Covid-19 response

Can I let clients inside the animal hospital now?

  • 1.  Can I let clients inside the animal hospital now?

    Posted 06-30-2020 08:21
    Edited by Tim Atkinson 09-22-2020 13:38
    Updated: Sep 22, 2020
    Earlier this year the Department of Agriculture and Markets has issued "Interim Guidance to Veterinarians Resuming Elective, Non-Urgent Veterinary Procedures and/or Examinations"

    • Curbside intake and pickup of animals should be used, wherever practical, to minimize the number of clients in waiting areas and exam rooms.
    • When curbside intake is impracticable,a protocol must be developed to minimize, to the greatest extent possible, contact between or among the staff, the client,and others at the veterinary facility.
    • In situations in which a handler must accompany an animal into a veterinary facility for drop off or pick up, to the extent possible, there should be only one handler per animal patient.
    • Where social distancing cannot be maintained, both the handler and the facility staff should use appropriate nose and mouth coverings when within 6 feet of each other.
    • Veterinarians and their staff may use their judgment to allow an additional person(s)to accompany the patient and handler in exigent circumstances (e.g.euthanasia)

    Now that we are in September, many are asking "How much longer will this go on for - when restrictions have already been lifted on activities like indoor dining?"

    While it is true that the Governor's office is coordinating a phased re-opening, the drivers for lifting restrictions appear to be focused on reopening education and giving some relief to areas of the economy that are struggling. For example, the NY restaurant industry is in deep crisis with many restaurants already out-of-business. Each loosening of restrictions increases risk, and the affects are cumulative. New York State is among the nation's leaders in controlling the spread of Covid-19, and therefore we expect to see the government continue to be cautious as it reviews safety measures, and prioritize reviewing those that enable people to return to work or continue education.

    Note that the guideline does provide for alternatives where curbside check-in is impracticable (2nd bullet point above). That might become increasingly important in some situations as we move into winter. However, if you do let clients inside the building, make sure you have a written protocol that shows that you are minimizing to the greatest extent possible contact between people within your facility. If this is a change in your mandated safety plan then make sure you update it so that is available should there be an inspection.

    We also recommend that you make it very clear to clients that the curbside check-in is not your choice, but is a Government Directive.

    You may have noticed that many retail establishments have signs that say that wearing masks is government mandated, as a way of deflecting discussion. You could also use signs that say "Government Directive - No clients allowed in the hospital" and invite clients to express their concerns to the Governor rather than your front-desk staff.