Veterinarians are still working hard through the COVID-19 outbreak, providing healthcare to pets. They are doing it under new constraints, as well.
Principally, the changes protect clients, staff and the public from disease transmission. They also ensure that clinics can remain open. For the most part, this involves increased cleaning and sanitation, but also reduced contact between staff and clients. Those who are ill or suspect they have been in contact with someone who is are asked to find a healthy person to bring their pet to appointments.
The clinics ask clients to recognize that additional time might be necessary to collect information over the telephone, as well as by clients completing forms or payment online or via telephone. They also ask that clients follow CDC Guidelines around hand washing and social distance.
Capitol Hill Animal Clinic
“We are a small clinic,” wrote Dr. Murphy of Capitol Hill Animal Clinic (1240 Pennsylvania Ave. SE). “If one staff member becomes sick, the clinic will have to close for a minimum of two weeks while we all self-quarantine. We are trying to prevent that from happening.”
Capitol Hill Animal Clinic has modified their hours. They’re open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. with a mid-day closure from 11:30-12:30 for disinfection, and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon.
No clients are admitted to clinic during the crisis. Instead, the clinic has implemented a drop-off policy. Clients call to say they are outside the door, or waiting in their cars, and staff will bring pets into the clinic. Consultations will take place between clients and the veterinarian over the phone.
The clinic will still see pets for regular appointments, annual exams and Human Rescue Alliance Certification Exams. Dr. Murphy said he and the staff will work with all clients to ensure pets get medications and prescriptions during the crisis. If necessary, these will be delivered to the Capitol Hill, Nay Yard and Southwest communities.
District Veterinary Hospital
District Vet (240 Seventh St. SE and 3748 10th St. NE) is open to clients and patients. “The key to quelling the COVID is cleanliness and reducing the density of people in one area,” wrote Medical Director Dr. Dan Teich. To that end, only one client will be admitted per pet appointment, even if the client has two pets. All forms should be filled online, and only credit cards are being accepted.
If a client is not well, coughing, or on quarantine, clients are asked to give advance notice to the clinic of the case, and then to have the pet brought in by a friend or non-quarantined person.
Both hospitals are immediately rooming all clients to avoid waiting and transmission in clinic. To that end, all furniture in the waiting room has been removed.
Union Vet (609 Second St. NE) is no longer allowing clients into the clinic. Clients should drop off their pet by calling 202-544-2500 to say they are outside, and a staff member will come collect the pet. The veterinarian will communicate via telephone, and will call when the appointment is complete, sending the pet and any food or medications back out to you.
Appointments have been limited to scheduled appointments or life-threatening emergencies. They are suspending technician appointments and all boarding. Food and prescription pick-up and payment can still be arranged by telephone, and the client can call to let the clinic know when they are outside.
Atlas Vet (1326 H St. NE) has also shortened their hours to 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Saturday. They’ve split their staff into two teams to reduce transmission if anyone is affected with the virus. The commons surfaces are being cleaned 4 to 5 times a day and the hospital undergoes a deep clean nightly.
Hospital access is restricted to team members, but they are still seeing appointments. Clients are asked to schedule appointments in advance (202-552-8600) and call upon arrival, either by foot at the front door or by car in the back (Atlas has arranged to use the lot behind the building during the outbreak, which can be entered at 1362 H St. NE or via 13th Street). A technician will come greet you and take the bed. Cats should be in carriers, and dogs in cars should not have leashes.
The doctors will call the client to discuss the pet care and needs. When the appointment is over, the pet will be returned to you, and clients can call back to pay.
The clinics all expressed their pride in the staff that keep coming to work every day, simultaneously dealing with the stress of their own lives and the healthcare of pets loved by the families that are their clients. All saw that they recognize the obligation to take care of their patients and their staff, and are taking it seriously.
“We do not know what is going to happen in the upcoming months. We are still a small business with financial needs and goals,” wrote Atlas Vet Co-Founder Dr. Matthew Antkowiak. “Closing may become an inevitable eventuality. But, in the meantime, if we are going to succeed at the above goal, we need our clients and our staff on board and pulling in the same direction.
This is a fluid situation and this information may change. Visit the website or call your veterinary clinic before a scheduled appointment to ensure up-to-date knowledge of expectations.