27 Apr CFO Jon Cartu Reports – Northwest Houston vets adjust to COVID-19 with curbside model
While dogs and cats may be happy that their owners are home more often due to stay-at-home orders, they may be more likely to face a visit to the vet. Multiple veterinarian offices in northwest Houston are offering a new curbside approach to appointments.
Ariana Gurel with Veterinary Medical Center of Spring said her office has closed lobby doors and begun taking pets into exam rooms while their owners stay in their car in order to maintain social distancing and reduce the chance of possible spreading COVID-19.
“We’ve closed our lobby doors, we run out to the car, get the pet inside and we actually have doctors communicating the client over the phone while they’re in the car,” Gurel said. “It’s pretty much like a drive-thru. One of the receptionists will run out and take whatever paperwork is necessary.”
VMCS has seen more clients since residents began staying home more often, with new clients enrolling after switching from a previous provider that may have shut down due to COVID-19 to save funds or protect employees.
“People are home and they’re starting to realize that their pet has XYZ going on, so they have free time to take care of those missing exams and vaccines and whatnot,” Gurel said. “People have adjusted. We’ve actually had a couple of clients say that they like this model and could get used to it so they like the convenience of getting to sit in the car while we’re taking care of their babies.”
VMCS is a small office with eight employees providing full service with longer appointments.
“One of the benefits of our clinic other than being increasingly busy is that we’re owned by a corporation that owns a lot of different vet clinics,” Gurel said. “We do have that luxury of being able to stay open. We’ve been able to adjust quickly and worst-case scenario if this has to continue over the next couple of months, we’re making it work.”
Leyda Conner with VCA Telge Road Animal Hospital said the VCA system has switched to a curbside model for clients similar to VMCS, with payment taken over the phone while pet parents wait outside for the appointment to finish.
“We go out there and hand (your supplies) to you,” she said. “If you’re here for an appointment we let our technicians know you’re outside so they can call you to get a game plan.”