How are we doing at the Waverley Animal Hospital with the COVID-19 changes and challenges?
What a year it has been so far…
It’s hard to believe it’s been the same year that we couldn’t go outside in January because the air quality was so bad from the bushfires.
Then the COVID-19 Pandemic has turned the world we knew onto it’s head, with Social Distancing, Flattening of Curves, Home Isolation, and the great unknown of our health, the economy, the stocks of flour and toilet paper…
The veterinary industry was wracked with the same unknown as a lot of other industries, but once we were assured we were an “essential service”, the question then became how we could provide our essential service in an appropriate Socially Distancing way, that provided safety for our clients and staff, but still allowed us to care for pets the way we needed to.
In all honesty? – it’s been tough. The work load on our staff – both nurses and vets, has been immense since March, as we have tried to mould a workable solution from some basic frame works.
Starting from A-B teams working split shifts, to A-B teams working long days with shortened hours until it looked like things were settling down enough with spread that we would be able to get the whole team back together again.
All the while providing a “modified clinical service” – where we had been restricting entry into the clinic only to staff. Clients would call when arriving, with vets and nurses going out into the carpark to meet our clients and bringing their pets into the hospital for examination and treatment, then coming back out again to talk through treatments and plans.
This has worked great, but again, it’s been tough. Our nursing staff have been fielding 2-3 times the numbers of phone calls, while helping the vets with the examination of the patients. Our vets have become very adept at using the EFTPOS machine (and apart from 1 incident, where someone dropped the EFTPOS machine in the middle of a busy afternoon consulting bracket – yep, it was old Dr “Butter Fingers” Anderton…) taking payments for clients, to help to lighten the load for the nursing staff as well.
It was lovely during some of the lovely sunny autumn afternoons to get to talk to our clients outside – like those times at primary school when the teacher would take the class outside on a nice day. Then, as we got into June, some of the less than 10 degree mornings, or torrential rain, kind of took the sheen off the outside consulting fun…
So while the nurses and vets have made up a big part of the team approach to help to get us through this time, the big thanks goes to you all – our wonderful clients.
Everyone has been affected by this unprecedented pandemic changing their lives, some drastically, but the amount of goodwill that has been passed onto our staff in friendly comments, encouragement, and gratitude has been brilliant. It’s really kept us going through the tough times.
So where are we at now, in June 2020???
We are starting to allow clients in restricted numbers into the clinic again – which we are all so happy about (especially now it’s fully winter – the heater is much nicer inside the building than the carpark)!
Everyone is enjoying getting to come inside for a chat again, catching up with the nurses that they have only been talking to on the phone all time but not being able to see face to face.
We are still using some social distancing protocols, utilising our nurses to help to hold especially the smaller patients on the consult table, so that the “close contact” time during an examination in the consult room is between our staff, so as to not expose clients to unnecessary contact with our staff.
Clients are able to come in and buy food and pick up medications again, and come into the waiting room, we are just managing numbers of clients in the clinic and “traffic flow”.
We will continue to monitor what is safest for our clients as well as our staff, and keep on providing the excellent care and honest advice that you have always had from us at the Waverley Animal Hospital.
So thanks for all your help and understanding, massive thanks to our great staff, and we’ll keep moving our “new normal” back to our “good old times” again – hopefully soon!
Dr Robbie Anderton and Dr Chris Hardham