Short answer – because we want to stay open to serve YOU!
The Oregon Veterinary Medical Association announced on 10/27/20 that Oregon OSHA has adopted Temporary COVID-19 Workplace Rules, which includes specific requirements for veterinary facilities and mandates curbside service. From the announcement on oregonvma.org:
“The state’s workplace and safety division will soon approve regulations that require all employers to implement risk-reducing measures to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus. The temporary rule, which will take effect in November, would remain in effect for 180 days.”
To read the full guidance and curbside mandate, visit https://oregonvma.org/news/covid-19-patient-care-guidance
The longer answer is more detailed, including state regulations and best practices for the health and safety of our patients, clients and staff.
First, we are following the Oregon Veterinary Medical Association and Oregon OSHA guidelines per the COVID-19 Patient Care & Clinic Administration Guidance, which is set forth for all veterinarians in the state of Oregon. The guidance can be read in its entirety here, but the key section states:
“OSHA is taking enforcement of distancing requirements seriously and will not only be investigating complaints but conducting random spot checks of businesses, and this may include veterinary practices.
As every practice is different in terms of how the clinic is configured, what services it offers, and the size of staff, there is no one-size-fits-all set of guidelines to achieve optimal physical distancing.
Following are some best practices:
Limit Clinic Access to Staff Only – It is recommended to limit access to the clinic to staff only, with patient transfer happening outside. Meet clients at a safe distance in the parking lot.
Appropriately protected staff can bring the animal into the practice for an examination and treatment. The veterinarian can discuss the diagnosis and/or treatment plan by telephone with the client who remains outside. Client communication, including transactions, can be handled by phone, text or e-mail.
Second, we’ve seen many colleagues locally and across the country experience devastating staff impacts from COVID-19, and we’re closely monitoring industry best practices to reduce risk. Based on this, we’ve determined that maintaining curbside service, among other internal sanitation and hygiene practices, is the most effective way to help prevent Frontier from having to shorten hours, or worse yet, close due to sick team members. The thought of putting our team members and clients at risk or being unable to care for our patients is unimaginable, which is why our COVID safety policies are made with the priority of staying open and able to care for you and your pets.
Lastly, we realize that it may seem like there is little risk to you coming in for your pet’s appointment, and with the safety measures we’re taking within the practice that may be the case. However, our doctors and staff are in a very different position. This is due to the large number of appointments we see every day, veterinary appointments requiring an enclosed space for safe examination, and the length of in-person appointments exceeding the 15-minute exposure guidelines set forth by the CDC.
On average each one of our doctors sees between 200-300 patients per month. With in-person appointments, that means each doctor and some support team members would have CDC-defined exposure to that many individual pet owners each and every month. Our team are regular folks outside of work with family and household members they care about, some of whom are immunocompromised or are at-risk due to health conditions themselves. As their employer, we believe it’s our duty to keep them as safe as possible while at work so they and their loved ones can stay healthy.
We know that leaving your pet with us can be stressful– our staff and doctors are pet owners themselves and truly understand how difficult it is to be away from your pet, especially when you’re worried about an illness or injury.
As an American Animal Hospital Association Accredited Practice, American Association of Feline Practitioners Gold Status Cat Friendly Practice, and with several Certified Fear Free Veterinary Professionals on staff, we take our duty to abide by the strictest guidelines for patient, client and staff safety seriously for all our industry’s regulating organizations. We assure you that “behind the scenes”, your pet’s care is performed with the same level of love and professionalism as before COVID. To see pictures of patients during their curbside appointments, follow us on Facebook and Instagram!