In the Community: Rock Star Resilience

When the coronavirus hit in March of 2020, AAHA-accredited Animal Hospital of Rowlett (AHR) in Rowlett, Texas, stayed open, but it was not business-as-usual. Like all Texas veterinary practices, AHR qualified as an essential service; however, the definition of that phrase varied by county. 

Wendi Carter, DVM, CVA, with Axel (who has his own Instagram account). (Photo courtesy of Animal Hospital of Rowlett)

Editor’s note: Since the advent of the coronavirus, veterinary practices’ community service has shifted. We reached out to several practices we’ve interviewed in the past to see how they’re doing.

When the coronavirus hit in March 2020, AAHA-accredited Animal Hospital of Rowlett (AHR) in Rowlett, Texas, stayed open, but it was not business as usual. Like all Texas veterinary practices, AHR qualified as an essential service; however, the definition of that phrase varied by county.

“Our satellite practice was able to continue offering some services deemed nonessential at our main location,” Christen E. Lynch, practice manager of AHR, told Trends. “For instance, our main location stopped offering daycare, grooming, boarding, and some wellness care; however, our satellite continued to offer grooming.”

“Initially, we started with masks and operated as we normally did,” Lynch said. “About a week in, we changed to curbside and only allowed clients in the building for euthanasia. About a week after that, we shortened our hours.”

“We have offered telemedicine appointments, and we will FaceTime with clients who do curbside while we examine their pets inside if they want to be ‘present.’ We have also tried to be better with social media posts of new puppies and surgery patients so clients can see what we are doing inside,” said Lynch.

AHR has added services back since Texas has “reopened.” However, it will not perform low-cost spay and neuters owing to the potential for shortages of personal protective equipment.

Two of AHR’s community service efforts, spotlighted in a previous article, have also stalled.

Before coronavirus, AHR hosted a monthly pet-loss support group and invited clients to join when it sent out a sympathy card after euthanasia. “We would have done a Zoom meeting if there had been interest,” said Lynch, “but there was no response.” AHR continues to promote the pet-loss support group, but no one has RSVP’d. A local counselor has also offered her services to AHR for its clients should the need arise.

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Additionally, before the coronavirus, practice owner Kimberly Ann Downes, DVM, had been offering “Thursday visits” with her dog, Stone, a retired guide dog for the blind, to Christian Care Retirement Center. “We did have to stop this service since Christian Care is not allowing visitors, even families of the residents,” said Lynch.

AHR hopes to resume these community efforts once restrictions are lifted. Until then, AHR is doing what it can. “We send out letters from Bob, the clinic cat, to our families with young kids to say, in effect, ‘Quarantine is rough but we hope to see you soon.’”

Like many practices—and many businesses—today, AHR is being tested. And it is rising to the challenge. “Despite the difficult clients who don’t realize we’re doing our best, or that we’re as sad as they are that they can’t come inside, if anything, we’ve proven our resilience and teamwork,” said Lynch. “Veterinary employees are rock stars.”

 

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