MIAMI COUNTY — Veterinary services fall under the “essential business” category, according to Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton’s recent stay-at-home order, however, local vet offices have added several precautions to office protocol in the attempt to prevent the spread of coronavirus, or COVID-19.
Recently, Gov. Mike DeWine urged people to postpone many elective surgeries, including those performed by veterinarians, due to a shortage of masks need to protect medical professionals against the ever-spreading virus.
As part of this, many vet offices are no longer performing routine spays and neuters.
Miami Acres Animal Hospital, in Troy, will not see walk-in pet patients and has dialed back the amount of appointments available.
“We’re only seeing ‘needed’ cases; nothing routine,” said manager Bobbi Ochs. “We’re not doing surgery at this point unless it’s an emergency.”
“Need to be seen” cases include an ill pet with symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, red inflamed ears, and the like.
Ochs said the facility is currently only allowing one person to enter the building with a pet — though special consideration may be taken in the event of euthenasia — and a limited staff will be available in order to adhere to “social distancing” orders from the governor.
The facility is offering curb-side service for things like pet food and medication. Ochs added that these items must be paid for over the phone and will be hand-delivered to the customer’s vehicle.
Ochs said the facility was approached with a request by the health department to donate vital medical supplies if available, but said items in question are on back-order for the facility, leaving them with just enough to sustain the practice with the added criteria for service, for the time being.
Stonyridge Veterinary Service, in Troy, and Troy Animal Hospital-Bird Clinic have both put similar criteria into effect.
These facilities will continue to provide food and medication curb-side, though no clients will be allowed into the buildings. Those who have an appointment are asked to call upon arrival and an employee will bring the pet in and return them to the car. The doctor will then call to discuss any findings/treatment options.
TAHBC is offering phone consultations with the doctors for minor issues, for patients who have been seen in the past year, and has discontinued elective surgeries until further notice, along with routine grooms, baths and nail trims.
Community Veterinary Clinic, with locations in Troy and Piqua, is adjusting scheduling, placing patients in exam rooms with no waiting, offering curb-side services, and taking payments over the phone, all in the effort to adhere to social distancing precautions.
Tipp City Veterinary Hospital will remain open, but has suspended the operation of its lodging, daycare, and grooming services for the duration of Ohio’s stay-at-home order. The facility will also offer curb-side services, limiting direct access to the building to TCVH employees only, and will reschedule or delay some non-critical procedures to help conserve medical supplies.
West Milton Veterinary Clinic has also implemented curb-side service for medications, food and appointments, and all non-critical procedures and surgeries will be postponed. Visits have been restricted to emergency only, including wounded or sick animals. Those visiting the facility must call upon arrival and a veterinary technician or assistant will attend to visitors in their vehicles, bringing the pet in alone.
WMVC business manager Ray Chester said, along with many other veterinary facilities, the clinic was approached by the health department regarding the possible donation of medical supplies, specifically personal protective equipment, or PPE.
“Unfortunately, we’re in short supply and having a hard time finding hand sanitizers and face masks,” Chester said. “Everything is really limited.”
Chester said the limiting of surgeries and procedures at the clinic will help keep the facility from running out of supplies, with not much to spare.
“I think we’ll be OK,” he said. “In the veterinary world, you can wear the same mask through the whole day if it’s not exposed to anything, whereas in the human world, you have to change them out every time you see someone new.”
Dr. Carrie Williams of Cornerstone Veterinary Clinic, in Piqua, said her facility was also approached by the health department, as well as two area hospitals, regarding the possible donation of PPE.
“Unfortunately, we don’t have any unopened boxes of gloves or surgical masks,” she said. “The veterinary industry has been dealing with shortages for much longer than the human health care industry, so I don’t keep a lot of those things in stock, more than what I am already using.”
Along with curb-side service to allow for adequate social distancing, Cornerstone Veterinary Clinic, in Piqua, is giving clients the option to download a telemedicine app, called Medici, which allows them to contact Williams through text or video chat for consultation.
“For some things, they might still have to come in for me to see a pet, but for the clients with a pet who I’ve seen within the past 12 months, sometimes I can prescribe treatment or make recommendations without them having to visit the office in person,” Williams said.