Clients have been asking us why they are experiencing longer lead times for wellness appointments. The answer is that the same things that have impacted other sectors of the economy, an increased demand
for services and a decrease in the available labor to provide those services, have negatively impacted wait times.
The pandemic brought us many firsts and in veterinary medicine we saw a significant increase in pet ownership. In the early months of the pandemic companion veterinary practices were permitted to be open as essential workers but were limited to providing emergency care, sick animal exams and vaccinations for rabies only. Elective procedures such as spays, neuters and dental cleanings were prohibited in case human health care workers would need gloves, gowns, masks, oxygen, and drugs from our supply reserves. We were also instructed to socially distance ourselves and our clients by employing staggered work shifts, limit client interaction and schedule fewer appointments across the workday. As restrictions were lifted, veterinary practices worked through the backlog of elective procedures and wellness exams while still maintaining a safe work environment.
In New York state all businesses are presently operating under protocols to protect staff and clients from airborne infectious disease per the HERO Act that was enacted in early September. Because six feet of social distancing is not always feasible inside Croton Animal Hospital, our protocol includes universal masking, a single family member attending each patient exam and staggered appointments.
We have done our best to adapt our schedule to meet the increased demand for services while keeping our staff and clients safe. Elective appointment wait times are longer than usual because we have “sick pet” and “emergency” appointment slots built into our schedule. These are used to accommodate clients that call for urgent needs such as a vomiting pet, or a painful ear infection or a pet that has injured its leg and may have a fracture. These appointment slots are often filled within the first 30 minutes after we open, especially after a weekend or holiday. Additional calls from clients with urgent requests for examinations that day are treated as emergency examinations and an additional fee is quoted for the visit. We have found this to be an equitable solution as there are additional inherent costs for staff to work through lunch or stay late to accommodate clients who want to be seen.
We are always willing to discuss our protocols and policies with you should you have questions or concerns. We all hope for a return to what used to be normal daily life but until there is lower community spread of Covid allowing for the lifting of the HERO Act, our operations will continue in this fashion to keep our clients and staff safe. We truly appreciate your patience and understanding.