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The Dilemma: Delivering a needed dose of relief to the veterinary community

dvm360dvm360 November 2021
Volume 52

A practice weighs its options for the best way to spend surplus income for the betterment of animal lives.

vectorfusionart / stock.adobe.com

vectorfusionart / stock.adobe.com

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the lives of everyone, and the veterinary profession is no exception. Masking, curbside care, anxiety, and vaccine adherence have wreaked havoc on the profession. One facet of the viral invasion unique to the profession was an increase in pet ownership because of the mandated lifestyle change of a pandemic society. This has resulted in a significant increase in practice incomes.

The Hopson Animal Hospital felt that despite the pandemic restrictions and stress on their practice, some of their monetary good fortune should be used to assist the animals they serve. The clinic administration—with input from the hospital staff—set out to see how they could lighten the economic and emotional fallout of COVID-19 for their clientele.

A clinic staff meeting was convened to address the subject. How could the Hopson animal hospital assist pandemic-impacted pets and clients in need? The hospital director told staff that due to increased client services and government assistance efforts, the clinic was in the position to assist certain clients in need. But what should this assistance look like? It was suggested that help be given to clients that requested aid caused by pandemic hardships. That was countered by the comment that many clients in need may not be comfortable initiating such a request. It was then suggested that the client intake questionnaire include a query asking if the pandemic has significantly affected job status or current income. If the answer was “yes,” a predetermined discount could be applied to those invoices.

Another staff member suggested that nonprofit shelters, adoption agencies, spay and neuter facilities, and pet community outreach organizations could receive a donation from the clinic to assist the animals they are helping. This way, a specific budget could be established to assist these organizations in need. She went on to say that assisting clients that state they need assistance could be overwhelming, and the clinic may not have the funds to meet all of the client needs. This could then end up making things inequitable.

Finally, there was a suggestion by a dissenter in the group. This staff member felt the increased monetary good fortune of the clinic should be used to enhance clinic equipment and resources that could better serve the medical needs of the patients including staff continuing education and facility upgrades. He went on to suggest that it would also be a much-needed morale booster at a difficult time.

The hospital director now had a decision to make. Should efforts be made to assist pandemic-affected indigent clients? Should additional assistance go to local shelters and nonprofits dealing with medical and staff related issues? Or should more of the enhanced budget be directed internally to increase the capabilities of the Hopson Animal Hospital?

After much consideration it was determined that additional resources would be directed to care for animals housed in nonprofit shelters. This aligned most closely with the clinic's mission statement to help pets in need through progressive medicine and compassionate care.

I guess this would technically have to be called a champagne dilemma. Nevertheless, after the stress and heartache of this pandemic, charitably helping pets is an important part of the healing process.

Dr Rosenberg's response

The entire staff of the Hospon Animal Hospital participated in the process of designating charitable efforts to pets in need. This effort should not be taken lightly. After masking the entire workday, worrying about family health and school schedules, this feel-good gesture is a godsend. While the profession remains in a pandemic battle, every victory contributes to the health and well-being of our colleagues. This charitable effort by the Hopson Animal Hospital as well as similar efforts from around the country will bring immeasurable relief to pets, clients, and veterinary health care workers.

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