Setting alternative appointments may be a good decision for public health and the economic health of your business. While most of our veterinary and dental clients inform us they have yet to feel a significant (or modest) slowdown of services, there is a quickly moving trend to request veterinarians and dentists to reschedule or cancel elective surgeries. Some states have, and others are highly suggesting (and considering mandating), all non-essential businesses to close altogether. While we strive to provide updated information as soon as possible, you may consider alternative appointments, if not for public health concerns, to preserve your personal protective equipment that is on backorder. Below are some ideas…
Most states permit telemedicine appointments if there is already a VCPR established with a client. If you are not set up for telemedicine, you may consider setting up a free Zoom account that allows you to conduct a broad spectrum of video conferencing using a laptop with a camera, or even a smartphone, to conduct telehealth appointments. As of this moment there is no widely known exceptions to establishing a VCPR without a physical exam and any such exception would come from your state specific board.
Reduce Physical Time in Office/Drop-offs
You may be able to limit the time a client spends in office by taking histories and payments by phone, having them wait in the car until you are ready for their appointment, or deliver prescriptions and other items directly to the client’s vehicle. Veterinarians should consider daily admits (drop-offs) as a good balance to continue operations while protecting the public.
Ration Your In-House Pharmacy and PPE
It is expected several items will be in short supply in the near future so stretching out refill requests of these items from your own pharmacy may be a wise idea. I will refer you to your distributors and manufacturers for a list of items. If you haven’t started already, now is the time to ration the use of personal protective equipment as reasonably as possible. Use reusable items as appropriate and limit the waste of disposable items such as gloves and masks (this may be the best reason to reschedule elective treatments and surgeries).
Reschedule Elective Surgeries? For How Long?
Interesting question! I will tell you as of the writing of this entry I personally have an elective surgery (meniscus repair) scheduled at local hospital on April 3, 2020. The hospital has yet to reschedule that appointment and I assume is adopting the “wait and see approach” before doing so. At the moment, we are recommending that, if you decide to reschedule elective surgeries, to do so 1 week or 2 weeks at a time to allow the absorption of additional information.
Hindsight is 20/20
Make no mistakes about it, there are no right answers and every business owner must individually address his or her own business, community, and local government actions. In 3-4 months there will be arguments on both sides concerning whether or not the precautions taken by governments and businesses were necessary and effective, or a simple drain on the economy. To be sure, know your clients and staff and address them in a manner that preserves your integrity in both a safe and economic manner.