Update on Coronavirus (COVID-19) | Veterinary Specialist Services

UPDATE ON CORONAVIRUS / COVID-19

Last Updated: 07/08/2020 5PM

Update Regarding QLD/NSW Border Crossing Restrictions

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, entry to Queensland is temporarily restricted by the Chief Health Officer under the Border Restrictions Direction.

From 1am on Saturday 8th August, NSW residents will only be allowed to enter Queensland if they are an exempt person or have been granted an exemption from Queensland's Chief Health Officer AND you have a Queensland Border Declaration Pass AND you live within the designated border communities. For exact locations and restrictions please refer to this link.

If you are traveling across the NSW border for an appointment with VSS from a designated border community, we will send you an email to explain your need to visit Veterinary Specialist Services. Please take a copy of this information to support your requirement to cross the border. Please also register for a QLD Border Declaration Pass. You can find relevant information relating to crossing the NSW border into QLD and; how to register for a border pass at the link below.

For our clients living in NSW but outside the designated border communities, you will not be permitted to cross the QLD border. When booking an appointment with VSS, please speak to our client services team about options for transporting your patient across the border to us.

Registration for a QLD Border Declaration Pass can be found here.

Contact details of all of our locations can be found here.

We will regularly update this page and our blog as we learn more information. You can also follow us on Facebook for the latest news. 


We are pleased to see that the overall number of cases of the novel corona virus in Queensland is very small now. We have been working with strict social distancing measures in place since March as many other veterinary practices have.

As of 8 June 2020 we will stop working in split teams at the Underwood and Carrara sites as our first step towards relaxing restrictions. We will work individually with our consultant groups who normally operate between the sites to make plans as to how to increase their availability as well.

We have seen a significant increase in the number of phone calls needed to manage the concierge service. We've put in place a number of changes to help manage this call volume including a call back service (if on hold you now have an option to select this rather than wait for an operator to become available), as well as a text and email contact method for clients to our reception teams when they are attending the practice.

We will continue to adapt as more information becomes available as to the longer term trend number of cases and risks of transmission becomes available.

Please read the information on this page to learn about changes to VSS and the precauations we are currently taking as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. We will be regularly updating this page as more information comes to light.

Feel free to click the links below to navigate to the relevant section:

Advice for pet owners visiting VSS Hospitals during the COVID-19 outbreak

Advice for pet owners visiting VSS Hospitals during the COVID-19 outbreak

Client Interactions Plans and Communication

To all our valued clients and referring veterinarians,

We are now introducing a patient drop off system. This is to minimise the risk of human to human transmission for you and for us of coronavirus as well as to comply with social distancing regulations and avoid a waiting room with a large number of people present. Our reception team can help you with this process.

The key steps are to:

  • Make an appointment as usual, but when you attend, to stay in your vehicle. Please drop off/collect your pet from close to the doors, but if you are waiting for us to call you for your admission, please use another car parking space to allow others to drop off or collect their pets.
  • We will meet you at your car, admit your pet and our expert teams will assess your pet. We will then phone you or arrange a video consultation to discuss the case and discuss the treatment options with you. We are offering the video consultations through the app Zoom. Please direct your phone's browser to zoom.us or download the app. We will share the meeting code with you for your appointment.
  • If your pet needs to stay for hospital care, diagnostic investigation or surgery, we will discuss the clinical, logistical and financial aspects of this and arrange the necessary paperwork. We will explain how we can do this electronically or over the phone.
  • Please make sure that the person bringing the pet:
  • Is not currently positive for COVID-19
  • Is not in a quarantine arrangement due to recent travel history, or has had exposure to a person with known or possible COVID-19 infection in the last 2 weeks
  • Is well with no respiratory symptoms

If you are travelling from NSW, please go to https://www.qld.gov.au/border-pass to apply for a permit. Choose the 'compassionate entry or compulsion of law' option. Please bring your appointment confirmation as supporting evidence.

All Australians are working with each other to help manage the emerging COVID-19/Coronavirus problem. At Veterinary Specialist Services we are taking steps as part of this to help do our bit. COVID-19 has reached a stage where community transmission is occurring, and the source of the transmission is not always evident. The quarantine periods and other advice given by the health department are for the benefit of all Australians and are aimed at reducing the load on the health system so everyone gets the care they need should they become ill. Recommendations as to how these precautions should be implemented are changing all the time and we will strive to provide an environment where we can continue to deliver the best possible patient care, while also looking after the health needs of our valued clients and staff members.

Apart from implementing the drop off system, steps we have taken include:

  • Preliminary screening over the phone. If you are unwell, have had contact with someone with COVID-19 or have travelled overseas recently please tell us. We can still see your pet and give them the care they need. We would ask you to have a well friend, family member, dog sitter or Animal Ambulance bring your pet in. This person should not be someone who you have spent time with while affected. We will treat the pets with appropriate precautions to keep us and them safe. We can have a consultation with you over the phone and then give your pet the treatment it needs. 
  • Email communication of current protocols. We will ask for your email address so we can send you information about the current protocols once your appointment is confirmed.
  • Reducing the amount of face to face time between our team members and clients. We know you love your pets and we will care for them as we always do even if you can't be with us physically. We'll keep you up to date with your pet's progress in hospital.
  • Frequently cleaning of commonly used services and areas. We will reduce any potential environmental contamination by cleaning with agents that have effect against corona viruses, particularly COVID-19. We have detailed cleaning protocols and use agents with high levels of proven efficacy based on external advice.
  • Splitting our teams to minimise any disruption to services associated with quarantine. We understand that many of you have a great relationship with our team who treat your pets. In the current circumstances, if one team member tests positive to COVID-19, then it is likely that those working closely with them will have to quarantine. If the whole hospital is affected, then this will interrupt our ability to treat your pet. As such we have split our teams so that in the event of a quarantine, we can continue to offer services at that site. This will mean that we will have to do more communication over the phone as our vets will continue to work from home on the other days. While the vets and nurses are in the clinic, they will be there for a longer time to ensure all patients continue to receive the care they need. We will prioritise patients needing to be seen and use telemedicine for other patients where possible. Please understand that this may mean that your pet will be looked after by different clinicians and nurses. This also means that some of our reception team will work from home each day to continue to receive your phone calls. 
  • We ask you that only one family member brings your pet to our hospital. We are very happy to have other family members join the consultation by phone or video call. If wait times are prolonged and you would like us to admit your pet while you wait elsewhere, we are happy to do this. For the time being we are not allowing families to visit their pets in hospital, but we will happy to send photos of them to you. We will make an exception for euthanasia provided the person attending is well as we know that this is important to families.

Update to Veterinary Specialist Services Departmental Availability

We have split our teams into groups at the Underwood and Carrara hospitals and stopped movement between sites to minimise the risk where possible of COVID-19 infections interrupting our service delivery. Please see below updated staff availability.
Update to Veterinary Specialist Services Departmental Availability

Cardiology Referral Options

Update as of 7 Apr 2020: Dr Fiona Meyers and Dr Chris Lam will transfer to the Carrara practice following a short break. This means that from after the Easter break (23 April 2020), Cardiology will be available at Carrara and Underwood, with the cardiology services working within VSS teams on site and their rotations. Dr Brad Gavaghan will continue to offer cardiology services through the Underwood practice. The cardiology team will also have a telemedicine consultation service available - please contact any of the VSS practices if you would like to arrange this for your patients.

A guide for Gold Coast and Northern NSW vet clinics during coronavirus schedule restrictions. Please see below or click here to read or download the flowchart.

For more information about how the cardiology services at VSS will be affected at this time, please read the following blog post.

Cardiology referral options for Gold Coast and Northern NSW vet clinics during coronavirus schedule restrictions

Hospital Protocols

VSS and AES have collaborated on shared hospital protocols in the current environment. Dr Ellie Leister from Pet ICU has lead the production of these protocols. Please find the latest versions linked below and feel free to use them in your practice:

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Related Information

 

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