August 2020: A Letter From Dr. Gengler
MAINTAINING OUR EXCELLENT CARE AT DUVALL VETERINARY HOSPITAL AMID THE COVID-19 CRISIS
COVID-19, and all the changes it has brought to our personal lives, social lives, professional lives, and our society, have been overwhelming. One cannot open a newspaper, scan social media sites, or walk into a store without a blunt reminder that life in America has changed.
HOSPITAL & INDUSTRY UPDATES
Life at Duvall Veterinary Hospital has changed as well, and we would like to share some details about these changes and what they mean for you, our present and future clients. Also, we want to share two especially important messages for all pet owners, whether in the Pacific Northwest or elsewhere, which we will include at the bottom of this letter.
The most obvious changes have been the logistics of curbside care, a reduction in face-to-face time with our doctors at your visit, and longer wait times. Our building cannot facilitate the degree of social distancing our governor and the health department require. As a result, we must do the best that we can with what we have and continue with our current plan. While this is not ideal, we do understand it is necessary from a public health standpoint. To accommodate these changes to the best of our ability, we have added phone lines, implemented telemedicine options, and are actively hiring to grow our team and keep things moving as efficiently possible.
The less obvious change, and the aspect that we want to address with this statement, is that since mid-April, we have been so busy that our schedule fills so quickly that we have at times been unable to provide the same level of on-demand care our clients have come to expect from us.
Historically, one could call us with a concern, and our schedule was structured such that we could arrange a visit within 24 hours, if not within 4 hours. In seasons past, we have been able to accommodate new clients by making an appointment within a day or two. This was not made possible because we had nothing to do, but because we intentionally built our schedule around being conveniently accessible for our clients and patients.
When COVID-19 emerged, and the governor of Washington instituted the Shelter in Place order, there were restrictions placed on veterinary hospitals. Appointment and medical service availability at all hospitals and clinics in the state was reduced. As March led to April and April to May, some clinics in the area maintained themselves at reduced availability. DVH remained open and served our community’s emergency and urgent care needs during our regular hours, 6 days a week, utilizing our curbside protocols to keep everyone as safe and socially distanced as possible.
Consequently, we have been inundated with new client and patient requests in addition to keeping up with our long-term, loyal clients who became backlogged as their routine preventive care was postponed. We are aware that a large segment of our new client requests come from individuals with genuine need. And, while we loathe turning even one patient away, time is a limited resource. We are doing everything we can to meet the needs for as many patients as possible, day in and day out.
TWO IMPORTANT MESSAGES
- First, to our amazing clients, we appreciate your loyalty to us over the years. We are grateful for your trust and for your business. During this time of limited capacity, our priority is being as available to you as we can be. We kindly ask that you call for appointments sooner rather than later, before an issue becomes too serious or emergent.
- Second, to the reader who does not have a relationship with a full-service veterinary facility, we recommend you schedule an appointment with a veterinarian today at their earliest availability, whenever that may be. This will establish a relationship between you and your veterinarian, as well as between your pet and your veterinarian. Establish this veterinary-client-patient relationship (VCPR) with a veterinarian in your community today so that one day in the future, in your time of need, you’ll have a clinic that knows you, knows your pet, and can respond to your need with a timely, loyal response.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR CONTINUED PATIENCE AND UNDERSTANDING
In conclusion, we ask that you continue to be patient with the curbside process at DVH during your visits. Our team is working hard to facilitate the smoothest visit possible for you and your pet. Please understand that while our schedule may not be as flexible for you as it has been in the past, our genuine hope is that this is only a temporary necessity as we all navigate this unforeseen experience together. However, we have welcomed a new full-time doctor to our practice, which has increased the number of appointments we can accommodate in a day. We are managing through the pandemic to the best of our ability while also refusing to compromise in our mission of providing the highest quality veterinary care manageable and peace of mind through preventative medicine, in a kind, compassionate, and comprehensive way for you and your pet.
Together, with patience, kindness, and compassion, we will make our way through these unprecedented times.
Michelle Gengler, DVM and the Team at Duvall Veterinary Hospital
May 2020: COVID-19 Safety Protocols
At Duvall Veterinary Hospital, we are doing everything we can to stay available to our patients and clients. It is our priority to try to keep our community and pets healthy. As the coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread globally, we are taking appropriate precautions to address the outbreak by following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Our current approach and response to COVID-19 are outlined below.
WHAT IS COVID-19?
COVID-19 is caused by a member of the coronavirus family, and it first appeared in late 2019 in Wuhan, China. Symptoms of COVID-19 can include fever, runny nose, cough and breathing trouble. While most people experience mild symptoms, some may develop more severe symptoms, which can be fatal.
COVID-19 is believed to be spread only person to person, which means that infection can occur through close contact with infected individuals. Although it is believed that COVID-19 is most contagious when an infected individual is most symptomatic, an individual may still be contagious without exhibiting any symptoms.
According to the CDC, the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to avoid it. Duvall Veterinary Hospital team members are doing our part to prevent the spread by practicing good hygiene at work and at home:
- Regularly washing hands for at least 20 seconds throughout the day, and after every patient, with warm water and soap, specifically before eating. This is done more frequently than normal.
- Covering coughs and sneezes.
- Avoiding making close contact with others, such as shaking hands. Additionally, everyone should avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth.
- We are frequently cleaning and disinfecting commonly used surfaces (countertops, keyboards, doorknobs, faucets, and stethoscopes).
- You will be informed if you were in contact with a team member that becomes diagnosed with COVID-19
To help you remain healthy, we encourage you to use hand sanitizer at the front desk. We have limited amounts of sanitizing supplies and will continue to restock as we are able. For additional guidance on maintaining your health, see the CDC’s webpage on prevention and treatment.
YOUR PERSONAL HEALTH
If you have symptoms of acute respiratory illness, you should self-quarantine or seek medical attention as stated by the CDC. Please refrain from entering our offices if:
- You have a fever, cough, or are sneezing or
- You have flu-like symptoms or
- You have exposure to people or locations with documented COVID-19 cases in the past three weeks.
To protect the health of you and our team, please consider a Telemedicine visit to talk with one of our veterinarians from home. Call us to learn more.
WHAT DOES COVID-19 MEAN FOR MY PET?
Your pet is not at risk for being infected with COVID-19. The CDC has reported no COVID-19 cases in pets in the USA. The Hong Kong weak positive dog case has no symptoms and the test cannot distinguish samples with intact viruses from fragments of the RNA. It is possible that dogs, like all objects, may be a location to find the virus. For example, “The World Health Organization is encouraging the use of digital payment options because the COVID-19 virus is thought to survive on hard surfaces like coins for days.” Other sources say, “Infectious disease experts in human and animal health organizations agree there is no evidence at this point to indicate that pets can spread COVID-19 to other animals, including humans.”
Do not abandon your pets out of fear of contracting COVID-19 from them or infecting them with COVID-19. Practice basic hygiene. Wash your hands with soap and water after handling or walking your pets. If you’d like to take extra precaution, you can wipe down your pets with disposable baby wipes after their walks. Contact us if you need further advice.
WHAT SHOULD I DO TO PREPARE FOR MY PET’S CARE?
We know that some of you may end up quarantined or stuck at home sick. We still want to help you the best we can. Some choices are as follows:
- Identify another person who is willing and able to transport your pet to our office. With notice, we will meet them in the parking lot. This will become a drop-off appointment.
- We will offer parking lot pick up of your pet for his/her exam, while you remain in your vehicle.
- We request that you call the hospital (425-788-2620) at the time of your arrival so that our technician staff can get the initial information regarding the reason for your pet’s visit. The Technician will then retrieve your pet from your car, and we’ll perform a physical exam in the hospital. The doctor will call you at that time to discuss any findings and the plan moving forward. Once the exam is complete, we will process payment over the phone. The Technician will bring your pet back to the car for you along with your receipt.
- We will continue to fill prescriptions, and ask that you plan ahead when needing refills. Please allow 3-5 days advanced notice for refill needs.
- We can arrange to deliver needed food/medications to your door by utilizing our online store, VetSource. A link can be found on our website as well as our PetDesk app.
Given this is a rapidly developing situation, we will continue to monitor developments and update our course of action as new information becomes available through the CDC. We know it’s a stressful time, but please believe that your pets are safe and that you are safe around your pets. We appreciate your patience as we all learn to work with these new changes and hope to return to normal operating procedures soon. If you have any more questions, we’re here to help!
Please follow us on social media for additional updates!
Michelle Gengler, DVM and the Team at Duvall Veterinary Hospital