Veterinary surgeons are pushing the boundaries of telework in this pandemic period by offering telemedicine consultations to their four-legged patients.
Since the start of containment, veterinary clinics have only received cases which they qualify as urgent in their facilities. However, several specialists from across the province are offering telemedicine to replace clinic consultation, when possible.
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This is the case of Dr. Natacha Barrette who decided to offer an alternative to owners of animals who might worry about the health of their companions, without it necessarily being an emergency.
The one who had been working for a few weeks on « My vet at home », a project of veterinary services at home, decided to adapt her project so as to offer her services in the form of telemedicine.
« The launch of my service was scheduled at the same time that containment came into our lives, so it was a game-changer, » she said. I did the launch, but adapted to reality. »
As long as the containment measures are in place, Dr. Barrette will offer a remote consultation service seven days a week, including evenings. She also delivers drugs.
« I find it very important that the community can reach a veterinarian at any time without having to travel, » she says.
She cannot treat every case, but her service can still help a client who questions the seriousness of his animal’s condition and wants to know if it requires an emergency. Even if the animal seems to be in good health, it is important to be able to reassure the owner, especially in this pandemic period, when people are experiencing more stress.
For the past three weeks, she has had at least one consultation per day and numerous calls.
She cites as an example the owner of a small puppy who had not yet seen a veterinarian and who had a skin infection.
« She couldn’t find a clinic to assess it. She sent me photos and the information necessary to make a good diagnosis, and we completed it with a video consultation. I made a treatment plan and delivered the drugs to her door, « she says.
Dr. Amélie Leclerc, who is a veterinarian and co-owner of Groupeétérinaire Daubigny, sees telemedicine as a positive point in the pandemic.
“It has been since 2016 that we wanted to put this project in place, but there were always some pitfalls on the regulatory side. It’s flat that it takes such a crisis to get things done faster, but it’s one of the good things that will come out of it, « she said.
Dr. Leclerc believes that this service is a good sorting tool that can avoid many unnecessary trips, or an easier way to follow up remotely from animals that they have already treated before.
« For example, a client may call me because their dog has been bitten by another dog in the house and they do not know whether to move or not. I am able through telemedicine to know if he needs stitches, « she continues.
Telemedicine is also handy for clients outside their region who need the advice of a specialist quickly. It is however important that the animal and the veterinarian already have a link before a first remote consultation.
In order to facilitate the work of its members during the pandemic, the Quebec Order of Veterinary Physicians has relaxed some of its rules of practice, so that they can more easily carry out telemedicine.
► Maguire Veterinary Medicine Clinic
► Daubigny veterinary clinics (Online and home services)
► Nicolet veterinary clinic