Dr. Claire DeChristina of Chalet Veterinary Clinic, said she never realized how much pets read human’s facial expressions – until she had to wear a facemask all day long.
“You learn to take things a little slower, use your voice encouragingly and focus more on eye contact than facial expressions,” DeChristina said.
As COVID-19 spread across the state and country, veterinary clinics in Stoughton have adapted practices to serve clients’ needs in an era of social distancing and Safer at Home orders. That included wearing masks in the office, canceling all nonessential services and instituting curbside services.
For curbside appointments, clients wait in their cars while the pet and clinic staff complete the appointment inside. At Stoughton Veterinary Services, the client is put on speaker phone while their pet is in the examination room so the veterinarian can communicate with the client.
Chalet also uses the telephone to communicate with the client in their car and is exploring telemedicine options, where clients can watch their pet be examined virtually, DeChristina said; however, no plans to launch that service are in place yet.
The clients appreciate the clinic still being able to serve their pets, Julie Erdmann, Stoughton Veterinary Services manager, told the Hub.
Erdmann has worked at Stoughton Veterinary Services for 14 years and said that although the curbside services are smooth, she still stops at her desk and thinks, “this is so weird.”
Any of the changes Erdmann has made are being done to keep herself and her staff, as well as clients, safe from spreading COVID-19.
“Nobody ever thinks that this is something you’d experience in your lifetime,” she said. “You read about it in the history books.”
Erdmann said staff has had no delays in lab results, medication delivery or supplies. Chalet hasn’t been quite so lucky, dealing with a shortage of surgery masks.
“We’ve taken the step of making our own cloth masks,” DeChristina said. “We reuse the mask in surgery if it does not get soiled.”
DeChrisina said that although there are some risks, she is happy the clinic is open.
“We want to be there to make sure pets don’t get in trouble and we can provide the services that need to be provided,” DeChrisina said.