In our previous post, we wrote about ways your clinic can cope with the changes caused by Covid-19. Here are some additional thoughts about understaffing and client satisfaction during the pandemic.
Question: How can my veterinary clinic navigate issues of understaffing caused by the Covid-19 Pandemic?
Understaffing in Veterinary care was a common issue prior to the pandemic. The pandemic only worsens this divide. Following CDC guidelines, an employee who is exposed to Covid-19 must quarantine until they receive their test results, and even if they are negative, the length of the quarantine is 7 days from the test. If it is positive, the quarantine period is at least 14-days, and they cannot return until they acquire a negative test. This can create large, unexpected gaps in staffing if even one employee is following quarantine protocol. This issue can become exacerbated if multiple employees were exposed and require quarantine. We recommend to have a plan and prepare for these possible scenarios. It will still be challenging, but you will be prepared for the unexpected.
One way to prepare for these possible gaps in staffing is inquiring and invoking relief staff. Having reliable backup staff during these times can effectively save the day. If repeated staffing issues occur, it may also be time to onboard new employees. While this can be a daunting task to undertake while navigating the pandemic, it is an investment that will benefit the clinic once the dust has settled.
Question: How do I ensure my clients are receiving satisfactory experiences with all these restrictions in place?
We have heard from many vets that some clients are dissatisfied and frustrated with the inability to attend the appointment with/for their pet, which was standard prior to the pandemic. The reality is that for some clinics, that may not be a possibility for the foreseeable future. Staff and other clients may not feel safe doing so, or the logistics may be too difficult with other Covid-19 protocols currently in place, or the positivity rate and amount of cases could still be too high.
If opening up is simply not a possibility for a variety of reasons, making an effort to communicate more directly and consistently with clients who have appointments is the most tangible way to alleviate these concerns. Even though the client will not be able to attend the appointment, updating them with pictures, messages, or a phone call where appropriate can ease some of these anxieties. A little personable interaction can go a very long way for clients who feel left in the dark.
Williams & Nickl has represented many Veterinarians and Certified Vet Techs who face issues with IDFPR. If you find yourself in such a situation, Williams & Nickl can provide the help you need.