come inside
Adjust hours of operation.Shortening hours of operation can allow for additional sanitizing time. In these particularly difficult times, it could also help prevent burnout.
In addition to new operating protocols, it is important to do the following:
*Practice good hygiene. Review CDC guidelines.