Winter Curbside Strategies for Veterinary Clinics

October 14, 2020
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Winter Curbside Care Veterinary VHA BlogAs COVID continues to spread, many veterinary clinics are planning to continue curbside services into winter. However, with how harsh our winters are here, you may be wondering the best ways to continue curbside care while keeping your patients, clients, and staff safe, or if it’s best to start allowing clients back into the clinic.

Here are some strategies you may want to consider as we enter the colder months:

Continuing Curbside Care

  • Turn all forms digital so that clients can remain in their vehicle while completing the forms. These forms can be emailed to your clients or housed on your website.
  • Consider telemedicine services such as PetPro Connect or Virtuwoof. This will allow you to maintain personal interactions with your clients while they are safe at home with their pets or waiting in their vehicles at the clinic.
  • Accept payments over the phone or online. This reduces the time your staff is spending outdoors and decreases the chances of accidental slips and falls. 
  • Provide winter gear for staff who are going to and from cars for patients, including waterproof parkas, hats, gloves, mittens, reflective vests, etc. You can even have these branded for your clinic!
  • If you’d rather, you can also ask clients to bring patients to the front door while wearing a mask.
  • Have five-gallon pails with reflector poles and signs and filled with sand to indicate parking spots so that when snow flies, your signs are not covered.
  • Shovel sidewalks frequently and use pet-safe salt to ensure safe walking paths.
  • Encourage more drop-off appointments so that clients aren’t waiting in their cars for long periods of time, possibly clogging up your parking areas.
  • Create an outdoor waiting area with a pop-up canopy or carport, heaters, and festive lights to help with the mood. You could even offer hot chocolate or coffee while they wait!
  • Have a little fun with the season by hosting a snowman building contest while clients wait. Great for if clients had to bring children with!

Allowing Clients Inside

  • If you are going to allow clients inside, set up your lobby chairs so everyone is socially distanced. Require that clients wear a mask and limit the number of clients in the lobby by 50%.
  • You can ask clients to wait in the lobby while you take their pet back to the exam room. If there is a treatment area, you could stage clients in the exam rooms but complete the exam in the treatment area.
  • If you have a vestibule or side door, complete food and medicine pick-ups there. Better yet, utilize your online pharmacy to its fullest extent by promoting home delivery. If you don’t have an online pharmacy, consider Vetsource!
  • Have clients come in one door and go out another, if possible. This allows you to manage the number of people in your clinic and the flow of traffic.
  • Stagger appointments inside to avoid cross-traffic and waiting.
  • Install plexiglass shields on the reception desk.
  • Utilize wireless credit card terminals so that clients can pay at their vehicle or staged in the exam room before leaving, limiting the number of people in the lobby.

Check out Curbside in the Cold, an article recently published by AAHA for additional ideas, too!

As you continue to modify your curbside services as we move towards the winter months, be sure to update your clients every step of the way. Update your website with a pop-up alerting visitors to new curbside procedures, share the updates on social media, email your clients with the updates, and if you utilize an on-hold messaging service like PawsTime, announce the procedures there, too.

Are there other things you think we should suggest? Send us an email to sonken@veterinaryha.org and we will include your tip in the blog with a shout-out to your clinic. We are all in this together, so if there is anything that VHA can do to further support your clinic, don’t hesitate to let us know. Stay safe and healthy!