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PPE Shortages Spark Creative Solutions

General Practice

A group of veterinary technicians pose for a photo holdings signs that spell out essential

With personal protective equipment (PPE) in short supply, local communities everywhere are working to ensure their human health workers have the tools they need to fight COVID-19. NVA hospitals are doing their part but, as an essential service, protective gear remains a necessity for animal care professionals. To help offset shortages, hospitals across NVA are finding innovative ways to conserve and create PPE.

In Annapolis, Maryland, the team at Anne Arundel Veterinary Emergency Clinic has found a way to safely substitute some necessary supplies. They’ve converted their conference room into a temporary sewing room.

“We enlisted several team members with sewing experience to pin and sew masks,” said Hospital Manager Rusty Owens. “People are eager to contribute to this project!”

As a 24-hour emergency and critical care facility, their need for PPE is especially crucial. “We plan to make about 600,” added Rusty. “We have about 100 employees just in the ER and 200 total when you include the specialists in our facility, so we’re making plenty of extras.”

AAVEC will use the new equipment for curbside pickups. But with supply limitations a real possibility, they may also work as substitutes for surgical masks.

Value Pet Clinic in Kent, Washington, has also increased PPE conservation efforts. Like many NVA hospitals, they’ve followed AVMA’s guidance and postponed elective surgical procedures, like spays, neuters, and routine dental cleanings. “We are keeping a waitlist of patients that need these services and will call to schedule when we are back up to normal capacity,” said Hospital Manager Wendy Roberts. “Our clients have been supportive and very understanding.”

Still, their clinic remains open for urgent and crucial care, and masks and gowns are very much in need. “We have an amazing veterinary technician who is making masks for our entire staff,” Wendy added, indicating a collection of colorful masks, and one in particular with a notable pattern. “Seattle Seahawks! Best one yet!”

With human hospitals struggling to find adequate equipment as well, many NVA hospitals are also stepping up to assist fellow caregivers in their local communities. Animal Specialty Center is one of them.

Just outside New York City, one of the places hardest hit by the pandemic, the team answered a call for help from the medical director of a local human hospital, St. Joseph’s Medical Center. Animal Specialty Center provided St Joseph’s with three ventilators that will be used to support patients in the fight against COVID-19.

“Their dedicated team of doctors, nurses, and support staff are working tirelessly to care for the ever-rising number of patients and to overcome challenges faced with an unprecedented demand for precious resources,” said Angela Morgan, ASC’s Hospital Administrator. “As a member of the healthcare industry, we are proud to stand behind our human healthcare workers in any way we possibly can”.

Through it all, NVA’s procurement team is working diligently to prepare our community for the shortage as best they can. They surveyed local leaders to identify hospitals with the most urgent needs, and are working closely with our distribution partners to monitor future supply.

Meanwhile, NVA’s Medical Advisory Board provided guidance on how to conserve, reuse, and even create PPE to aid hospitals in extending their supply. (If you are part of the NVA community, please contact your division leader to obtain this information.) Of course, hospital leaders are encouraged to review AVMA guidelines, as they make their own decisions on how best to utilize protective equipment.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has created much uncertainty, one thing is for sure: the NVA community continues to prove how kind-hearted, innovative, and resilient it can be when faced with unforeseen challenges. And while NVA’s focus is on the continued health, safety and well-being of its hospital partners, staff, clients, and the veterinary community at large, we continue to closely monitor the situation, as every day brings new developments.

We are doing everything we can to keep our practices informed with accurate information to allow them to focus on the well-being of their patients so the care their clients are accustomed to may continue unimpeded. Faces may be covered, but behind every mask is an unseen smile reflected in part by bright colors or whimsical patterns. The creativity is helping lift everyone’s spirits at a time when it’s needed most.

If you are part of our NVA community and would like to receive the toolkit and other resources mentioned above, please reach out to your division leader. For our extended community, please contact info@nva.com for more information.