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Tips for making curbside check-ins safer (and easier) for everyone

2020-4-30 Curbside tips - blog.jpg

(Photo of Smokey being cared for by Pawsitive Wellness Veterinary Care staff while Smokey’s owner Nancy watches through the window. Photo by Andria Saxon, used by permission)

Although some states are preparing to relax social distancing guidelines, curbside check-ins are likely to continue for most hospitals for some time.

And since curbside check-ins have been part of the new normal for the past few weeks (and because our profession has the most innovative problem solvers), NEWStat figured some hospitals have probably found faster, better, and safer ways to do them. So we put out a call on AAHA’s Accredited Member Facebook page asking members to send us their hospital’s best curbside tips, genius hacks, and why-didn't-I-think-of-that workarounds to share with their AAHA colleagues.

Feel free to borrow any and all.

Get pets into the practice safely. “We installed transfer kennels at the front of our clinic,” said Abbey Hobbs, office manager at AAHA-accredited Summer Street Animal Clinic in Burlington, Iowa. “Client puts their pet in on one side; we can then open a door on the other side and take the pet in. We just used kennels from our boarding area since we aren’t doing much boarding these days.”

The process is the same for feline patients: “We require all cats to be in a carrier, so our clients just place the carrier in the kennel, and then we can come out and grab it,” said Hobbs.

Let clients watch exams through a window. “We use our portable gurney to do patient exams in our front window,” wrote Andria Saxon, CVT, CVPM, practice manager at AAHA-accredited Pawsitive Wellness Veterinary Care in Eugene, Oregon. “We have a patio table with two chairs (all sprayed down with [disinfectant] between visits) right outside the window. We’re on speakerphone the whole time for every exam; it’s as if the client is right there with us. Most of our clients keep their credit cards on file through [a secure, cloud-based payment service], so we never touch a credit card anymore.”

Have details in hand before the client arrives. Karin-Susan Brietlauch, DVM, owner and founder of AAHA-accredited Creature Comforts Veterinary Service in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, said her hospital uses a special nonprinting form for curbside check-ins that makes note of time-saving details such as which family member’s cell phone is the primary phone in the car, and the make, model, and color of the client’s vehicle. “We also have a chart of all of the major car brand insignias posted in our main area.”

Make use of what you already have. Lauren Dell, DVM, owner of Cat Vet of Hebron in Hebron, Kentucky, wrote, “We have a pharmacy pick-up window and a credit card terminal with a long cord to pass outside. We are wrapping it in food-service cling wrap and changing [it] between clients. If clients are doing curbside and using a debit card, we just have them drive around to the pick-up window.”

Head over to the AAHA-Accredited Members Facebook page for more tips and to add your own.

Anthony Merkle, CVT, regional manager for AAHA’s Member Experience team and a former practice consultant, was blown away by the resourcefulness of the posted tips.

“It’s inspiring to see the ingenuity that our members have in adapting to this constantly changing environment,” he told NEWStat. “I’m beyond proud of the essential workers in our AAHA-accredited hospitals for coming up with these fantastic ideas to reflect the standard of exceptional veterinary care.”

And Lauren Dell even had a tip for us here at AAHA to keep curbside staffers out of the sun: logoed umbrellas. (Or was that shade . . . ?)

If you’re an accredited member, join the AAHA-Accredited Members Facebook Page for more great peer support, tips, and advice on helping your hospital cope with the COVID-19 crisis. And as always, contact your Member Experience representative with any COVID-19 questions you have.