Tuesday, August 4, 2020

COVID-19 Q & A

We are so happy to be back at work with our full staff during this crazy time!!!  So we thought this would be a good opportunity to go over some common questions we have encountered upon re-opening in relation to our business operations or the pandemic in general:

1.  Why did you close for so long?  Aren't veterinarians essential?
We are essential!  But as a spay and neuter clinic, we needed to close because spay and neuter surgery is considered elective.  While the Governor's executive order 109 didn't specifically mention veterinarians in the hault of elective surgery, it was implied.  Our state and national associations implored veterinarians to do the right thing during lockdown to help flatten the curve, which meant, as a spay and neuter clinic, we needed to close.

2.  Why is spay and neuter considered elective?
As we see the consequences of not spaying and neutering for 3 months, we sometimes have that same question!  But the fact of the matter is, NJ and other states were extremely concerned about the possibility of  running out of PPE (masks, gloves, etc).  And during a pandemic, these supplies do need to be conserved in case our brethren in human health care and first responders needed them to protect themselves.  Sometimes spay and neuter can be an emergency (if a pet has a pyometra, or prostatitis, both of which can be life threatening infections).  But, for the most part, it can be delayed safely.

3.  Why do I have such a long wait for an appointment?  Why does the online scheduler keep declining my appointments?
We were closed for about 3 months.  That's 3 months worth of appointments that needed to be rescheduled.  In addition to that, the feral cat colonies didn't know about COVID-19, and continued to reproduce!  There are a lot of kittens out there right now.  Many people in lockdown also decided to adopt a pet that now needs a spay or neuter.  Several private practices have also still cut back on elective surgeries as they catch up with their preventative care, which was also on hold for a time.  This means more work for us.  While we are happy to be popular right now, the reality is that we do not have the staffing to increase our services at this time.  We all have had to make scheduling adjustments as we have kids or elderly family members who depend on us for extra help right now.  You may certainly call/text/email us to see if we have any cancellations.  If the online scheduler is declining the date you selected, it is because we are fully booked.  You can try calling us or texting us, and depending on cancellations, we might be able to get you in sooner.  This is especially true if you have a small dog or a cat.

4.  Why have I had such a tough time getting in touch with somebody over the phone?
Catching up on surgeries and rescheduling all of those appointments has taken up more time than we would have liked.  When we are in surgery, and our front office staff is already helping another client, we will let the phone ring.  Our attention needs to be on our patients and anesthesia monitoring rather than answering the phone.  We are checking voicemail frequently, and if you don't want to leave a message, you can always text us your information.  Someone will contact you after surgery.  Our text number is 732-858-1344.

5.  Why aren't I allowed in the building?  When will you discontinue curbside drop off and pick up?
This pandemic is still a reality, and less people in the building means less risk to our staff.  And above all, we need to keep them as safe as possible so we can all stay healthy and continue to do our jobs everyday.  Curbside drop off and pick up is a reality for most veterinary practices right now.  We desperately want to be there for our clients, and it hurts us to do things over the phone/text/email/video.  We love the face to face contact.  But our waiting room is small, and the longer you are in close contact in a tight space talking to someone (and we love to talk!), the greater the risk, even if you are wearing a mask.  Curbside drop off and pick up will be happening for the foreseeable future.  We have gotten tremendous positive feedback from our virtual discharge videos, so make sure you look a those.  We  are committed to your confidence in us, and we are always there for you to answer any questions you might have, but with a mask outdoors, or via phone/email/text.  We are still performing surgical rechecks as needed, but we will triage these first by phone or email.  If you have poor access to technology, or have a special need, please talk to us!  We will work with you to figure something out.

6.  How do I get a hold of you for post-operative concerns?
We are answering the phones, but if you can't catch us, email us with your post-operative concerns.  Use info@spayneuternewjersey.com as directed in your discharge instructions.  DO NOT USE OUR TEXT NUMBER FOR POST OPERATIVE CONCERNS.  This is meant as an additional way to schedule appointments, and is not checked after hours.

7.  I am still concerned about the pandemic.  Should I wait to schedule my dog or cat's vaccines or spay and neuter?
We can't tell you what to do.  Everyone has their own comfort level right now.  But we can tell you that we will keep you and your pet safe if you schedule with us.  If your pet is due for vaccines or needs sterilization, I would encourage you to book it (with us or your private practitioner).  Accidental pregnancies are a reality, and NJ has come so far in the last decade decreasing unwanted pets in shelters.  Let's not let Coronavirus take that away from us.

8.  Can my pet get COVID-19?  How do I protect them?
There have been rare instances of pets (mostly cats) showing signs of respiratory illness and testing positive for the disease when they live in a household where a family member has confirmed COVID-19.  Current theory is that they can be susceptible (at least in some cases), signs are usually mild, and they are likely a dead-end host if they do get sick (meaning they can't pass it back to people).  There is no evidence that the virus is carried on the haircoat.  However, this is all theory at this point.  There is so much we still don't understand about this virus.  The safest thing to do if someone in your house is sick or quarantining from a likely exposure is to have someone else in the household taking care of your pets, and isolate your pets from the quarantined family member.

9.  What kind of precautions are you taking at work to mitigate the spread?
We are currently keeping all clients out of the building, relying on curbside drop off and pick up protocols.  Our daily staff socially distances unless a specific task (e.g. lifting a dog) prevents it.  We all wear masks inside the building.  We rely on technology as much as we can to limit face to face client interactions.  We have increased the frequency of  disinfecting more commonly used surfaces and devices (light switches, keyboards, phones, etc).  Our regular hospital cleaners and disinfectants are lethal to coronavirus.  We continue to use these products and the same broad surface cleaning protocols for floors, cages, counters, surgery tables etc that we always have.  We are a surgical center, and it has always been a top priority to be pristine.  Our patients depend on it.

10.  What can I do to help?
Donate a can of dog or cat food to our foodbank.  If you know a rescuer, ask them if you can sponsor a spay or neuter.  PLEASE DON'T GHOST US!  If you cannot make your appointment, please call or email us.  That spot is saved for you, and we know someone else who wants it.  If you don't show up, we've lost that income.  As a small business struggling through the pandemic, that really hurts.
Be patient.  Remember that we are doing the best we can.  Everyone we encounter in this has some struggle that we don't know about.  We really have to remember that we really are all in this together.  Let's practice kindness wherever we go.

Looking forward to better times ahead!