Thoughts on the Coronavirus Pandemic – Part 1
I debated about writing some clichéd blog post about the coronavirus pandemic, given that we’re all rapidly reaching the saturation point. But this is a lifestyle blog, and everyone’s lifestyle has been altered by it. Plus, like everyone stuck at home, I’m bored as hell and I might as well write.
I am fortunate. So far, the impact of this pandemic on my life has been minimal. I am a retiree; I don’t have a job, so I don’t have to be concerned with job security. For this, I am very grateful. If I were still the owner of my cat hospital, it would be an entirely different ballgame. Veterinary hospitals have had to quickly adapt to the new landscape, and I’m impressed with how smart and creative my profession has responded to this crisis. I am the administrator of the University of Florida Veterinary School Class of “88 Facebook group, and I asked my classmates to share tips on how they’re dealing with the pandemic. Most veterinary hospitals have closed their waiting rooms and are requiring that clients quickly drop off their pets at the front desk, or directly from their vehicles. Most vet clinics have eliminated all walk-ins, requiring people to call ahead for things like picking up food, supplies, or medication, so that it is ready when the owner arrives.
For veterinary hospitals still seeing appointments, many have set aside a full 15 minutes between appointments so that they can thoroughly disinfect the exam room afterward. Those are the more obvious changes. There are some things that most of us never even thought much about, but now we have to. For example, insisting on electronic payments only, so there’s no handling of cash. Reducing the need for signatures should be the new pandemic normal. (Vets usually require signatures for client consent for surgery, treatment, etc., Now, documenting verbal consent is going to have to be an acceptable alternative. Or, if signatures are needed, ask the client to bring their own pen.) Sick veterinary staff need to stay at home. Telemedicine should be instituted whenever possible. Many follow-ups and consults can be done remotely, especially now that people can routinely send photographs and videos via email or text. These are all smart, practical changes, and I would be doing all of these things if I was still in practice. I am so glad, though, that I don’t have to think about this anymore. The job was stressful enough without having this additional layer of panic on top of it all. I applaud the veterinarians, veterinary technicians, and everyone in the industry.
Social media, which I have a love-hate relationship with, has been pretty helpful for staying in touch with my little veterinary community. Besides my vet school classmates, I stay in touch with my technician Hiromi, who keeps me updated with what’s going on at my old hospital, and I’m good friends with one of the receptionists there, Matt. Currently, Matt is self-quarantining at home, as he very likely has a mild case of the virus. His husband seems to have acquired it from a coworker and Matt has a mild case as well. Neither of them have taken the test, as their signs are mild and they’d rather not use a test when others need it more than they do. I’ve been thinking about my clients during this pandemic. One of the things I enjoyed about being in practice was the ability I had to reassure people about their pets when they were worried. I miss that now.
PS: Watch out for those toilet paper scams out there. These rolls leave much to be desired.