Thank you for taking the time to come to our website for information regarding your pet. And that thanks is extended beyond our clients to anyone else who "stumbles" upon us.
I am writing this to clarify our approach to providing continuous health care for our petients, and I am sure why vets all over the world are trying to do the same thing for their patients. Fortunately in Australia vets have been designated an essential service whilst the COVID-19 pandemic is afoot. This is because the Federal Government reagrsd us as essential to "...our nation’s food security but also in protecting companion animals and our nation’s wildlife."
Veterinarians, veterinary nurses and all those associated buy into that concept entirely and is why we do what we do. For example our own specific Vision Statement is -
"To champion the welfare, wellbeing and conservation of all animals through education, advocacy and example."
So animals (including pets) are front and centre of what we do. However the well-being of our staff has to surpass that directive.
WHY? And many people have asked over the years, not just now. If we love animals why won't we .....? It is plain and simple - if we are sick, or worse still die, we can't help anyone or anything. Over the years that has presented chronically as mental illness within the profession, which historically has the highest suicide rate of all professions. Good vets who have given more than they should have been asked, and now only contribute to a national shortage of veterinarians.
SO in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic we need to strcitly adhere to the prime national and international directive as our number one priority. That is "FLATTEN THE CURVE". We can not afford to overload our medical facilities and staff. So limiting spread of this virus in our communities is number 1.
Number 2 is protect our staff. We have to minimise the risk of infecting our staff and "sidelining" them for 2+ weeks. And please bear in mind we often have to work closely with each other, so there is a real risk of more than one person at a time being exposed to infection. We also have to protect the emotional and psychological well-being of our staff. To date everyone (well almost) has been very reasonable and understanding with respect to our requests. However if anyone gives us grief, ignores requests, disregards any Federal or NSW directives they will be short shifted, and if appropraite reported to the authorities. I will not tolerate unreasonable behaviour from any individual that puts our staff and our ability to look after our patients at risk.
Number 3 is "To champion the welfare, wellbeing and conservation of all animals through education, advocacy and example." By being here we can continue doing what we do for as long as we can. To that end we have loosely divided up into "teams". I will be physically avoiding the practice most of the time and concentrating on support for our staff, phone consults, and administration. Dr Pam Byron is doing the heavy lifting currently. However it is probably inevitable that she will get infected or be "In Contact". If so I shall step into the breach. As the virus works its way into the Bellingen community we will wind back our activities a little and break into smaller pods - 1 vet & 1 nurse - and rotate days on. The last thing we want is to all get infected or be "In Contacts" and have no one left to look after your pets.
Finally, on a personal note, I find myself reflecting back to my time working in UK on the Foot & Mouth outbreak in 2001. It was a dire scenario to be sure, but the management of that outbreak achieved the best possible outcome. Why? Because everyone did what had to be done, not what they wanted to do. Let the epidemiologists and the real professionals do their job and follow their instructions to the letter. Do not get waylaid by the opinions of unqualified individuals or groups, be they fruit pickers or doctors. We were a bunch of experienced vets over there from all over the world - who just shut up and did exactly what they asked us to do. That works. Continual debate and discussion just confuses the message. So don't be a woose, do what your told.
Thank you for your time and your continued custom. Keep well, protect the community and don't forget all those other species!!! These things take time to pass, so be patient and don't panic.