With six weeks behind us, we can finally take a minute to reflect on where we’ve been, where we are and where we may be going. I look at COVID-19’s impact on veterinary practice as taking place in three phases. Phase one took place the last couple of weeks of March and was entirely reactive. Phase two is underway now, the new business as (un)usual. Phase three is on the horizon. I’m calling Phase three “The surge.” As an admitted optimist, I know we need to plan for the worst, but I’m predicting the best. Who’s with me?
As I think back to weeks one and two, which seems like forever ago, we were purely in a reactive mode, as was our entire planet. Reactive is not a place most of us like to be. In this reactive phase one of COVID veterinary practice, we held our breath waiting to learn if our beloved profession was to be designated as essential. We all knew we were essential, but would state governors agree? Thankfully, and likely in part due to the tragedies for both pets and people that were learned during Hurricane Katrina, we were included as essential. Whew.
Next came stay-at-home orders to limit contact. We quickly developed curbside safety measures prohibiting clients from entering our practices, enhanced biosecurity measures and new standard operating procedures. Then came gubernatorial directives designed to spare personal protective equipment (PPE) for our colleagues on the human side. We adapted to reusing caps, masks, gowns and even gloves in some cases. We further came up with innovative means to manufacture our own PPE. Many of us then donated PPE and ventilators to our human health care colleagues.