I have seen a lot in my 24+ years as a veterinarian. I have seen clients and team members at their absolute best. I have been privileged to celebrate the addition of a new furry friend, celebrate saving a life and celebrate curing or controlling a devastating disease. And I have been privileged to hug and cry with those same clients and team members during some of the worst moments in their lives when losing a pet or suffering some other tragedy. One thing that has remained a constant during the ups and downs has been our ability to connect, one on one, face to face. We have become a family.
So, when the pandemic hit, we were robbed of our ability to do what we do and robbed of connecting the way we all like to connect. And it hurts deeply.
Overnight, we had to completely re-invent everything about how we operate to keep our team and our clients safe. All while still being able to provide care for your pets. And we have had to do this with very little guidance. Overnight, our world turned into uncertainty. The uncertainty of how we would be able to provide veterinary care or even if we would be able to provide veterinary care became a daily struggle.
As the weeks have passed, we have adopted so many new ways of practice. We practice curbside medicine. We wear full PPE all day long, and not just when we come to the car to escort your pet into the building. No, we wear full PPE in the building as well. We clean and sanitize even more diligently than we did in the past. Daily we discuss and adjust protocols and procedures. We discuss successes and struggles. We discuss the comments we hear from you, our valued clients. More often than not, we hear your understanding for why we cannot allow you in the building and appreciation that we are still here to help pets.
We also hear your frustration at not being able to come in the building, at longer hold times or more difficulty reaching us by phone as our call volume has more than tripled, and at not being able to get the appointment day or time that you want.
Our decision to continue curbside is for our safety as well as yours. We are a small team of dedicated people who love your pet almost as much as you do. We have team members who are at higher risk for COVID or live with people at higher risk. We cannot help pets if we get sick. We cannot help pets if we must stay home to care for a loved one who is sick. So, we follow the recommendations from the CDC, from the AVMA and from our local health department.
We would be even more limited in our ability to help pets if we allowed clients in the building. Keeping a 6’ distance would be extremely difficult and every room, every area would have to be heavily sanitized after each appointment even more.
We know it can be stressful for you and for your pet by not being present during their appointment. Please know they are receiving the best care possible while in our building. I am often asked if we treat pets differently because a pet owner is not present. The answer is YES… we DO treat pets differently when you are not present. We spend more time petting, soothing and cuddling your pet. We talk to them more, we tell them how special they are, how handsome, how brave. We give them treats; we get down on the floor. We let them sit in our laps. We let them “help” type in their notes. We would feel foolish if we behaved this way in front of you.
Our team has worked harder than ever during this pandemic. Through constant procedural changes, through curbside appointments, in the blistering AZ summer heat. Everything about our curbside procedures takes longer. And our team does this every day with compassion and professionalism. Every person comes to work every day to do what they love – to help improve the life of your pet, and hope to help improve your life as well by helping keep your pet healthy.
We thank you for your understanding. We thank you for your patience. We thank you for your kindness. And we thank you for your compassion. And we all look forward to the day when we can welcome you back into our building, back into our home.
Dr. Melinda Striyle