To Our Wonderful Clients —
I truly hope you and your loved ones are doing as well as can be expected during these challenging times. In recent weeks, I have communicated with many of you by phone and video, but it is not the same as being able to see you and your pets in person.
As you may know, the government previously restricted veterinary clinics to the provision of urgent services. Although this limited the care we could provide at the clinic, we decided to maintain our hours of operation (8 a.m. to 10 p.m., 7 days a week) and we instituted various procedures to enable ongoing care for your animals, including telemedicine appointments through our web site, curbside drop-off and pick-up, and delivery of food and medicine.
On Thursday, the Ontario government announced that the first stage of its economic recovery plan allows veterinary clinics to offer expanded services through “regular veterinary appointments”. This means that we can offer more services at the clinic starting May 19th but need to ensure we do so in as safe a manner as possible.
We have reviewed the government’s announcement, the Chief Medical Officer of Health’s guidelines for veterinary clinics, the OVMA’s Guide to Reopening Veterinary Medicine in Ontario, and the update from the College of Veterinarians of Ontario (our governing body).
A common message in these documents is that the clinic must be a safe environment for our clients and our staff. The CVO specifically noted that veterinarians have a responsibility to society to deliver services in a manner that decreases COVID-19 exposure.
As a first step, please continue to consider telemedicine appointments through our web site. We may be able to see and treat your pet without any need for a clinic visit. Otherwise, here is what we will be doing as we slowly re-open:
- Access will continue to be restricted to the clinic. Unfortunately, you will not be able to join your pet for an appointment.
- We will call you before the appointment, where possible, to take your pet’s history and any other background information. Please keep your phone handy during the appointment in case we need to call you with follow up questions.
- Please call when you arrive at the clinic with your pet. A staff member will reach outside to leash your pet or collect the pet carrier. You will be called at the end of the appointment to go over our findings and arrange the pick-up of your pet with a similar transfer procedure.
- Appointments will be spaced further apart than normal to mitigate potential overlap.
- We are making additional physical changes at the clinic in the coming days to provide more internal space for increased distancing opportunities for our staff. We also hope to install secure hooks and a vestibule at the clinic entrance for certain pet transfers.
- We are considering scheduling surgeries overnight and on weekends to minimize the number of people in the clinic at certain times.
- We would ask you not to wait at the front doors of the clinic. We need to keep the sidewalk clear and minimize the potential for groups.
- We will continue to offer curbside pick-up for food and medication.
- Please remember our web store. Food and medication can be ordered online and delivered to you.
- We will also be contacting our clients who had appointments or dental and surgical procedures postponed as a result of COVID-19.
Finally, as an incentive to give us some time to establish and test our approach to re-opening, from now until May 31st, we are offering a 15% discount on appointments booked for June or July for regular check-ups, vaccines, and spay/neuters. This will also help us with advance planning for those months. These appointments must be booked by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please indicate your preferred day of the week, time slot(s), and/or veterinarian (if any).
We need to keep you and your families safe. We also need to keep our staff and their families safe. As always, your patience will continue to be appreciated as we navigate this together.
Dr. Mark Dilworth