How to reduce the risk of COVID-19 at your veterinary clinic | VETgirl Veterinary Continuing Education Videos
In today’s VETgirl online veterinary continuing education video, we discuss how to help reduce the risk of COVID-19 at your veterinary clinic. What are the best ways for us to protect our pet owners, our staff, and ourselves? Depending on what state you live in, the veterinary profession is considered essential. Take these 10 steps at your veterinary clinic to reduce the risk, shed, spread of COVID-19.
First, change to curbside service, and make sure your pet owners are well aware of this prior to arrival. Get as much pet owner and patient information, presenting complaint, and history via the phone prior to arrival. Make sure your staff minimize direct contact with the pet owner, fomites (e.g., leashes, carriers, etc.) as much as possible. Use proper precautions to ensure that animal escape does not occur.
Second, make sure everyone is wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) when handling patients, and when performing curbside patient drop offs. PPE includes shoe coverings, gowns, gloves, masks, and eye protection/face shield, as available.
Third, make sure all communication with pet owners is done by phone communication (or other modalities such as Zoom, Skype, text, etc.). Avoid direct face-to-face client interactions. With recorded phone calls, verbal authorization can be adequate for consent to treat.
Forth, reduce fomites. Do not allow any client leashes or bedding, which can serve as vehicles of transmission. Instead, use a new clinic leash each time and your own laundered towels and bedding.
Fifth, disinfect frequently. Thankfully, as an enveloped virus, COVID-19 is easy to kill provided the all biological fluid/material is wiped away and the disinfectant is used correctly and for the appropriate period of time. Disinfect workstation, telephones, counters, and community-used devices several times daily. Make sure to use appropriate disinfectants labeled for computer screens, iPads, etc.
Sixth, maintain social distancing with posted reminders and tape on the floor (e.g., six-feet measured out). The current recommendation is 6 feet. During attended euthanasias, tape markers on the floor help remind clients to mind their space and use two extension sets (and a large saline flush) to ensure adequate space from the client.
Seventh, make sure to only use drink bottles that have lids or caps. Hydration and food are important, but it is imperative to reduce hand-to-mouth contamination. No food/shared snacks, etc. also.
Eight, set up convenient sanitation stations with spray bottles, towels, and hand sanitizer. Remember, if it’s not conveniently located, it won’t be used. If you find yourself short on supplies, make sure people are using paper towels or clean rags to spray the disinfectant directly on the towel/rag and wipe to disinfect appropriately.
Ninth, post reminders to ensure adequate hand washing is occurring for a minimum of 20 seconds, to not work when sick, and how to appropriately cover a cough or sneeze.
Lastly, make sure to take phone payments only. You want to minimize touching credit cards, pens, paper, and cash, as they are all fomites of infection.
Most importantly, stay safe. You guys are essential. And vital. Let’s try to take care of our veterinary patients, our pet owners and ourselves during this stressful time.