COVID-19


COVID-19 Info


The MVMA wants to help its members stay informed about COVID-19. This MVMA Post is dedicated to COVID-19 resources.

If you have information or a resource you believe would be beneficial to our members and would like the MVMA to share, please contact Daniela Whelan, Communications & Professional Development Coordinator.

Mental Health Resources, Tips, and Supports
The MVMA has created a webpage dedicated to mental health resources and supports accessible to MVMA members, clinic staff, and families. This page contains information on support lines that you can call, as well as online therapy resources you can access.

The MVMA would like to remind members that you can access Homewood Health. This program is available for members and your family members. The counsellors are available to assist with a range of issues, from anxiety and depression, to cognitive behaviour therapy, to marital/relationship problems. Homewood Health: 1.800.663.1142

For more information please visit www.mvma.ca/mentalhealth

Please click on each tab below:


  • Provision of Veterinary Services in Manitoba
Provision of Veterinary Services in Manitoba

Update: Provision of Veterinary Services

With the Province of Manitoba’s decision to start “reopening” province, the MVMA Council shares the following with members to guide them in deciding what veterinary services to provide. This reopening does not mean clinics should return to “business as usual” – members should continue to be vigilant about ensuring their clinic is a safe place for staff and clients.

The primary consideration when determining what veterinary services to provide should be safeguarding the health of staff, clients and yourself. Another factor is the use of PPE that is in short supply.

  • Government physical (social) distancing methods must be implemented at veterinary clinics.
  • Continue to utilize tactics that will support physical distancing, such as curbside pick-up/ delivery (of products and pets) and locked-door (no walk-ins) policies.
  • Prioritize urgent and essential care.
  • Continue to use telemedicine when appropriate. (See more information on the MVMA COVID page under “The MVMA’s VCPR & Telemedicine.”)
  • Clinics may consider allowing one client per animal to attend the animal’s appointment. The client must use sanitizer upon entry. Clinics can determine if the client must wear a mask while in the clinic. It is suggested that the client leave the clinic while diagnostics are preformed or when medications are being prepared.
  • The provision of surgical services should focus on urgent and essential surgeries. For elective surgeries, consider the use and availability of PPE. Delay elective surgeries if access to PPE is a limited.
  • Reduce appointment volumes to support fewer interactions between staff and clients. Clinics need to continue to follow physical distancing methods.
  • Clients should be screened before attending a veterinary clinic.
  • Staff who are symptomatic or who have symptomatic family members should stay home.
  • See more tips on the MVMA COVID page under “Helpful Tips to Minimize Disease Spread in a Veterinary Setting)

Provincial Guidelines for Therapeutic and Health Care Businesses
Below are the Provincial Guidelines for Therapeutic and Health Care Businesses. It would be ideal if veterinary clinics implemented these strategies in their clinics when applicable. It would show that the veterinary community is taking its role in the prevention of COVID transmission very seriously.

From the Province of Manitoba:

At the direction of their respective regulatory bodies, regulated health professionals, such as chiropractors, physiotherapists, optometrists and podiatrists are no longer limited to providing urgent and emergent care. In addition, individuals who provide therapeutic massage and acupuncture services may resume providing those services.

Occupancy limits of 50 per cent of normal business levels or one person per 10 square metres can be lifted for regulated and non-regulated health professions, including registered massage therapists.

Service providers must continue to implement measures to ensure that members of the public are reasonably able to maintain a separation of at least two metres from others, except for brief exchanges.

In addition to general public health guidance for businesses, other important considerations for these businesses include:

  • Practitioners should see customers by appointment only and keep logs of appointments for possible contact tracing for a minimum of 21 days.
  • Customers and people who may attend with customers may be screened (screening questions) by telephone before an appointment is booked and should not be given an appointment if they have COVID-19 symptoms.
  • People should be screened when they arrive for an appointment. People identified as symptomatic should not be allowed into the building and should be instructed to call Health Links – Info Santé.
  • Waiting room management strategies must be in place. Strategies should include waiting in car if possible, or practice physical distancing if waiting in the business. No more than 10 people may gather in common areas.

Additional Guidelines:

  • Staff, patients or people attending with patients must use the self-screening tool before booking an appointment. https://sharedhealthmb.ca/covid19/screening-tool/
  • Employees must stay home when ill with COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Staff are given information about physical distancing.
  • Entry into the business, including lines, are regulated to prevent congestion.
  • Businesses must post external signs indicating COVID-19 physical distancing protocols, along with floor markings where service is provided or lines form.
  • Businesses must maintain a single point of entry.
  • Patients and people who may attend with patients are screened by telephone before an appointment is booked and are not given an appointment if they have COVID-19 symptoms.
  • People identified as symptomatic should be instructed to call Health Links – Info Santé.
  • Waiting room management strategies must be in place. Strategies should include waiting in car if possible, and physical distancing for those in waiting room. No more than 10 people may gather in common areas.
  • Hand sanitizer is available at the entrance/exit for patient and staff use.
  • Patients and people attending with patients must sanitize hands upon entry to facility.
  • Work/service areas are sanitized after each patient.
  • Washrooms have frequent sanitization and a regime for business sanitization is in place.
  • Magazine racks and toys are removed and play areas in waiting rooms are closed.
  • Patients may wear masks when receiving services, where possible.
  • Cashless or no-contact payment should be used to the greatest extent possible.
  • The MVMA’s VCPR & Telemedicine
The MVMA’s VCPR & Telemedicine

The MVMA does not have specific by-laws or rules that speak directly to the issue of telemedicine. In this sense, the same rules apply when providing veterinary service either in person or through a telemedicine modality (telephone, email, text, video call, etc.). With this said, members may want to review the following MVMA rules that many times touch on issues related to telemedicine within Manitoba:

  • The veterinarian must have a valid VCPR in order to provide veterinary service in Manitoba (Section 4-6-2 of the MVMA General By-Law No. 1).

This raises three key issues:

  1. The veterinarian must have sufficient knowledge of the animal(s) to initiate at least general or preliminary diagnosis of the medical condition.
  1. The veterinarian cannot establish a VCPR through telemedicine alone.
    ***Please note the Peer Review Committee passed a resolution on November 26, 2020 that allows for a VCPR to continue without an annual physical examination of the animal or the premises where the animal(s) are kept. This means that for animals for which there had been a valid VCPR, which included a physical examination, or a visit to the premises where the animals(s) are kept, the veterinarian can continue to provide veterinary service when appropriate. For more information about this resolution, please click here
  1. The veterinarian must be confident that the telemedicine modality that they are using (telephone, email, text, video call, etc.) is suitable and appropriate to provide the veterinarian with sufficient knowledge of the animal(s) to initiate at least general or preliminary diagnosis of the medical condition. The individual veterinarian is responsible for assessing each situation and determining if telemedicine and the specific telemedicine modality is appropriate on a case by case basis.

As per the MVMA General By-Law No. 1 and the PIPS By-Law the veterinarian must keep compliant medical records for each patient. This includes patients that receive service via telemedicine.

For guidance about when telemedicine may be appropriate, please review the MVMA’s Evaluation Tool: Essential vs Non-Essential Veterinary Procedures.

What is Telemedicine

The MVMA does not have any regulatory rules that define telemedicine. Generally, when veterinary professionals discuss telemedicine, they are referring to any technological mechanism that assists a veterinary professional in the provision of specific veterinary medical advice and veterinary treatment of an animal(s) based on the remote diagnosis of disease and injury by means of telecommunications technology where no physical examination of the animal(s) by the veterinarian takes place.

Telemedicine can include any technology that serves this purpose but has historically involved technologies like the telephone, email, text, video call.

  • Helpful Tips to Minimize Disease Spread in a Veterinary Setting
Helpful Tips to Minimize Disease Spread in a Veterinary Setting
  • Share the clinic’s protocol to protect the clients and staff. Advise what the clinic’s plan is for at-risk staff (usually a requirement to remain at home).
  • Pre-screen clients before direct interactions with them; ask about recent travel, self-isolation and illness. If a client is unwell, ask them to arrange for someone (who is not exposed and healthy) to bring their pet to the clinic. Or, ask them to reschedule the appointment if is not urgent.
  • Exercise social distancing: maintain 1-2 metres between yourself and others. Limit face-to-face interactions to work-related tasks.  This may include a closed exam rooms, extended time between clients and/or locked door policy.
  • Establish protocols to minimize person-to-person contact and maintain social distancing.  Offer hand sanitizer or opportunity for handwashing to each client as they come into the practice.
  • Minimize waiting room occupancy by increasing appointment times or staggering appointments as individual clinic staff complement can tolerate. Reconfigure waiting areas to ensure 1-2 metres distance between waiting clients and clients and hospital staff. Alternatively, have clients call the office once they have arrived and advise them when it is best to enter. (Increase social distancing by reducing the number of people in the waiting room.)
  • Restrict client access to practice by conducting a low/no contact appointment can be facilitated by asking the owner to remain in the vehicle. Practice staff can collect the patient from the vehicle for examination. Veterinarians and staff can then communicate with client by electronic means including text, face time, skype, etc. Medications and food may also be delivered to the vehicle in the same method.
  • Do not accept walk in traffic. Announce via signage, website, social media that the practice is not accepting walk-in traffic in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
  • Triage clients to discourage COVID+ clients from attending the practice. If you are allowing clients to attend in-person, use Owner Contact Guidelines to determine if the client should safely be permitted to enter the practice.
  • Limit payment methods. Practices should limit payment to an online payment system, or by point of service terminal (POS), with increased sanitation practices. Practices should avoid accepting cash.
  • Limit client purchases: set limits (i.e. two-month supply of food and medication) in case of shortages.
  • Institute enhanced triage system for patients. Consider limiting treatment to emergencies, urgent and sick cases only as well as important population medicine cases (immunization of puppies and kittens). Postpone/reschedule routine visits, including wellness exams, vaccinations, elective surgeries, etc. Consider employing telemedicine in your triage process.
  • Consider having employees work in teams. By separating your employees by shift and into teams reduces close contact between larger groups of employees. Sanitize the practice between shifts.
  • Review infection prevention and control protocol for the practice: http://oahn.ca/resources/ipc-best-practices/, https://www.aaha.org/aaha-guidelines/infection-control-configuration/aaha-infection-control-prevention-and-biosecurity-guidelines/
  • Increase sanitation practices. Ensure commonly touched surfaces (door knobs, counters, tables, seating areas, keyboards, telephones and point of service terminals) are cleaned after each client visit.
  • Remove unnecessary items from the practice that may act as fomites such as magazines, candy dishes, kids’ toys and practice leashes.
  • Ensure staff use human hospital safety hand-washing protocols after every client contact.
  • Reduce the need for signatures. A veterinarian or veterinary technologist may document in the medical record that verbal informed client consent has been received to reduce the requirement for client signatures.
  • Encourage sick staff to stay home. Create a culture where staff respect that they should stay home if sick, and self-isolate if necessary.
  • HR policies. Practices should implement and discuss HR policies, including sick time, contingency plans for reduced childcare and other factors with employees.
  • Inform staff that the Canadian government will waive the one-week waiting period for forced isolation based on symptomology where eligible for Employment Insurance. Consider offering pay advances/loans to staff who must be away from work due to isolation measures. https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/corporate/notices/coronavirus.html
  • Use disposable dishes or personal cups and dishware for coffee and lunches. Staff should not be sharing clinic dishes/food until otherwise notified.
  • Use of Masks in Clinics
Use of Masks in Clinics

To protect the staff of veterinary clinics and following updated guidance for public health authorities, the MVMA advises that clinic staff may want to wear cloth masks during client and staff interactions as described below:

Due to limited supply, with some exceptions, it is suggested that surgical face masks be reserved for veterinarian use during surgery.

  1. Wear a cloth face mask when interacting with clients, whether in the parking lot or clinic. Face masks primarily serve to protect others from the wearer, though they do provide a barrier that could shield incoming secretions and may deter the wearer from touching his or her face. Face masks are by no means a substitute for social distancing or strict disinfecting protocols; these must still be rigorously followed. At the very least, the wearing of face masks signals to the public that we take this situation seriously and are doing all we can to reduce spread.
  2. Wear a cloth face mask when working closely together with your colleagues.  Examples include during dental surgery, blood draws, x-rays, ultrasounds, or prolonged jostling in the pharmacy. Examples of times when it is optional include times when you’re working at a desk, in the lab, or cleaning a room by yourself.

More information from Scott Weese “Routine mask use in vet clinics?”

  • Animals & COVID-19
Animals & COVID-19

Information on COVID-19 and Animals in Canada can be found on the Government of Canada’s website. Please consult this website frequently as information will be updated as it becomes available.

The current spread of COVID-19 is a result of human-to-human transmission. There is no evidence to suggest that pets or other animals play a role in transmitting the disease to humans. Scientists are still trying to understand if and how it affects animals.

Pets can contribute to our overall happiness and well-being, especially in times of stress. If you are feeling well (no symptoms of COVID-19) and are not self-isolating because of COVID-19 illness, you can continue to take walks with your dog or spend time with your pet. This can contribute to keeping both you and your pet healthy.

As a precautionary measure, if you have COVID-19 symptoms or are self-isolating due to contact with a COVID-19 case, you should follow similar recommendations around animals, as you would around people in these circumstances:

  • avoid close contact with animals during your illness
    • practise good handwashing and avoid coughing and sneezing on your animals
    • do not visit farms or have contact with livestock
  • if possible, have another member of your household care for your animals
    • if this is not possible, always wash your hands before and after touching animals, their food and supplies and practise good cough and sneezing etiquette
  • limit your animal’s contact with other people and animals outside the household until your illness is resolved

These measures are recommended as a precaution, and are basic practices to prevent transmission of diseases between humans and animals. If you have concerns, seek professional advice from your veterinarian or a public health professional who can help to answer your questions.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency website has more information about animals and COVID-19.

Worms & Germs Blog (Dr. Scott Weese) – COVID-19 tag

  • Government Health Links
Government Health Links

Below are information and links that members may find beneficial as they respond to questions and concerns about Covid-19.

Government of Canada links

Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)

  • Include information on COVID-19 Update; Travel advice; Preparedness; Symptoms & treatment; Prevention & risk; Canada’s response

Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19): Prevention and Risks

Government of Manitoba links
Information about Coronavirus.

  • Veterinary Medical Links
Veterinary Medical Links

Below are information and links that members may find beneficial as they respond to questions and concerns about Covid-19.

CCVO
Council of Chief Veterinary Officers Position Statement: Testing of Animals for SARS-CoV-2

CFIA
INTERIM GUIDANCE FOR LABORATORIES TESTING ANIMALS FOR SARS-CoV-2 

CVMA
CVMA Coronavirus (COVID-19) Page

CVMA COVID-19 and Animals FAQ

Featuring relevant information and documents to keep you up-to-date on the current situation.  Please visit the page regularly for updates.

Topics on this page include:

  • Essential Services
  • Personal Protective Equipment
  • Animals in Canada
  • Additonal resources (links to trusted resources)
  • CVMA Articles and Bulletins

AVMA

COVID-19: What veterinarians need to know

  • Includes general information as well as information about the origin and spread; COVID-19 in humans; SARS-CoV-2 and domestic animals; keeping veterinary teams healthy; potential supply chain effects; other resources

FQAs about Coronavirus Disease 2019 (March 11, 2020)

Worms & Germs Blog (Scott Weese)

The MVMA encourages members to read the Worms and Germs Blog, prepared by Dr. Scott Weese. The blog contains helpful information regarding COVID-19 for members, clinic staff and clients.

Ontario Veterinary Medical Association

Patient Screening Pathways

Ontario Veterinary College

OVC Protocol for Client/ Patient arriving with perceived risk of COVID-19 Virus

WSAVA

The New Coronavirus and Companion Animals (March 7, 2020)

  • Business Links
Business Links

Below are information and links that members may find beneficial as they respond to questions and concerns about Covid-19.

Manitoba Chamber of Commerce & Other Business Links

Covid-19 Tools & Resources for Businesses/ Employers

Covid-19 Tools & Resources for Individuals/ Employees

Federal Tax Response to Covid-19 (MNP)

Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Employment & Social Development Canada

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ABOUT THE MVMA

The Manitoba Veterinary Medical Association is the professional organization of the province’s veterinarians.

We are an independent, non-profit entity that is dedicated to promoting the excellence of the veterinary profession.

INFORMATION

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