July 28, 2020
Dear Pet Parent,
The team at Grimsby Animal Hospital wants to thank you for your support and understanding during this challenging time and also touch base with you about some important changes that we have taken in response to the COVID-19 pandemic entering Phase 3. As you know, as essential workers, we have continued to operate since the very beginning of the pandemic. However, if you have visited the animal hospital in the last several months, you will have noticed that there have been important changes in our procedures.
COVID-19 has presented many significant challenges to us and has required us to adapt our procedures often. Our biggest single challenge has been how to continue operating as a fully-functional hospital while protecting the health of both our team and our community. We believe our mission of taking care of your pets is a critically important one. We see an average of 250-300 pets every week, so it’s very important to our community that we are able to remain open! We have instituted many measures, such as curbside service, web store for food and product delivery, strict use of PPE, social distancing, enhanced cleaning protocols, telemedicine, dividing into 2 separate teams to make sure that we can remain safe and operational. Due to current conditions of the pandemic, curbside service will remain in effect until further notice, and the building will remain closed to the public.
To make the situation even more challenging, our volume of sick-animal appointments has increased by about 50% during this time. As you can imagine, this has created considerable stress for our team, many of whom have not taken a vacation during this entire crisis. Even though our clients do not get to see what is going on inside of our building right now, we can assure you that everyone is working as hard as possible each and every day with the increased telephone calls and emails! The well-being of our team is of the utmost importance to us at Grimsby Animal Hospital!
“Why can’t I come into the building with my pet, when I can go into a grocery store or a hardware store?” This seems like a reasonable question to ask, but there are important differences in the two situations. We know that the transmission of COVID-19 between people is mostly dependent on two things, social distance and time spent in the same airspace. Grocery stores are big, open spaces, and your exposure to any particular person tends to be very short. Veterinary hospital exam rooms, by contrast, are small spaces which put people in close proximity to each other for extended periods of time. This greatly increases the chances of transmission of the virus. Some veterinary hospitals have tried to go back to business as usual, only to be shut down when several people have contracted COVID-19 in their facility!
We would kindly ask that clients don a mask when our team members come out to communicate with you in our parking lot and help us maintain social distance as much as possible.
Please be kind and understanding to our team members as they follow our protocols. We know that this is an extremely challenging time for everyone, but together we can get through it, and better times will be here before we know it! We’re all in this together!
Stay safe, and don’t forget to wear a mask!
The Grimsby Animal Hospital Team
June 17, 2020
Everyone in the Niagara Region is looking forward to Stage 2 of Ontario’s re-opening plan this coming Friday. While this may be a big step forward for many businesses who have been closed for the past 3 months, protocols will continue status quo for most veterinary practices, which includes our hospital. While we are able to continue to welcome all of our furry patients into the clinic, clients will need to continue to physically distance by patiently waiting outside in a Muskoka chair, or in their car during their pet’s appointment.
HOW COVID AFFECTED OUR ABILITY TO TREAT YOUR PETS:
Veterinary clinics are considered an ‘essential services’ and from March 17 until May 19, we continued to stay open to serve you for our regular hours, but we were restricted to only being allowed to provide care for sick or injured pets, and to dispense medications like flea/tick and heartworm products.
Starting on May 19, Stage 1 opening regulations allowed us to add in regular care for ALL patients, which included elective surgeries (spays and neuters) and vaccinations and wellness check-ups. Although Stage 2 of reopening is occurring this Friday, there are no additional changes for veterinary clinics that are any different than Stage 1.
WHY ARE ONLY PETS ABLE TO GO INSIDE?
The risk posed by COVID-19 will continue for months to come, and we have been instructed by our provincial association that veterinarians will need to continue to implement measures to minimize the risk of spread of COVID-19, associated with veterinary practice.
Social/physical distancing is critical and is considered the most important and effective approach to COVID-19 control. The overall goal of social distancing is to reduce human-to-human contact, both by reducing the incidence of contacts and reducing the closeness and duration of any required contacts.
With most veterinary clinics being quite small, it is virtually impossible for us to impose the 2 meter physical distancing that is required between clients and staff in our confined examination rooms, and amongst clients in our small reception area. No amount of plexiglass can be installed to make this a safe environment for everyone. And so, the safest measure is to continue to have clients wait outside while we restrict entry into the building to only staff and pets.
OTHER SAFETY MEASURES WE ARE IMPLEMENTING:
In addition to this, we are also keeping staff safe by working in two smaller groups to help protect our ability to continue to operate as a clinic, should one team come in contact with COVID and be required to isolate. Instead of continuing to work with our full health care team of 11 staff per day as usually scheduled pre-COVID, we have had to divide into two smaller separate teams of only 7 staff each. During our very busiest time of the year, we have found this challenging and we appreciate your patience as we do our very best to provide the same service you are used to.
We encourage you to visit our webstore, which can be found on our website https://grimsbyanimalhospital.com where you are able to order food and other pet products that are delivered directly to your home. These orders have priority over clinic delivered orders. Due to unanticipated delays that we have experienced from our supplier for medication and food, when ordering from the clinic for pick up, we recommend that you call, email or use the pet portal for food or renewal prescriptions 5-7 days in advance. Our phone lines are very busy so please consider emailing your orders.
We continue to encourage contactless payment for everyone’s safety, which is credit card over the phone or e-transfer.
Thank you for cooperating with the safely measures we have been required to implement, and we appreciate your understanding as we learn to function at the same level, but with less people.
May 19, 2020
Our phones have been ringing non-stop since Premier Doug Ford’s announcement on Thursday for the movement to ‘Phase 1’ opening.
Please be patient with us as we navigate this next stage.
Our staff has been working diligently during the past 2 months, while we were able to remain open to care for emergency and urgent cases. As restrictions to the care we can provide have suddenly been lifted, we are working as hard as we possibly can to accommodate all of our patients.
WHAT ABOUT MY PET’S CHECK UP THAT GOT CANCELLED LAST MONTH?
Many vaccination and check-up appointments that were scheduled in the past 8 weeks had to be cancelled during the ‘Lockdown Phase’. Rest assured we have recorded of all these patients on a list, and we will be working through this list to ‘catch up’ on these ‘overdue’ vaccinations first.
PLEASE DON’T CALL US regarding your pet’s annual vaccinations. We will update you as we are able to book these wellness appointments in the coming weeks. Please watch Facebook for updates.
WHAT IF I BOOKED A YEAR IN ADVANCE LAST YEAR FOR MY PET’S VACCINES AND MY APPTMT IS COMING UP SOON?
If you were one of the many that booked your pet’s vaccination appointment a year in advance last year, and if your appointment was scheduled any time after May 19, it remains in our schedule and we will look forward to seeing you as originally planned. We will be following on COVID protocol of no clients in the building though.
MY PET’S SURGERY WAS SCHEDULED LAST MONTH. NOW WHAT?
We were required to cancel all our surgeries during LOCKDOWN, which included spays, neuters, dentals, lump removals, etc. Rest assured we have recorded all these patients on our ‘surgery list’ . We also are aware of the many other puppies and kittens that are approaching 6-9 months of age and will be needing to get spayed/neutered soon. As we are able to start performing surgeries, we will be working through our list, which also includes the puppies and kittens were NOT previously booked, and we are scheduling based on priority. Please do not call us now.
WHAT WILL PHASE 1 LOOK LIKE FOR GRIMSBY ANIMAL HOSPITAL ?
Going forward, as much as we all would love for things to return to normal, the reality for most veterinary clinics is that through Phase 1 and 2, we are required to continue to maintain physical distancing, which means that clients will still not be able to come in the building. We will need to continue our curb-side service and our door will have to remain locked for several months. Please bear with us while we do our best to provide the best service we can with our limited staff and these ongoing restrictions.
Please call us from the parking lot when you arrive. Unfortunately, we are not able to stand at the doors to watch for you.
Curbside pick-up continues for call-ahead orders of food or medications.
Visit our website for more information. We have a COVID section
We have a NEW ONLINE store for ordering food and products to get delivered directly to your door. See the link on our website for the WEBSTORE.
We will be contacting clients to schedule vaccine and spay/neuter appointments. Please wait patiently for our call.
We have had to divide into 2 separate teams, which leaves us with less staff and veterinarians per shift in order to comply with COVID and social distancing. This has been challenging since we have less people to do the same amount of work each day. Please be patient.
March 25, 2020
ARE PETS AT RISK?
From what we know at this point the answer is NO. However, the surface of their fur could be a potential source of infection if an infected person coughed on them. Wash your hands and don’t touch your face.
We don’t know what the government will put in place in the upcoming days. We are hoping to remain open, even at a limited capacity. Many pets are on long term medications or special diets and we need to be available for these cases, in addition to providing service to any pets who fall ill or become injured during this time.
Currently, we are still open and want to continue to provide you with all our services which will help your pets live their best life.
In order to reduce the spread, and do our part, as of tomorrow (Wednesday March 18) we will be making the following changes regarding how our appointments are run:
1. We will not be allowing clinic access to clients. This change is extremely difficult due to our love for our clients as a part of our family, and your smiles and conversations that always brighten our day. However due to our close contact in our confined examination room space, and our limited area in reception, it is difficult to enforce social distancing, especially during busy times. The easiest way to achieve this is to not have more individuals in the clinic than necessary. We still recommend having a healthy friend of family member bring your sick pet if you are not feeling well or have traveled in the last month.
2. Please call us from your car when you arrive. We will let you know when you can bring your pet to the door for us to take them into the normal examination room to be assessed. Cats must be in carriers and dogs on a secure collar and leash.
3. A veterinarian and a registered veterinary technician will be working as a team with each patient for the entire examination.
4. Being able to speak with you is an important part of our examination. We would like to be able to speak directly with you on your cell phone during this appointment time so that we can obtain all the information that we need, and address all of your concerns; no different than if we were face to face. Although this will require more staffing on our part and will take longer, we feel this is one of the best ways to keep any potential spread of infection at bay.
5. We ask that all payments for all food, medication and services be done over the phone by credit card to avoid the repeated handling of our banking pin pad. If the pin pad is required for debit payments, we will wipe it down before and after each use. Cash is not preferred.
EMAILS & PHONE CALLS:
We have been inundated with excessive emails and phone calls with clients ordering food and medications for their pets. This has made it challenging for us to be able to reply to emails in a timely manner. We will do our best to answer all emails within 48 hours but if you have an urgent need please phone us.
At this time our hours will remain the same and we will continue to offer any veterinary care needed for our patients, focusing on ill and emergency cases as our priority.
FOOD & MEDICATION:
We are asking clients to order as they would regularly. Our supplier can not keep up with the sudden increased amount of food and medication orders. With that being said, they have made it a priority to ship medications first. Pet foods are being will be dealt with secondarily meaning it may take 3-5 days to arrive. Our supplier has doubled their staff but are hoping clinics will order as they normally would, and not excessively. We have all intentions of being available for orders and veterinary services throughout the coming weeks. Reminder that our regular protocol for reorder medication is to contact us at least 48 hours before needing the refill.
Please call us from your car and we will bring your food and/or medications to the clinic entrance. Payment must be done ahead of time, preferably over the phone by credit card.
Thank you for your understanding and we appreciate your cooperation in helping us decrease person to person contact, while allowing us to continue to care for our patients.
Your Health Care Team at Grimsby Animal Hospital
Update from the College of Veterinarians of Ontario – April 1st
The College of Veterinarians of Ontario recognizes that pet and animal owners are concerned about the potential implications of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on the well-being of their animals. Although veterinary services are described as an essential business in Ontario, it is not “business as usual” for your veterinarian.
If your veterinary clinic is open, the College has recommended veterinarians use their best judgment to determine those services they can safely provide during this public health emergency. Priority will be given to essential services. You should contact your clinic for information on how to access their services at this time.
Is it safe to take my pet to the veterinarian during COVID-19 pandemic?
The public is encouraged to be responsible and avoid exposing veterinarians, clinic staff, and veterinary clinics and hospitals to COVID-19. The College expects that veterinarians follow all public recommendations and stay attentive to infection control and biosecurity protocols to safeguard employees and clients.
When you contact the clinic or your veterinarian, they can discuss your concerns about your animal’s health and determine whether your animal should be seen in person by a veterinarian. Do not take your pet to the clinic if you are ill. Please ensure you engage in all public health measures (hand washing, social distancing, call before you visit, refrain from leaving your house if you are ill, etc.) to support the continued availability of safe veterinary services in Ontario.
TELELMEDICINE is an option:
Veterinarians are taking additional measures during COVID to provide services safely. Your veterinarian has been encouraged to use telemedicine to consult with clients; complete patient triage outside of the clinic or hospital; and postponing elective procedures. Again, trust your veterinarian’s judgment on the services they can provide during the limitations encountered by the current public health emergency.
For more information:
Worms and Germs Blog –– For further information on risks you may wish to keep in mind regarding your pets and the COVID-19 pandemic, visit the Worms and Germs Blog, published by the University of Guelph’s Centre for Public Health and Zoonoses
Please check out our website for all our COVID communications. Access to our new webstore with 3000 items is available there as well.
WebStore info: March 26
Now that so many of you are staying home in light of current events, we’ve made it even easier for you to shop for your furry family members! You can now enjoy the benefits of home delivery of your pet’s products and diets, as well as a wide variety of non-prescription items for dogs, cats, and pocket pets. By following this link, you will be able to set up an account.
myVETstore will soon be accessible through our website, simply scroll down and click “Order Online”!
In addition to searching new products for your pets, the website has a Favourites tab which allows you to easily access your frequent purchases and special orders. After making your selection you can have your order delivered right to your door for a flat rate shipping cost of $10.
If you’d like to make things even more convenient, AutoOrder allows you to have things delivered to your home automatically, you simply need to choose how often you would like to receive certain products. By signing up for AutoOrder you can even save money as many manufacturers offer a discount for this service. AutoOrder can be edited or cancelled at any time. Treating your furry family members has never been easier!
Mar 27 Telemedicine
To help keep you home, and decrease our contact with both clients and patients, it is helpful that our Regulatory Governing Body has made some temporary changes to the strict rules that we are required to follow on a daily basis. For the next few weeks/months, now we will be allowed to do some consultations over the phone with you and your pet, so that you can ‘stay at home’ as much possible. This will be challenging for our veterinarians, since our patients cannot talk and a hands-on physical examination is necessary to confidently be able to diagnose their ailments and pain level. However, we are going to do the best that we can give our constraints.
Phone consultations will only be available for ‘simpler problems’ where we may not absolutely HAVE to physically touch/visualize/treat the patient. Our team members will be doing their best to triage phone calls and decide which patients may be candidates for a phone consultation. These will be scheduled just like regular office consultations and will be made available at a slightly reduced cost. After payment has been received (see below) a veterinarian will phone you at a specified time. Photos and videos that you can email/text in ahead of your appointment time, or the use of FaceTime or ZOOM are potential ways to help make this as effective as possible. There are limited conditions that we will be able to offer this for, as most patients will likely still need to come into the office for a full physical examination/ blood samples/ x-rays/ treatments. Should you be triaged for a phone consultation (ie. telemedicine) but the veterinarian is unable to come to a diagnosis and/or treatment plan at this distance, it may be recommended that you physically bring your pet to the office after all. Please work with us as we venture into this new type of ‘distance medicine’.