By Amanda Zetwo, DVM, Medical Director of Clinic & Community Services
Veterinary staff working in the nonprofit community are some of the most creative thinkers. We are always seeking new ways to provide the highest level of care while working around barriers such as cost and transportation. So, when the stay-at-home order was issued, we knew that we would need to change our operations in order to continue to serve our clients.
Looking to the Centers for Disease Control, Department of Health and other animal welfare organizations for guidance, Animal Friends suspended all services which were not deemed urgent. This was in an effort to conserve our personal protective equipment so that it would be available for human medical care in the event of a national shortage. But, we knew that we still needed to be there for the pets and people who needed us.
In addition to following guidelines to suspend all non-emergency care, we were also committed to protecting our staff, volunteers and clients. And, in doing our part to adhere to social distancing recommendations, we introduced a new tool to our Clinic and Community Services – Telehealth!
Telehealth is conducted over the phone, by email or during a video chat as a way to provide direction in caring for a pet who may be experiencing health issues. While we can assist with minor issues that simply require the owner to keep a close eye on the pet, some cases require an immediate referral to an emergency veterinary hospital or local clinic. In some cases, we were able to schedule urgent surgeries to be completed at our clinic.
During our Telehealth appointments, we saw a variety of cases ranging from cats with upper respiratory problems, to dogs with ticks, behavior concerns, reproductive issues and growths, coughing and even a few consultations for rabbit owners.
As our community continues to work toward a new normal, our services will continue to evolve. And, our goal will remain the same – to meet the needs of our community and to keep pets healthy!