Nanaimo Veterinary Hospital Offers Virtual Appointments – Nanaimo News Bulletin
A Nanaimo veterinary hospital will host a virtual dating pilot for pet owners on Vancouver Island.
The telemedicine program will operate out of VCA Canada Island Animal Hospital and Dr. Daniel Joffe, VCA Canada’s vice president of medical operations, said it offers clients an appointment via computer or mobile device. The program was planned before COVID-19, but the pandemic accelerated implementation, Joffe said.
Appointments can be booked via video chat and cell phones, with information sent to clients via email invitation. Clients can also have appointments by phone or text, Joffe said.
“The vet’s preference is always if they can get a visual and it can be a phone, it can be a tablet, but some clients are wary of that for various reasons and so we’ll do what the client wants…if it’s not a video chat, so we’ll probably ask the customer to take a video of their pet and send it to us so we can assess it,” he said.
Telemedicine can lighten the load of patients in clinics, but Joffe doesn’t see it leading to the end of traditional veterinary hospitals.
“It’s not a panacea that’s going to make the clinics that are fully set up disappear…because everything is going to be done virtually now, no,” he said. “One of the things that all provinces have is that they require veterinarians and a client to have…a veterinarian-client-patient relationship. It is therefore necessary to develop a relationship with the client before being able to provide virtual care.
Additionally, there are limitations for virtual dates, according to Joffe.
“If a dog is very sick, we have to bring him to the clinic because we have to do a practical physical exam, possibly take blood for analysis, maybe take x-rays, and obviously we cannot do it by telemedicine. . ,” he said. “But if it’s a dog that’s had diarrhea for a few days, but is still eating and drinking and feeling fine; if it’s a dog that has urinary accidents…those scenarios are things that we could often do via telemedicine and often with the caveat that if your pet isn’t better after two or three days, we have to physically see them at the clinic.
Seven VCA clinics on Vancouver Island have access to telemedicine and appointments will be handled by Dr. Melissa Pham of Nanaimo.
“That’s one of the cool things about being virtual is that the patient can be a client of Central Saanich Animal Hospital, which obviously isn’t in Nanaimo, but the medical records come into the record from that patient to their regular hospital, even if it’s a telemedicine vet making the call… she’s able to virtually access and be virtually in each of those clinics,” Joffe said.
For more information, visit www.vcacanada.com/island.