I worked in the animal ER today. Veterinary emergency hospitals have been BUSY places for the last 15-16 months and today was no exception. Like many other businesses, we are still in the process of determining HOW and WHEN to re-open to our clients. What shocks me is the continued pushback and vitriol from some clients to our decision to keep providing curbside service even when “mask mandates” and other health proclamations have been lifted. Last night, one client posted on social media that he didn’t understand why we won’t just “open up”. This morning, at the ER, a lady tried to push her way past our employee to try and get into the building and I am currently listening to a woman berate one of our client service representatives because the appointments we have available won’t work for her…what’s going on??
I thought it might be helpful to outline what happens in the majority of animal emergency rooms as well as veterinary clinics. First, let’s address WHY some veterinary clinics aren’t fully open to the public yet. Veterinary staffs are often comprised of a younger demographic and this means that our staff were among the LAST to be offered vaccinations as they became available. Determining how to safely open and protect non-vaccinated individuals requires careful consideration.
Next, veterinary staffs are not large! Even missing just one employee can challenge the work flow of the day and if multiple people are out because of the need to quarantine, you won’t be able to get your pet seen at all! Keeping our staff safe is a priority and we all want to make sure we are here…for your pets and for you!
If your veterinarian’s office has opened up, they might still require masks in the building. Remember that a veterinarian’s exam room is often MUCH smaller than what you see in a typical human physician’s office. Plus, in most cases, it’s just you and your doctor when you have your exam done. In the case of our pets, there might be you (the owner), the veterinarian, and often a veterinary technician or assistant to help with restraint of your pet. That’s three people in a room that is most often no larger than 6 x 8 feet! That makes social distancing a big challenge and, therefore, masks become more important.
Finally, it’s really crucial to recall that veterinarians are often small business owners and they are making decisions like this based on what’s best for them and for their staff’s well-being. That is their choice and even if closely related businesses (a human physician) or other establishments in the area are saying “no mask”, it doesn’t mean your veterinarian needs to follow suit. Just as they are free to say “we aren’t ready to open to the public” or “we ask that you wear a mask”, you are free to continue to use that veterinarian or seek care elsewhere. As I stated in another post, I went to a Subway restaurant recently and they still required a mask for service. I made a choice…I put on a mask and got my food. I could have chosen to go elsewhere if I wanted. What I DIDN’T do was get mad, berate their employees, or try to force my way in.
Bottom line? Veterinarians and their teams, for the most part, do want you back in the hospitals because communication is easier and, honestly, most of us enjoy getting to know you, the client. But our teams have worked hard, worked long, and been stretched three ways to Sunday over these past 15-18 months and they don’t deserve the abuse. #BringGoodEnergy to your veterinary visit, ask what you can do to help make things go more smoothly, and work with us to get everything “back to normal.”