Inside AAHA May 2023

AAHA treasurer Dermot Jevens, MVB, DACVS, discusses the importance of having a team that is well-prepared to face any type of emergency or disaster. AAHA Community discusses the best ways to handle inactive clients and pets.

View from the Board

Be Prepared for Anything

It’s hard to ignore the fact that disasters have been impacting many teams and communities lately. From natural disasters to horrific events like mass shootings, we know it is only a matter of time before something impacts us or one of our colleagues. We can choose to ignore this or decide to be proactive on behalf of our teams.

While it’s critically important to train and have policies and procedures in place for specific disasters such as hurricanes if we live in a coastal community, or active shooters anywhere in the country, the reality is that no two disasters are created equal. No amount of training around a specific disaster will allow us to anticipate all the specific challenges we face when disaster hits. However, there are two things that we can state with a reasonable level of certainty.

  1. Having a clear understanding of the roles and responsibilities of all team members is critical if we are to successfully navigate any challenge.
  2. While the specific disasters we may face are infinite, the number of different aspects of our hospital operations that will be impacted is finite and can be categorized into specific areas on which different members of our team can focus during a disaster.

This approach to crisis management involves placing just as much emphasis on preparing for a specific crisis such as a hurricane, as it does understanding individual responsibilities and roles during any crisis. The reason why developing this mindset is so important is that disasters are unpredictable and chaotic. When a disaster strikes, people tend to panic, and it can be challenging to keep things organized and under control.

Each member of the team should know what their responsibilities are, and what others are responsible for. When the person tasked with communicating with clients knows that other teammates are focused on other equally important challenges such as team safety, communicating with emergency services, reestablishing practice infrastructure, securing equipment and supplies, addressing needs for immediate funding, etc., they can focus on the task at hand.

A well-prepared team also knows who will oversee the entire team during the crisis. They know that this person will need others to be executing on the many tasks at hand so that they can have the necessary time to collect information from their team, coordinate efforts, make well-informed decisions quickly, and provide clear, effective updates to the entire team.

I challenge you to work with your team on developing a mindset around disaster preparedness and management in general. Because at its core, disaster preparedness is not solely about preparing for a specific situation, it is about building effective teams that are empowered to tackle any disaster that might arise.

Dermot Jevens, MVB, DACVS
Dermot Jevens, MVB, DACVS, is secretary/treasurer on the AAHA board. A 1987 graduate of University College Dublin in Ireland, Jevens practiced in Connecticut and Pennsylvania before moving to South Carolina in 1997 to found Upstate Veterinary Specialists. He is currently CEO of AcharaVet.



This month in AAHA’s Publicity Toolbox . . .

Here are the downloadable social media images available for AAHA-accredited members at this month:Publicity Toolbox: Social media images available for May

  • Arthritis Awareness Month
  • May 3: National Specially-Abled Pets Day
  • May 14: Happy Mother’s Day
  • May 29: Happy Memorial Day




Q: “What are some of the best ways to handle inactive clients and pets?”

I am definitely not new to customer service but am new to handling the topic of inactive clients and pets. Is there a best practice or standard? I have sent a “we haven’t seen you” letter noting that after 18 months we consider you inactive. Should I use this opportunity to ask if they are using a different practice? Or do we just move on?

A: Most people do use 18 months. We used to send a letter letting them know their pet is past due. It asks if we can update records because services were done elsewhere or if they’d like us to forward records. We just recently started using a service to help us with this.

A: In general, you can never get enough feedback—everything from good to ugly. We use a software app that automatically emails folks after each appointment (minus euthanasias) that asks for their feedback. However, a follow-up phone call can work all the same and is less expensive to implement.

A: When rabies vaccines are good for 3 years we usually leave folks active until 6 months past that deadline. We send electronic newsletters a couple of times a year. That helps to cull the folks who have moved or changed vets for whatever reason. A few will reply with the unsubscribe option and we mark them inactive.

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