Spay/neuter and animal wellness clinics have not been immune to the challenges caused by COVID-19. Since we don’t know exactly when the pandemic will end, we at Florida Animal Friend wanted to provide practical COVID-19 preparedness tips for the staff of these types of organizations. If that’s you, look no further!
Top Tips: Keep Your Operation Running Smoothly During the Pandemic
Veterinarians and other industry experts from all over the country have compiled and reviewed this collaborative guide that offers tons of actionable advice your organization can use right now. The document covers everything from staff safety and support to physical capacity considerations and inventory management. We’ve extracted some of the key COVID-19 preparedness tips for you here, but the entire document is invaluable for any spay/neuter or wellness clinic.
Staff Safety & Support
True, animals are your patients. But the health and safety of your staff should be the number one priority of any COVID-19 preparedness plan. Here are some suggestions to keep in mind:
- Follow state and local guidelines for testing and self-quarantine of employees
- Ask employees to take their temperature in the morning voluntarily and to not report to work if they have a fever (Note: roughly only 50% of infected people do)
- Provide team check-ins at the start of the day to cover roles, worries, strategies and challenges
- Have a back-up staff on call for sick employees so you can continue to operate
These are all great ideas, and the guide includes further best practices on topics like protocols for when a staff member contracts COVID-19 and how to conduct training while social distancing.
Capacity for Care
Your clinic’s capacity for surgical care will depend heavily on the size and layout of your space. However, every organization should take into account the steps that others have taken to maximize efficiency and safety. For example, ideally each workstation should have one primary staff member assigned to each function (e.g., intubation, surgery table & recovery). Other things you might consider are as follows:
- Keep staff six feet apart and not facing one another; if distancing is impossible, additional personal protective equipment (PPE) may be required
- Put up plexiglass or washable shower curtains between prep table stations
- Avoid sharing equipment like stethoscopes; consider purchasing additional supplies for staff to avoid shared equipment (e.g., hair clippers, scrub solution bottles and positioning trays)
- Mark out one-way traffic patterns wherever possible to discourage staff from crossing paths in close proximity
- Mark out six-foot distances on the floor in key areas
- Consider whether you can feasibly relocate or open new intake/recovery areas and workstations to use space outside of the usual clinic
Surgical Supplies & PPE
These are the two things you really don’t want to run out of at a spay/neuter or wellness clinic. To ensure that you have what you need to serve your patients at any given time, follow these best practices:
- Take inventory of surgical supplies and calculate how many patients the clinic can serve with what is on hand
- Expect ongoing shortages of surgical masks, surgical gloves, disposable drape material, disposable gowns and anesthetic drugs; plan accordingly
- Consider opening accounts with multiple suppliers, such as MWI, Patterson and Midwest to increase access to supplies
- Do not schedule appointments until you have the supplies to serve those animals
- Ensure that all staff have PPE and that cloth masks are always worn in the clinic around others
- Provide face shields for staff to wear while transporting large dogs within the clinic, drawing blood, trimming nails, giving vaccines, handling emergencies or any other activity that requires multiple staff members to work together at close range
Reference this COVID-19 preparedness guide for more in-depth information on relevant topics, such as anesthetic considerations and curbside intake to client communications and contactless payment.
Support Florida Animal Friend’s Mission
What if you don’t work at a clinic yourself but still want to support organizations doing great work (and of course, the animals they help)? Our mission here at Florida Animal Friend is to help save the lives of countless unwanted cats and dogs by supporting organizations that offer free or low-cost spay and neuter services across Florida. Purchase one of our Florida license plates or donate today!