COVID-19: Safety hacks for your veterinary practice

October 2, 2020
dvm360 Staff

When push comes to shove, as it has with COVID-19, the veterinary profession plows ahead, identifying innovative ways to get the job done while forging ever-stronger bonds with clients.

The novel coronavirus has showcased the immense creativity among veterinary professionals across the country. When Nationwide® put out a call for practices to share the innovative ways they’ve adjusted to address social distancing, sanitation protocols, and more, the pet insurance provider was inundated with workarounds practices are using to keep their businesses up and running during the pandemic. Here are some of the hacks people shared.

Sanitizing solution

Keeping a bucket of bleach and heavy-duty rubber gloves in a central location makes it easy to sanitize exam rooms between appointments.

Elaina Starman, DVM
Larkspur Pet Hospital
Larkspur, CO

Barrier protection

Cut and hang a medium-weight, see-through plastic shower curtain(s) to fit the length of your reception area, creating a barrier between clients and employees during in-person transactions. We created a small gap at the bottom of ours to prevent curtain movement caused by pressure from the front doors opening and closing.

Kalyn Smith
Landmark Animal Clinic

Goldsboro, NC

No-contact discharge

For a safe, no-contact canine discharge protocol, attach a carabiner to each end of a practice leash. Then attach one of the carabiners to the practice’s front-door handle and the other to the dog’s collar (not its leash). Send the dog into the vestibule while holding onto the door. The owner can then grab the dog’s leash, remove the carabiner from the dog’s collar, and take their pet home. To watch this tip in action, click here.

Valerie Wright
Oxford Animal Hospital
Overland Park, KS

Pickup, please

We’re fortunate to have a window behind our reception desk. Since we've shut down our office to clients, we’re able to proceed with curbside appointments and scheduled pickup times for prepaid medication refills and foods. Both scheduling the pickup times and prepaying help with parking lot flow and social distancing between staff and clients.

Brie Richardson
North East Animal Hospital
North East, PA

Outdoor check-in

At our outdoor check-in area, arriving clients are given a handout about relevant procedures, asked if they would like a water bottle or toy for their dog (while supplies last), and then directed to park in an assigned numbered parking spot. The check-in person radios the team to inform them which spot number their patient is in, and someone comes out and collects the pet. It’s seamless for us and puts a smile on our clients’ faces during a stressful time.

Erin Puglisi
Meriden Animal Hospital
Meriden, CT

Planting the seed

We pride ourselves on our front bed plantings and flowerpots. When our governor issued an executive order requiring face masks to be worn inside businesses, we placed signs on our doors, in our lobby, and in our exam rooms and received about 50% compliance. To improve compliance, we had a local sign maker create a nice sign to fit in the flowerpot right beside our front door. Now we see clients reading the sign and heading back to their cars to fetch their face mask. Compliance is now about 98%.

Karen Wilson
Blackstone Animal Clinic
Blackstone, VA

Safety sewn up

At the beginning of the pandemic when masks were backordered, we realized that we might not receive new masks for some time. Using directions from the internet, I started sewing them from semi-impermeable drape material used for wrapping surgery packs. The drape material provides a better barrier than plain cotton, and appears to be washable and reusable. Now that the PPE supply is less critical, we use the homemade masks for "social" work (meeting the local mask mandate for businesses) and reserve surgical masks for surgery. However, should the PPE supply dwindle again, I am confident we can continue doing surgery with no worries.

Andrew Smith, DVM
East Ridge Animal Hospital
East Ridge, TN