Becker veterinary clinic reopens
Published on: June 9, 2020
The Becker College Veterinary Clinic at the Lenfest Animal Health Center is now open, offering wellness care and non-urgent medical and surgical care for dogs, cats, other small mammals, and birds.
“We are scheduling appointments and performing surgical procedures,” said Shannon Babyak, director of clinical instruction for the Lenfest Animal Health Center. “We have safety and cleaning protocols in place to keep our clients and staff safe—including a virtual waiting room for our clients—and we are practicing social distancing.”
The vet clinic, which is located on the Leicester campus of Becker College, is currently open Monday-Wednesday. It had been closed since mid-March, in response to the Coronavirus pandemic.
“It was a very difficult decision for us to stop scheduling appointments as the pandemic was beginning to unfold,” Babyak said. “We felt, for the safety and health of our staff and clients, it would be in everyone’s best interest to cancel appointments and surgical procedures until we had a better sense of what was happening with Covid-19.”
Prior to reopening, the veterinary clinic staff spent countless hours reviewing literature and guidelines to ensure every safety precaution was being met.
“While the clinic has reopened, it is not ‘business as usual,’” Babyak said. “We are staying on top of CDC guidelines and AVMA guidelines as well as state and federal recommendations. We have implemented new cleaning protocols as well as a new routine for seeing appointments.”
Throughout the summer, the clinic will run with a skeleton crew of 4 people, including 1 veterinarian, 1 front office staff member, and 2 veterinary technicians.
“For the foreseeable future we will have a virtual waiting room in which clients stay in their cars,” Babyak said. “We communicate with them via phone, and only their pets are allowed in the building. In addition, we are wearing all of the required PPE, maintaining social distancing as much as possible, and adhering to a very strict cleaning protocol. It is our top priority to keep our staff and our clients safe and healthy.”
Babyak said the current focus for the veterinary clinic staff is to get caught up on all of the appointments and surgical procedures that had to be cancelled due to the pandemic.
“We also want to make sure our new procedures are efficient and safe,” she said. “If all goes well, we will be inviting students back into the clinic in July.”
The veterinary clinic has served as a teaching clinic for students in Becker’s animal studies programs for more than 30 years. Veterinary technology, pre-veterinary, and animal care students assist in all aspects of animal care under the supervision of staff veterinarians and veterinary technicians. The clinic provides veterinary services to approximately 1,000 clients during the academic year, and cases are all generally managed with the student engaged—as part of the teaching mission.
Babyak noted that when students are invited back, it will be solely on a voluntary basis. In addition, the process will be focused first and foremost on safety. Bringing students back will be done in a very controlled manner, and each student will be given explicit instruction and direction on all of the clinic’s Covid-19 policies.
“In veterinary medicine, a lot of our learning is hands-on,” Babyak said. “By allowing students the opportunity to participate in appointments or surgeries in the clinic over the summer, they will be able to make up for some of the missed experiences from the spring semester.”
Babyak said the clinic staff is working with the students’ instructors and faculty to determine which students could benefit most from being in the clinic over the summer, with priority given to seniors.
“This will also give our students the benefit of being able to complete some coursework before the fall semester begins and lighten their academic load,” she said.
But while hands-on learning is an important goal for the clinic, Babyak stressed that safety remains paramount.
“We are monitoring the pandemic closely and if, at any point, we feel like the risk of staying open exceeds the benefit, we will close again,” she said. “We want to emphasize that keeping our students, staff and clients safe and healthy is our primary goal. “
Babyak noted that while the past few months have been overwhelming and at times very nerve-racking, she couldn’t be prouder of the people who work in the veterinary clinic, or more grateful to the clients they serve.
“The team absolutely put their agile mindset to good use to get the clinic operational again. It was a truly collaborative effort,” she said. “Our clients have been so unbelievably understanding and dedicated to us. They deserve a huge thank you for their patience through these past few months. And our students—I can’t say enough about them. Their fortitude, and dedication to their education and future profession is amazing.”
To contact the Becker College Veterinary Clinic at the Lenfest Animal Health Center, call 774.354.0660, or email email@example.com. For more information about the Vet Clinic, visit https://www.becker.edu/academic/clinics-centers-institutes/becker-veterinary-clinic/.