Local veterinary clinics adjust appointments to slow the spread of COVID-19

SPOKANE, Wash. — COVID-19 has forced so many businesses to overhaul the way they do business and veterinarians across the state are not immune to that change.

Local clinics like SouthCare Animal Medical Center and Hunter Veterinary Clinic have both shifted to curbside appointments to care for clients and their pets at a safe distance. Veterinarians at each clinic tell 4 News Now they are trying to cut down on how many people come in and out of their offices each day.

Patients will make appointments as usual, only when they show up, an assistant will meet them at their car to pick up their pet and take them inside for their exam. Staff at Hunter Veterinary Clinic will perform their exam, then call their clients to go over the specifics of the visit. SouthCare utilizes an app to stay in touch with clients in real time.

“[We’ll] speak with them through this AirVet app, so that way they can actually talk, see the pet, ask the doctor questions during that exam and have a virtual exam,” says SouthCare practice manager Laurel Brewster.

Not only are clinics cutting down on patients, they are cutting down on procedures, too. Much like other doctors and nurses, local vets are holding off on elective surgeries for as long as possible. Instead, they will focus on emergency cases and preventing illness with vaccinations.

“We’re trying to avoid the ones that aren’t crucial, they don’t have to get in, they’re not going to have a major side effect from doing it,” says Dr. Mark Schrag at Hunter Veterinary Clinic. “We’ll be better off just kind of minimizing how much contact we have.”

Staff at both SouthCare and Hunter Veterinary Clinic say they are trying to do their part to combat the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) for doctors and nurses in the area. They tell 4 News Now they are rationing as much as they can and when they absolutely need PPE, they will use cloth masks as much as possible, which are different than what is needed in hospitals across the region and country.