Since we are two years into the COVID-19 pandemic and a year past the time when vaccines became available, I would like to talk a little bit about where we have been and where I hope we are going in the future.
In the past month or so we’ve had an increasing number of questions about when we will be able to re-open the building and have you accompany your pets to their appointments again. I know how strange it has seemed for everyone to have to work with the restrictions of curbside service, it’s been weird for us too!
I like to think that Spring Glen has always been a welcoming place and the restrictions that we had to adopt to keep everyone safe and to keep being able to do what we do have been a blow to that perception. It’s hard to feel like you are a kind and welcoming person when you’re having to separate people from their pets and say “No!” all the time.
With the creativity, dedication, and persistence of our fantastic team, though, we’ve managed to put together a process that, regardless of the weirdness and inconvenient bits, actually works pretty well.
Over the last two years we have found that most anxious pets are actually less anxious when we have them in the building alone. With the advent of curbside service our small building has been much quieter and that helps a lot. Because we’re doing most of our communication with our patients’ families over the phone the amount of time that pets actually have to be in the building – with its weird sounds and smells – is much shorter and that definitely helps.
And of course, pets who aren’t anxious about veterinary visits are enjoying to the ability to walk around the building with the technicians and veterinary assistants and meet staff that they might not otherwise get a chance to meet (and, I have to admit, get snacks that they might not otherwise get 😊). When it’s just a few people and the critters in the building we can be a little less restricted in how patients move around in the building.
As much of a benefit as these things have been to our patient experience, however, I also know the benefit of face-to-face communication and I know how much you value your little furry family members. Curbside service is a useful tool, but it can’t be a permanent solution.
To explain where we’re going in the future, I need to explain a little bit of my own recent past.
In September of 2019 my husband received the gift of a kidney from a dear friend. This incredibly selfless act has meant the world to me and my family. My husband is now healthy and happy but profoundly, and permanently, immune suppressed.
Almost exactly three months after my husband was discharged from the hospital with his new kidney the first case of COVID-19 was detected in the U.S.
Being an “immune suppressed family” in the middle of the biggest pandemic in human history has been challenging. We’ve been dealing with the same missed gatherings of family and friends and the same missed travel opportunities that everyone has been dealing with. My husband has worked from home for the last 25 years so fortunately he hasn’t had any challenges with his workplace, but my workplace is a constant risk to him.
I am, of course, vaccinated for COVID-19 and I’m proud to say that the Spring Glen team has stepped up marvelously to help keep themselves safe which keeps me, and by extension, my husband safe. My husband is vaccinated, but there is no way to know how effective the vaccine is for a profoundly immune suppressed person.
That is the primary reason why we have continued with curbside service for so long. My chances of being a transmission vector to my husband are extremely slight, but it’s a chance we can’t take. The truth is that any exposure could potentially be fatal.
So when we open the building again, and barring the rise of another variant that should be possible later this spring, we’re going to be doing business in a careful way to be sure that everyone stays safe. After our own health and that of our families, our primary concern is to be able to keep Spring Glen open and able to provide service to you and your pets.
When we do open, we will still be doing our check-ins over the phone. When you come for your appointment, you’ll call to let us know that you’re here and an assistant or technician will collect the appropriate information from you over the phone.
Once checked in your pet will be brought into the building for the exam. When the exam is done, we will come and get you from the car so you can speak with the doctor face to face in the exam room with your pet.
Masks will still be required. Even though most public spaces are now mask-optional masks are still required in health care facilities.
We will only be able to accommodate one adult per appointment.
Anyone who isn’t comfortable with these measures is welcome to continue their service at Spring Glen through our curbside-only process.
To limit crowding in our lobbies, appointments with the technicians, physical therapy and laser appointments, and medication pick-ups will still be done as curbside service.
We are all hopeful that the coming year will allow us to remove further restrictions. For right now, and as has been true over the last two years, we’re very thankful to all of you for your patience, cooperation, and consideration.
Dr. Margaret Hammond
Spring Glen Veterinary Hospital