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Tele-vet an option for a healthy pet

Vets have had to be creative when accepting patients during times of physical distancing. At Mission Ridge Animal Hospital, it's just as easy as picking up your phone.
Mission Ridge Animal Hospital
The Mission Ridge Animal Hospital is open for business though with a few modifications to its regular open door policy. Only the waiting room is closed, so clients with appointments now call from the parking lot and an attendant will come to the vehicle to retrieve the animal for its appointment. The clinic also offers FaceTime and online consultations. SCOTT HAYES/St. Albert Gazette

The COVID-19 pandemic has meant that city veterinarians have had to put some interesting new measures in place to help people help their animals.

“We've gone through a variety of changes over the last little while since all of these concerns have surfaced,” explained Debra Briton, practice manager at Mission Ridge Animal Hospital.

That means physical distancing and other protocols have led to a brave new prospect. For the first time ever, phone and FaceTime conferencing are available options.

You could call it ‘tele-vet’ if you want. It comes with a revised policy for allowing each client into the clinic itself while its human keeps an electronic distance. It’s not a ‘closed door policy’, she averred, but rather a ‘closed waiting room policy’.

When people show up for their appointments, they are asked to call inside once they have arrived in the parking lot. A staff member will go out and take the pet from the car with all appropriate physical safety precautions such as smocks and rubber gloves in place.

“Alongside with an assistant, the veterinarian will perform the exam and then consult with the client over the phone.”

The system, she admitted, has been requiring a longer period of time per visit but it has otherwise been smooth.

“It's a little bit more time-consuming to do things this way but it’s actually working very well and it's a really nice way of ensuring that our clients and their pets get taken care of and that their needs are addressed right away.”

Telemedicine is also a new option, added in just a week ago. It can be accessed via the ‘Online Consultation’ button on its website at Through that tool, a user can see the variety of pet doctors who are available. The client can choose the type of appointment, whether it be a chat, a telephone call or a video conference call. The option to upload pictures is available through this tool. If the vet sees something that requires closer examination, those arrangements can be made then.

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For medication and prescription food refills, it’s business as usual with prepayments over the phone; however, clinic staff will take the orders out to the clients’ car for a value-added experience. This, naturally, precludes the need for the clients to come into the building.

All of this extra effort is to uphold the importance of animal care, which is especially vital for many people to remember in trying times. Pets, she noted, offer companionship and comfort and, with more and more people spending more and more time with their animals, it’s a good reminder that their health care is just as important as anyone’s.

This system is now in place with the veterinarians at Mission Ridge along with affiliated veterinarians at the Morinville Veterinary Hospital and the Mill Creek Veterinary Hospital in south Edmonton. Clients will likely have noticed that shifting priorities has pushed some routine vaccines down the list until things settle down, Briton said, though a vet always has your pet's best interests in mind.

"If you have any concerns at all about your pet, just give us a call."

Scott Hayes

About the Author: Scott Hayes

Scott Hayes joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2008. Scott writes about the arts, entertainment, movies, culture, community groups, and charities. He also writes general news, features, columns and profiles on people.
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