Veterinary services are essential during the COVID-19 pandemic, which means veterinarian practices must understand how COVID-19 spreads, what precautions they should take, and how to keep staff, patients, and animals safe during this time.
At Eco Bear, we understand the stress this puts your practice under. We are here to help you understand the latest information, answer your questions, and help you understand the need for proper disinfection services to eradicate the risk of the virus from entering or staying in your practice.
What is COVID-19?
We know there is a lot of information out there and it’s hard to determine what’s true and false. We provide you with the facts straight from federal and state government sources. Here’s what you should know about COVID-19:
- COVID-19 spreads easily among humans and not everyone shows symptoms. A cough, sneeze, or personal touch can quickly spread the virus from one person to another.
- COVID-19 also spreads from surface contact as the virus may last on certain surfaces for several hours or sometimes as long as a day.
- Certain people are at higher risk including those over age 65, anyone with a compromised immune system, those with chronic illnesses, and pregnant women.
- Anyone can catch the virus no matter their age, gender, or race.
- Social distancing is crucial for all staff members and patients, which means keeping a 6-foot distance between each person at all times.
- If social distancing can’t be achieved due to treatment requirements, personnel should wear proper PPE to protect themselves.
- Not everyone shows symptoms that carries COVID-19. Enforcing social distancing practices as much as possible can help minimize the risk of spreading the germs.
Self-Monitoring for Symptoms
Veterinary practices should implement self-monitoring practices for all staff members that take place at least twice a day. This includes:
- Taking temperatures before leaving home for work and once during your shift. Ideally, this should be 12 hours apart. Any temperature over 100.0 is symptomatic and employees should stay home.
- Assess respiratory health for coughing or difficulty breathing. At the first sign of these symptoms, the employee should stay home.
- Veterinary practices should have proper equipment to assess employees either upon entry to the practice or throughout the day. You can set up your own procedures, but ensure that your employees self-report symptoms if you leave it up to them.
- Any employee showing symptoms should be immediately isolated to avoid exposure to any other staff members or clients. The employee should go home and stay home for 14 days (at least 10 days from the first symptom and 3 additional days after symptoms subside, which means no fever and no cough).
- Any employees that report symptoms while at home should be allowed to stay home without requiring a doctor’s note. Require employees to self-isolate for at least 10 days from the start of symptoms and another 3 days after symptoms end (no fever or cough).
- Trace any employees that may have had close contact with an infected employee. If anyone had close contact (closer than 6 feet) for 10 minutes or more should self-isolate for 14 days. If no symptoms occur during that time, the employee may return to work.
- In times of employee shortage, exposed employees that don’t have symptoms may be able to work, but they must wear protective face coverings and continually monitor themselves for symptoms, reporting them immediately.
- If staffing permits, allow any high-risk employees to remain at home to avoid excessive exposure to the virus.
Protecting Clients and Employees
Veterinary clinics also need to put the safety and wellbeing of clients in place with precautions including:
- Social distancing in the waiting areas including removing any chairs that can’t be disinfected and any chairs that remain should be at least 6 feet apart
- Minimal contact should occur between clients and staff. This includes limiting the number of people allowed in at a time, which may be possible by spreading out appointments.
- Have adequate handwashing stations and/or hand sanitizer (touchless) throughout the facility for both employees and clients. Request clients to sanitize their hands upon entering the facility.
- Ensure all clients keep a 6-foot distance from employees at all times.
- Implement a touchless exchange of animals that works for your practice and layout.
- Hang signage that highlights the importance of proper handwashing or hand sanitizing after eating, going to the bathroom, coming into contact with others, and coughing/sneezing.
- Hang signage asking any clients to avoid coming in if they have any symptoms including a fever, cough, respiratory issues, or sore throat.
- Remove all commonly touched objects as COVID-19 can remain on objects for hours and sometimes more than a day.
- Implement touchless checkout procedures, including avoiding the use of pens or styluses. If you can’t avoid use of common objects, ensure proper disinfection after each use and keep hand sanitizer near the common objects, encouraging everyone to sanitize their hands before and after use.
Proper disinfection techniques must be used throughout the veterinary practice both in the common areas, such as waiting rooms and exam rooms as well as in the back of the practice.
Use EPA-registered disinfectant products that are labeled to kill COVID-19. Make sure to follow all manufacturers’ instructions on the cleaning products and use them as frequently as possible. Disinfection should occur as often as you can, but most definitely:
- After use by an employee or client
- After contact with an infected person (anyone disinfecting should wear proper PPE to protect themselves)
- After anyone is in the vicinity (6 feet)
- At the end of the night before closing up
At Eco Bear, we are the disinfection experts in the area. We are here to answer your questions and help you with your disinfection services. If you know your practice has been exposed or even if you are worried about exposure, we are here to help you.
Our COVID-19 hotline is available 24/7. We are here to answer your questions and help put your mind at ease. We can also help you with disinfection services, eradicating the virus from your practice so that you can go about business as normal in our ‘new normal ways.’
Veterinary practices are essential, but protecting the health and wellness of everyone within the practice is crucial too. Make sure all employees are well-trained on the new practices and that everyone follows the new guidelines to prevent the spread of the illness by practicing proper disinfection methods throughout the practice frequently.