Global Desk - The COVID Conundrum

Dr. Cleber Fontana

As in the United States, veterinary practices in Brazil are adapting and experiencing increased demand after an initial downturn, says Cleber Fontana, a veterinarian who serves as operations manager for Pet Care, a network of 24-hour veterinary hospitals in the state of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Dr. Fontana is optimistic about the future.

"I believe that veterinary medicine will adapt satisfactorily to the challenges of the moment," Dr. Fontana said. "We deal with an essential service to society within the context of health, not only for pets but also for people. Therefore, it is necessary to reinvent processes that allow the activity to function, offering safety to the client and staff, without compromising excellence in patient medical care."

Dr. Fontana and his team rethought the hospital's operational flow, since the employees were reduced in alternating scales to avoid agglomerations. They implemented increased safety measures and made changes, including offering curbside appointments. This prevented hospitals from needing to reduce the services offered; however, customer relations have been impacted.

"We are a Latin people, warm and kinesthetic," Dr. Fontana said. "The use of PPE brings out an impersonality in care that is not usual in our practice." To maintain a close doctor-tutor relationship from an informational perspective, Dr. Fontana's team has increased follow-up phone calls and post-appointment e-mails. Visits by animals admitted to the hospital have the option of being made via video call.

"In Brazil, however, veterinary services cannot be done via telemedicine, as there is no regulation for it," Dr. Fontana said. "If well regulated, telemedicine would facilitate cases in which remote monitoring would meet the need, such as in stable chronic cases. At the beginning of the pandemic, these cases stayed away from the hospital, but they presented later either with some aggravation or lack of control. Telemedicine would ease that."

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