IMPORTANT CHANGES TO SERVICE PROTOCOLS IN RESPONSE TO COVID-19 -- PLEASE READ CAREFULLY
Niagara Veterinary Emergency Clinic provides an important, essential service for the pets, pet owners, and regular veterinarians across Niagara. We want to be able to continue to provide immediate emergency care and support to our clients and their furry family members during the COVID crisis; however, we will only be able to do so as long as our team members remain healthy. We are in unprecedented times, and things are changing day to day. Many businesses, services, schools and workplaces are closing around us, and our community is encouraged to self-isolate right now and avoid any essential reasons to be out in the public.
We know that getting care for your sick or injured pet is an essential service to pet owners, and we will remain open to provide that service. We will continue to provide the highest level of health care for your pets. However, we must now balance the requirement to protect the health and safety of our team members and clients, with our ability to provide the simplest, fastest, and most comfortable level of customer service that we normally strive for. As always, we rigorously follow infection prevention, control and hygiene best practices in our hospital. We have increased both the frequency and scope of hospital cleaning and disinfecting to help ensure both clients and our team are kept safe. We work closely with our team to ensure that anyone who is not feeling well understands that we support them staying home. Our team members care deeply for the clients and pets that we serve and it will be challenging for us to change how we operate, but the health of our team must be paramount if we going to able to continue to operate. These changes will also protect our clients from any unnecessary or inadvertent social contact.
Beginning Tuesday, March 17, we will be instituting new protocols for serving our clients and your pets. Unfortunately, this will increase waiting times for non-critical patients and will make the communication process between you and our team members more challenging in terms of exchanging information, completing paperwork, and processing payment. We ask for your understanding, patience, flexibility and co-operation as we navigate this new landscape. We expect at things progress, it is likely we may be short staffed, and together with the additional work required by these protocols, we expect that we will not be able to deal with the customer service side of things as quickly as we would like. These changes are temporary and we hope that our world returns to normal in the near future.
We are making the following, pre-emptive changes to the way we deliver our care and services:
The interior of our hospital building will be off limits to clients in all but the most critical cases. Where clients are permitted in the building, you will be asked to maintain a minimum of 3 feet distance from our team members, as per the social distancing guidelines, and will be asked to go directly to the examination room and to remain in that room at all times. You will find hand sanitizer in the examination room and we ask that you use it immediately when you enter the room. We may also limit the number of clients to one person per pet, depending on the circumstances and will ask that you limit any personal items being brought into the hospital with you. Our team will be wearing personal protective equipment and will need to maintain appropriate social distancing, and may remind you to do the same. We realize this will be distressing for some clients, and detracts from the personal and compassionate care we take pride in providing, but it is imperative to protect your health and the health of our team.
For pet owners and families making the difficult decision to euthanize their pet, please contact us in advance to discuss how we can best assist your
family. We normally allow unlimited family members and as much time as needed to say goodbye to your pets, but we may have to operate differently out of necessity. We would rather you are aware of that ahead of time so you can make arrangements that suit your family and can ensure that everyone has the opportunity needed to spend final time with their furry family member.
Please call our hospital at 905-641-3185 prior to coming in so we can advise you about our new protocols and what to expect when you arrive.
When you arrive at our hospital please call us at 905-641-3185 from your vehicle and a team member will communicate with you about when to bring your pet to the door. We have a double set of doors with a vestibule in between and there is an intercom phone in that area. Please do
not enter the front doors until you are advised, or if there are other clients in that area. We will post a sign when the area is clean and free to enter.
Please use the intercom or your cell phone to communicate with our team while there. (If you do not have a cell phone, please use the intercom, but wait until the vestibule is free and clean). Our team member will ask you to step back or out (depending on the state/temperament of your pet) when they
come to bring your pet into the hospital to be examined. Please attempt to keep the minimum 3 feet of distance between yourself and our team member at all times. Please return to your vehicle once your pet in inside so the entrance is free to be cleaned for the next client. We will take your information and medical history by phone, and the doctor will discuss treatment options plans with you by phone. You may be asked to come back to the entrance to review/discuss/sign forms.
If needed, forms will be slid under the door and there will be a pen in the entrance for you to use to sign and slide back the form. Payment can be taken using our wireless point-of-sales terminal which our team can leave in the entrance for you. If you wish to make cash payments, we can slide an envelope under the door. We are also able to accept e-transfers.
To protect our clients, we will be disinfecting the entrance area between each client, including the intercom phone, the pen, and our point-of-sales
terminal. Any examination room used by clients will be disinfected immediately. During busier times, overnights, and when we are short staff, there may
be a delay between clients to allow for time to clean this area. Please respect the signage about whether this area is clean, for your own protection.
This is obviously not how we would prefer to operate our business, and unfortunately there will be some delays and inconvenience. We sincerely appreciate your patience and understanding.
*** If you are feeling unwell, have traveled out of the country in the past 14 days, if someone in your immediate family has traveled out of the country in the past 14 days, have a fever, respiratory symptoms, have COVID-19 or have been exposed to someone that may have symptoms suspicious for COVID-19, please do not come to our hospital. Rather, please call us so that we can discuss alternatives for having your pet transported for care and so that we can liaise directly with the care giver who will be bringing your pet in.
We encourage everyone to follow the Public Health Agency of Canada (https://www.canada.ca/…/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection.ht…),
the World Health Organization (https://www.who.int/emergen…/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019), and the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (https://wsava.org/…/the-new-coronavirus-and-companion-anim…/) for the most up-to-date and accurate information about COVID-19.
These measures may seem extreme at this time, but we are communicating with our member clinics, and monitoring best practices at other hospitals, and working hard to take the most proactive measures we can to ensure that we will be able to continue to operate; particularly, as there may be an increased need for our services if other clinics are forced to close.
Please help us to keep our team, their families, our clients, and our community a safer place.