COVID-19: Clinic Administration & Patient Care Guidance

We will continue to update Oregon veterinarians with important developments regarding COVID-19 that impact the veterinary community. We are all in this together.

For employer-related financial issues such as new sick leave rules, business financial support programs, and related topics, visit our COVID-19 Employer Guidance page.

As medical professionals, veterinary practices can model appropriate and necessary behavior to clients, staff, and the general public during this public health crisis.

Please note that all guidance or rules below are from Oregon Health Authority, CDC, and/or Oregon OSHA. The Oregon Veterinary Medical Association has not set these requirements. We offer this information below as a courtesy to our members to help keep them informed.

Fully Vaccinated Individuals: What Does This Mean for Veterinary Facilities?

OHA Interim Guidance for Fully Vaccinated Individuals

If the entire practice team is fully vaccinated, are we able to remove our masks when no clients are present inside the facility?

Yes, that is our understanding. Employees must provide the employer with proof of vaccination. (See below under OSHA Rules for what acceptable proof of vaccination is.) If a team member is not vaccinated or unwilling to provide proof of vaccination, they are required to wear a mask in the veterinary facility. Some clinic teams are choosing to continue to wear masks until everyone is vaccinated.

What is allowed for clinics where most—but not all—team members are vaccinated?

Those who are not vaccinated must wear a mask.

If veterinary team members are seeing a patient in a treatment area of the clinic and all team members are fully vaccinated, can we remove our masks?

Yes.

Oregon OSHA COVID-19 Rules as They Affect Veterinary Facilities

Oregon OSHA announced continuation of the agency’s required rules for workplaces during the pandemic. This includes veterinary facilities across the state.

Unless otherwise indicated, the new rule will remain in effect permanently during the pandemic, with a review every two months to address whether all or part of the rule can and should be repealed. The initial review of the new rule will take place no later than July 2021.

Additional Resources:

Summary of OSHA COVID-19 Rule Requirements

On May 26, Oregon OSHA posted a workplace advisory memo that reflects some changes with its specific rules regarding facial covering and social distancing in veterinary practice.

The document clarifies the options for allowing clients into veterinary facilities. Until now, the rule enabled clients to enter a facility if masking and physical distancing were followed. However, with few exceptions, clients were restricted from entering an exam room. The updated recommendation eases those limitations and gives veterinary facilities greater options.

The new options are:

  1. Continue with curbside service.
  2. Allow unvaccinated clients in the facility’s waiting room with masking and distancing. Unvaccinated clients may still enter the exam room (masked, distanced) for three exceptions previously documented: euthanasia; receiving instruction as to providing home care for pets including, but not limited to, giving medication, providing fluids, or managing feeding tubes or catheters; or veterinary workers are examining or treating animals that may pose a threat to the veterinary worker.
  3. Verify vaccine status to allow fully vaccinated clients into the facility and exam rooms. In this case, masking and distancing would not apply.

Verifying vaccine status means:

  • A clinic policy for checking for proof of vaccination status of individuals; and
  • Requesting proof of vaccination status from each individual; and
  • Reviewing each individual’s proof of vaccination (such as a vaccine card) prior to services being rendered

According to OHA, proof of vaccination status includes:

  • Your original COVID-19 vaccination card (photo or photocopy okay) is the best proof of vaccination.
  • If you do not have that card, replacement cards may not be available but there are other forms of acceptable alternative COVID-19 vaccination proof. Proof of vaccination must have your name, date of birth, and date and type of COVID-19 vaccine.
  • You may be able to print a record of your vaccinations from your personal electronic healthcare record on your provider’s website such as My Chart (you may need to black out other information on the record that you do not want to share);
  • Request a copy of your immunization record from Oregon’s ALERT IIS registry (call 211 for help; be prepared to wait at last five days before receiving record); or
  • Ask your health care provider to print out your immunization record and mail it to you or ask to pick it up if that is quicker

OVMA Notes:

1. Physical Distancing Measures

As part of the requirement to ensure that workers can maintain appropriate physical distancing, as described in OAR 437-001-0744(3)(a), veterinary employers must also take the following specific steps:

1. Adopt a curbside model, bringing the animal patient into the facility while the owner remains in the vehicle, strictly enforce six-foot physical distancing in the waiting area, OR employ a combination of the two.
2. Do not allow unvaccinated owners or caretakers into the facility exam room without appropriate source control and only when visit involves one of the following:

  • Euthanasia;
  • Receiving instruction as to providing home care for pets including, but not limited to, giving medication, providing fluids, or managing feeding tubes or catheters; or
  • Veterinary workers are examining or treating animals that may pose a threat to the veterinary worker.

3. Limit situations where any veterinarian workers are within six feet of other individuals to those necessary to safely handle and treat the animal patient.

2. Masks, Face Coverings, & Face Shields

To reduce the risk of transmission from potentially infected individuals, veterinary employers must implement the requirements of OAR 437-001-0744(3)(b). In addition, veterinary employers must provide and ensure the use of personal protective equipment in accordance with the table at the end of this appendix (page 43).

3. Cleaning and Sanitation

The rule requires regular cleaning of all common areas, shared equipment, high-touch surfaces at least once every 24 hours if the workplace is occupied less than 12 hours a day or every 8 hours if the workplace is occupied for more than 12 hours per day.

4. Posting Requirements

The COVID-19 Temporary Standards Poster must be permanently placed conspicuously in a central location. Any employee working remotely must be provided with a copy of the poster through electronic or equally effective means.

5. Special Requirements for Building Operators

No later than November 23, 2020, where feasible, building operators must ensure that the facility layout allows for appropriate physical distancing and that a “Masks Required” sign is posted in common areas including shared entrances, waiting rooms, corridors, examination and treatment rooms, etc.

6. Ventilation Requirements

No later than January 6, 2021, HVAC maintenance must be performed to ensure the maximum amount of outside air recirculation to the extent of system capacity. This includes cleaning and maintaining filters, but it does not require the installation of new ventilation equipment.

Under the new rule (5/4/21), by June 3, 2021 all employers with more than 10 employees and an existing HVAC system must certify in writing that they are operating the system in accordance to the new rule, to the best of their knowledge. Note: The updated rule does not require employers to purchase new ventilation systems.

7. Conduct a COVID-19 Exposure and Risk Assessment

No later than December 7, 2020, all employers must perform a COVID-19 exposure risk assessment. The assessment must involve feedback and participation from employees via a safety meeting or a supervisor. Employers with >10 employees must document their exposure risk assessment using the OSHA questionnaire for each job title. Risk assessment must involve participation and feedback from employees via safety meeting, supervisor meeting, or any other similar interactive process. Keep this documentation on file in your practice; you do not have submit it to anyone at this time.

8. Infection Control Plan

No later than December 7, 2020, all employers must implement an infection control plan. For employers with > 10 employees, the plan must be in writing and available to employees. If an employer has multiple facilities, the plan may be formulated for facility type rather than individual facility. Keep this documentation on file in your practice; you do not have submit it to anyone at this time.

Note: You may also choose to complete the template developed by OVMA.

9. Employee Information and Training

No later than December 21, 2020, employers must provide workers with information and training on COVID-19 and ensure that employees are provided an opportunity for feedback about topics covered.

10. COVID-19 Infection Notification Process

Employers must establish a mechanism for notifying both exposed and affected employees within 24 hours of the employer’s knowledge of a potential COVID-19 workplace exposure (eg. an individual with COVID-19 in the workplace.)

11. COVID-19 Testing for Workers

Employers must cooperate with the Oregon Health Authority or local public health if workplace COVID-19 testing is indicated by those agencies (making employees and space available).  If testing is directed by employer (not OHA or a local public health agency), costs (test, employee time, travel expense) is to be borne by the employer requesting the testing.

12. Medical Removal

Whenever the Oregon Health Authority, local public health agency, or medical provider recommends an employee be restricted from work due to quarantine or isolation for COVID-19, such as through identification during contact tracing activities, the affected worker(s) must be directed to isolate at home and away from other non-quarantined individuals. Note: Other than the obligation to provide such direction and to remove such employees from the workplace, the employer has no obligation to enforce the employee’s quarantine or isolation.

13. Transportation

The new rule encourages employers, if practical, to consider alternatives to transporting multiple people for work-related purposes. When employees share work vehicles, employers must ensure the following measures are taken:

Mask Guidance

CDC PPE Guidance

Minimum Standards of Care

A reminder that nothing in these orders or guidance changes the minimum standards of care to which you must continue to adhere as licensees and veterinary facilities.

Telemedicine

  • When appropriate, consider the use of Veterinary Telemedicine to limit visits to the clinic.
  • Pursuant to the Governor's Executive Order 20-03, the OVMEB has determined that veterinarians have the option to provide treatment for the duration of the State of Emergency by Veterinary Telemedicine without first having to conduct a physical exam to establish a VCPR. Please note that all other portions of the VTM rule continue to apply.
  • When using telemedicine, you can issue prescriptions if you believe it is safe and appropriate to do so. You must ensure that the technology you are using is sufficient and of appropriate quality to provide accuracy of remote assessment and diagnosis of the patient. You must also ensure that medical information obtained via VTM is recorded completely in your patient’s medical record and meets all applicable requirements of current medical recordkeeping requirements.

Updated: 2021-05-28 07:00:00

Author: Oregon Veterinary Medical Association