Banfield Pet HospitalFollow this author
by Kim Perez
Veterinarian Maria Ramirez-Gorton talks about what it’s like to lead pet hospitals through a pandemic.
As chief of staff for two Banfield Pet Hospitals, in Newport News and Hampton, Virginia, it’s her job to make sure each hospital maintains the highest quality veterinary care. That involves reviewing protocols and updating them when needed – for instance, when we’re in the midst of a global pandemic.
As anyone with a furry friend at home can attest, veterinary care is important – whether your pet needs urgent care or heartworm prevention.
So, how do you keep your staff and your clients as safe as possible while still delivering the high-quality care you’re known for? For Dr. Ramirez-Gorton, it involved ongoing conversations with staff and lots of creative thinking.
Safety for the Team and for Clients
Since the start of the pandemic, the health, safety, and wellbeing of Banfield’s patients, staff, and community continues to be the practice’s No. 1 priority.
“I asked my teams: what would make you feel safe?” said Dr. Ramirez-Gorton. “I really wanted to get the entire team’s input. Whether it’s comfort, safety or not overloading them with extra hassles – what would make them feel most supported?”
The hospitals deployed new personal hygiene best practices, hospital cleaning and disinfection guidelines, and responsible personal protective equipment (PPE) usage – as well as adapted their check-in procedures.
To streamline processes and ensure they’re following social distancing guidelines, hospital teams implemented quick pet handoffs and would call clients from the exam rooms to discuss their pet’s care and answer questions.
At the Newport News hospital, they have a back entrance where there’s more space, which they took advantage of for when clients picked up their pets when their appointment was completed. They even created designated social distancing squares on the floor.
Hospital teams even started asking clients to call from the car so they could arrange curbside drop-offs and pick-ups.
“It’s really been the ingenuity of our associates helping us figure these things out, and how to work best with clients,” said Dr. Ramirez-Gorton. “I check in and have huddles with my teams almost daily, where we talk about how we’re feeling, and what we can do differently.”
Keep Up Your Pet’s Wellness and Prevention
She stressed the importance of keeping up your pet’s health during this time.
Pets should connect with their veterinarian on staying up-to-date on their vaccines and wellness checkups. If there’s a tooth abscess or a broken tooth, those are things you should call your veterinary hospital about right away, as they might require immediate care.
Just as your pet is an essential part of your family, pet care is essential work.
“I truly believe that veterinarians are essential workers,” said Dr. Ramirez-Gorton. “Our clients are so happy that we’re here for them and so grateful for the care we give their pets.”