2020 Membership Renewal

If you haven’t already done so, it’s not too late to renew your 2020 membership! The Hawaii Veterinary Medical Association is a not-for-profit organization that depends upon our member participation and dues. Your dues enable us to host regular CE, provide scholarships for veterinary and veterinary technician students, advocate on behalf of the veterinary profession in Hawaii, and give back to our community. During the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the HVMA immediately fought for Hawaii veterinarians to be included as essential service providers, provided timely information on COVID-19 updates and resources, and helped to secure multiple pet food donations for affected families throughout Hawaii. We understand that 2020 is a difficult year for many, but if it is within your budget, HVMA would greatly appreciate your continued support.

Social Media and HVMA

by Michelle Barbieri, MS, DVM, HVMA Oahu representative

A few weeks ago, I was chatting with a friend on a run and learned about the Influencers in the Wild page on Instagram. If you haven’t checked it out, and are looking for a laugh and a bit of relief from the realities of 2020, you should. It shows bystander videos of people that are trying to get that perfect video or picture worthy of social media stardom, along with all the really poor decisions they make in that pursuit (I believe this is where TikTok comes in, but that’s really pushing the extent of my understanding!).

Why am I writing about this in the HVMA newsletter? Well, while it shows that I am far from the cutting edge of understanding what’s “in” (especially in terms of social media), I also recognize that there are lots of ways that information gets shared these days. And that is why the HVMA Board decided it was worth trying to start sharing some information on Facebook.

Some of you may have been aware of a private Facebook group called “COVID-19 discussion group for Hawaii veterinarians” that was initiated by HVMA earlier this year. We will be reframing that page to include more than just COVID-19 specific content. It will remain a veterinarian-only page. In order to join, you do not need to be an HVMA member, but we will require that those interested in joining the group answer a short questionnaire and have a current member of the group sponsor them; this helps us ensure that it is kept as a safe space for dialogue between professionals.

We will also soon have a public HVMA page that will allow us to serve as a resource to connect with our community, share information, and show the outward-facing side of the HVMA. I hope that you will all engage as these pages go live and help us maximize the potential that they have for our professional group and our community as a whole.

Letter from the President – Nov 2020

Aleisha Swartz, DVM
HVMA President

I write this with a bit of sadness knowing we are missing our usual opportunity  to see friends and colleagues at the annual meeting. This year has brought challenges like no other in our lifetimes and our connection to one another has helped us all adapt and find ways to continue our very important work. I hope you can all join us at our virtual meeting Saturday 11/14, and that we can resume in person gatherings in the not too distant future. 

The HVMA Executive Board continues to advocate for members and the animals and people of Hawaii. We have continued our meetings virtually and uninterrupted during this time. Your membership dues are essential in maintaining our ability to continue as an organization so please renew if you have not already done so. 

Our involvement as a supporting agency to the state and counties during emergencies has also continued. As flights outside the state were reduced in March the opportunities for adoption placement outside the state became extremely limited. Shelters across Hawaii have relied on out of state transport for adoption placement when local opportunities are exhausted. The lack of flights put our local shelters at risk of being beyond their capacity and reducing their ability to help other animals in need.  Greater Good Charities responded to a request for assistance to transport pets to the continental US. They have coordinated an unprecedented flight of dogs and cats to animal welfare organizations in the pacific northwest. Many of the pets have adoptive homes already before they even land! This is an effort we have supported closely working with HI-EMA, GGC, Wings of Rescue and shelters from Kauai, Oahu, Lanai, Maui, and Hawaii Island. This has also provided the opportunity for further disaster planning, collaboration and training for the state, our association and local animal welfare organizations.

It has been an honor to serve as the HVMA President the last two years and I will continue to support the association as I move on to the role of Past President. Please do not hesitate to reach out if there is anything the HVMA can do to support your work as veterinarians in Hawaii.

Aloha,
Aleisha Swartz

Letter from the President – Aug 2020

Aleisha Swartz, DVM
HVMA President

I hope this message finds you all well. This has been a challenging year so far for us all, regardless of practice type. The support from one another has made a significant positive impact on the ability to be more resilient in the face of incredible uncertainty and change. 

The HVMA Executive Board has been working hard to provide support for members, the veterinary community in general as well as the animals and people of Hawaii. We are coming up with creative solutions to continue to provide continuing education opportunities, increase connection between members, and are participating in the emergency response in partnership with HI-EMA.  Please be sure to renew your membership. Even though the annual conference will not be as we hoped in 2020, we are still working hard on your behalf and your dues help keep this organization going.

Since March HVMA has received donations of 2 containers of dog/cat food as well as coupons for several thousand bags of food from Greater Good. The Humane Society of the United States donated the cost of transportation of a recent shipment. This food is available to pet owners suffering from COVID-related financial hardship through community foodbanks and human service agencies.  We have also shared food with local humane societies for their pet food banks. We are currently supporting efforts to secure donations of feed for horses whose owners are also suffering from financial hardship. And during all of this we are working with HI-EMA in disaster response as needed, most recently in the hurricane near miss (thankfully). 

While we were trying to flatten the curve, reduce the spread of COVID and continue our practice of veterinary medicine we were confronted with another painful reality. A bystander recorded the murder of George Floyd on a public street and the experience that exists for so many people became impossible to avoid any longer.  Some may ask what does this have to do with veterinary medicine? A video recently released by the Multicultural Veterinary Medical Association in partnership with 9 other diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) affinity organizations highlights the existence of racism and discrimination in our profession. The video was shared at the AVMA HOD meeting last week and I highly encourage everyone to watch it. We are fortunate in Hawaii to live in a place with greater diversity than most, but we are not exempt from racism. There is a need to become more informed as individuals and take action to change the lack of diversity and presence of racism in the profession.  For more information including resources, links to other affinity organizations, and how to get involved visit https://www.mcvma.org/wakeup.  

The American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) has also recognized the importance of increasing diversity and states that “racism is a public health issue, and every sector of society has a role to play in finding a cure.”  Visit the AAVMC’s website for more information on what steps they are doing to increase diversity in our profession. They host a podcast shared on a youtube and soundcloud channel for those interested in becoming more informed, links can be found here https://www.aavmc.org/diversity/diversity-and-inclusion-on-air.

If you have feedback on what the HVMA can do to increase diversity, equity and inclusion in veterinary medicine in Hawaii please contact me. 

Aloha,
Aleisha Swartz

In Remembrance – Dr. Jessica Massengale

Jessica Massengale, DVM

Dr. Jessica Claire Lee Massengale, 34, of Kaneohe, Hawaii, died peacefully on Thursday, July 9, 2020. She was born in Huntington, West Virginia, on May 18, 1986 to Roger and Debra Massengale and baptized as a child at First United Methodist Church, Paintsville, Kentucky.

A life-long learner, Jessi received her high school diploma in 2004 from Virginia Episcopal School in Lynchburg, Virginia, graduated in 2008 from Midway College with her Bachelor Degree in Equine Therapy and earned her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine in 2014 from Auburn University. She was a dedicated and beloved doctor of animals at Haiku Veterinarian Clinic in Kaneohe. She loved all things pertaining to horses and rode on Equestrian teams for both Virginia Episcopal School and Midway College. She had an adventuresome spirit, was learning to kayak, and especially enjoyed hiking with her dogs.

In addition to her parents, she is survived by her sister, Sarah Anne and brother-in-law Mårten Waern, Stockholm, Sweden; maternal grandmother, Clara Marcum, Ashland, Kentucky; paternal grandmother, Norma Jean Massengale, Wayne County, Kentucky; aunts, Catherine (Fred) Waits, Shelbyville, Kentucky; Linda (John) Lash, Athens, Georgia; uncle, Scott Massengale, Wayne County, Kentucky; and many cousins. Her family, a host of friends, colleagues, clients, and her faithful dog companions, Bodhi and Marley, will miss her.

Memorial contributions may be made to your local animal shelter, pet charity, or allow an animal to adopt you in Jessi’s memory.

Letter from the President – April 2020

Aleisha Swartz, DVM
HVMA President

I hope this finds you, your ohana, staff and colleagues in good health. I don’t think any of us would have predicted the rapid changes that have occurred across the planet since the January newsletter. Normal as we knew it and our regular daily operations feel like a bit of a distant memory right now. But thankfully in every dark cloud there are many silver linings.

Veterinarians, like other public health stewards, are trained problem solvers and we have been working hard to solve our problems, from those at home to in our businesses and in our communities. I have been amazed seeing the innovation and effort by Hawaii veterinarians as they work to protect their teams, ensure care for animals in need and service to the people of Hawaii and beyond.

The HVMA has been working hard on behalf of members and the animals and citizens of Hawaii during the pandemic. We have proactively and successfully advocated for more flexible use of telemedicine during this challenging time to maintain care for animals while keeping people safe. We have set up a Facebook group for Hawaii veterinarians to keep in touch and share with one another and have hosted weekly virtual meetings where we discuss the current knowledge about SARS CoV-2, its impact on animals and practices. We responded to a request for assistance from HI-EMA and City and County of Honolulu to support pet owners during this emergency. During this time, we have spent many hours each week participating in HI-EMA and Honolulu Department of Emergency Management calls to ensure animal needs are met. The HVMA was able to secure a grant from Greater Good of 22 pallets of dog and cat food and 4 pallets of litter to be used for COVID-related emergency sheltering or for pet owners in need due to financial hardship so many are currently facing. The shipping to Hawaii was graciously donated by a local business and The Salvation Army was instrumental in coordinating the food delivery from California. It has been delivered to animal shelters and human food service distribution partners on Kauai, Oahu, Maui and Hawaii Island. We will continue to seek support for pet owners in financial distress so that they can continue to care for their family members during this challenging time. We know the importance of the human-animal bond is perhaps more important than ever during this time of social distancing.

I encourage you to reach out to us if there is anything, we can do to support your work and businesses. More than at any other time it is essential that we are caring for ourselves and doing what we can to stay healthy. Get lots of sleep, eat good food, enjoy the beautiful outdoors when you can and make time for self-care. We cannot care for others if we do not first care for ourselves. If you have been contemplating taking up meditation for a long time now and need a reason this is a good one. Just sitting quietly and breathing for a brief time can work wonders to help manage the stressful times a little bit better. Take care of your families and colleagues as well. Be kind to one another and give thanks to all of those working so hard to keep us safe. I feel so fortunate to be in a state that has done so much to protect its citizens. I also feel so fortunate to be surrounded by peers in a profession that is critical to preventing and solving this and the next zoonotic outbreak. The importance and need for veterinarians is greater now than ever.

On behalf of the board I wish you health and well-being in the rest of 2020 and beyond. I hope to hear more from you on what we can do to support you as a Hawaii veterinarian.

Aloha,
Aleisha Swartz

New Board Members Wanted!

2020 is an election year and we are looking for anyone interested in bringing new ideas and energy to our organization. The positions open for nominations include Pres-Elect, VP, Secretary, Treasurer, Executive VP, Oahu Reps and Kauai Rep. Please don’t be shy and contact the nominating committee for more info!

In Remembrance – Joseph Herzog

Joseph Herzog, DVM

Dr. Joseph Herzog (Wisconsin ’97), 58, Kailua, Hawaii, died April 13 , 2020 of metastatic prostate cancer. Twelve years ago, Dr. Herzog moved to Oahu when his wife became a professor in Humanities and English UH West Oahu. He first worked at VCA Family and Oahu Veterinary Specialty Center, and then moved closer to home in Kailua at Makai Animal Hospital and part-time at Surf Paws Animal Hospital in Hawaii Kai.

Dr. Herzog was deeply involved in establishing, building, teaching in, and gaining AVMA accreditation for the first and only Veterinary Technician training program and associates degree in the state. In March 2020, the program dedicated the surgery suite in his honor.

He was active in the local veterinary community and volunteered at the Hawaii Humane Society. He served on the Board of the Hawaii Veterinary Medical Association as an Oahu Representative from 2018-2020, and Conference Committee member since 2017.

Dr. Joe always said he would see anything a client could bring through the door, and he treated beloved chickens, parrots, tortoises, and the occasional pot-bellied pig and pygmy goat in clinic. However, throughout his career he also treated bigger exotics. He served as the on-call veterinarian at the Santa Barbara Zoo and San Francisco Zoo, and he was the veterinarian of record for the Sea Life Park/Mauna Lani honu breeding and release program. He always enjoyed the challenge of a new animal and facing a new disease or injury.

Dr. Herzog is survived by his wife, Brenda Machosky, mother Rose Marie Farthing, father Ernest Herzog (Terry), brother Thomas Herzog (Jeff Kaufmann), and extended family in Illinois, New York and Virginia. He was predeceased by his beloved grandmother, Stella King, and step-father Howard Farthing. He is also survived by beloved dogs Bella, Potiki, and Fenway, and cats Huika and KoaKat.

Services will be announced at a later date. There is a memorial Facebook page that all are welcome to join: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1049974025388957/

Donations: Payable to UH Foundation with memo: Dr. Herzog Vet Tech Endowment, Account #206-2860-3, mailed to Donna Gutierrez, UH Foundation, 1314 S. King Street, Suite B, Honolulu, HI 96814, or online at: www.uhfoundation.org/HonoringDrHerzog

Submitted by Brenda Machosky

COVID-19 RESOURCES

Updated 5/6/2020

Quick Links to COVID-19 Resources:

AVMA COVID-19 webpage
CDC Guidance to Veterinary Practices
Infection Control in Veterinary Practices
Utilizing Telemedicine
Conserving Mask and Gown Resources
Hawaii State Updates on COVID-19
Hawaiian Humane Society Updated Services

US Government Resources:

Coronavirus Response Business Toolkit
Disaster Assistance Loans from the SBA
Disaster Help Desk for Small Businesses

Join the Discussion

https://www.facebook.com/groups/808COVIDvets/

COVID-19 Vet Resource Survey

Please help Hawaii better understand our veterinary resources (PPE, ventilator equipment, staff) by filling out our survey.

If you are looking to immediately donate any PPE or help with sewn cloth mask donations, please see UH School of Medicine’s Masks4HI webpage.

Guidance on Resuming Elective Services

Veterinary Medicine is an essential business that is part of the critical infrastructure of the United States. Many states did not place formal restrictions on the practice of veterinary medicine, while some states and localities instituted restrictions upon performing non-urgent or elective procedures.

During this crisis, veterinarians continue to exercise their professional judgment as to which services and procedures are urgent or potentially urgent (including those that may be necessary to protect certain vulnerable animal populations, prevent adverse effects on public health, or ensure the safety and security of the food supply if not performed) and which might be postponed. The AVMA also developed case management and triage decision trees to help veterinarians determine urgent and potentially urgent cases, using their professional judgment; support social distancing; and assist in conserving personal protective equipment (PPE).

At this time, resuming non-urgent or elective veterinary services is appropriate. There is a backlog of demand for elective or non-urgent veterinary care that is important for the health and welfare of animals. Failure to provide comprehensive  veterinary care places both animal and public health at risk. Veterinarians have adapted to conserve PPE that is in short supply for the delivery of human healthcare, and the original concern that performing non-urgent or elective veterinary procedures would negatively impact the availability of PPE for human healthcare providers has largely been ameliorated. Veterinarians should have also incorporated creative and effective measures that are consistent with social distancing recommendations and limit person-to-person exposure for staff and clients.

As veterinarians resume providing non-urgent/elective services, veterinary practices should continue invoking strategies that conserve PPE and support social distancing as appropriate and practical. Some measures that have been adopted, as appropriate to practice type, include:

  • Triaging appointments by phone or videoconference, and handling via telemedicine as medically appropriate and as permissible under federal and state law and guidance on what is permissible during the COVID-19 disaster declaration.
  • Inquiring as to whether the client or caretaker is ill with, or may have been exposed to, COVID-19. If so, encouraging someone other than the ill client to bring the patient to the hospital, if in-person care is necessary, or providing care via telemedicine if medically appropriate and permissible under federal and state law and guidance on what is permissible during the COVID-19 disaster declaration.
  • Scheduling appointments so that patient flow can be managed, and social distancing of clients maintained.
  • Restricting the number of clients waiting in the lobby for their appointments and enforcing social distancing.
  • Directly admitting clients and patients to examination rooms from their cars, rather than having them wait in the lobby.
  • Curb-side pickup of patients, keeping clients out of clinics except when required. This includes having clients remain in their vehicles in the parking lot while the patient is evaluated, with veterinarian/client communication by phone or videochat.
  • Curbside delivery of medication refills and veterinary diets
  • Encouraging clients who travel to the clinic to don cloth face coverings.
  • Having staff, rather than owners, hold animals during examinations.
  • Extra attention to cleaning of often-touched surfaces, including an increase in frequency.
  • Adoption of PPE conservation strategies, including extended use of disposable PPE (as appropriate) and replacement of disposable PPE with reusable and appropriately maintained/sterilized cloth gowns and masks.
  • Conducting daily health assessments or self-evaluations of employees, requiring staff to stay home if sick, and immediately sending staff home if they become ill while at work.
  • Dividing clinic staff into teams, so that if a team member is known to be exposed to or becomes ill with COVID-19, it largely localizes risk to that team while allowing important veterinary services to continue to be provided.
  • Diligently apply practices to prevent the spread of infectious disease, such as frequent handwashing and wearing gloves whenever appropriate.

CDC Guidance to Veterinarians

CDC has published new Interim Infection Prevention and Control Guidance for Veterinary Clinics during the COVID-19 Response. This guidance is for veterinarians and veterinary staff providing care to companion animals. The intent of this guidance is to facilitate preparedness and to ensure practices are in place in a veterinary clinical setting to help people and animals stay safe and healthy.

SARS-CoV-2 Animal Testing

Routine testing of animals for COVID-19 is NOT recommended by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians (AAVLD), National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians (NASPHV), or the National Assembly of State Animal Health Officials. Nor is it recommended by key federal agencies, including the CDC and USDA.

Current expert understanding is that SARS-CoV-2 is primarily transmitted person-to-person. There is currently no evidence that animals can transmit this virus to people. In rare instances, people have spread the virus to certain animals.

Veterinarians are strongly encouraged to rule out more common causes for clinical signs in animals before considering testing for SARS-CoV-2. The CDC, USDA, and other federal partners have created guidance, including a table of epidemiological risk factors and clinical features for SARS-CoV-2 in animals to help guide decisions regarding animal testing.

The decision to test an animal should be made collaboratively between the attending veterinarian and local, state, and/or federal public health and animal health officials after careful consideration of this guidance as provided.

AVMA-AAVLD-NASPHV-NASAHO Joint Statement on Animal Testing

Telemedicine Expansion Order

On March 29th, Governor Ige signed an executive order allowing veterinarians to practice telemedicine without a previously established Veterinary-Client-Patient-Relationship (VCPR) or physical examination of the patient to establish a VCPR. This order remains in effect only during the COVID-19 emergency period. Read full executive order here.

We are extremely appreciative that our local government is enabling us to continue to care for patients while we respect the current social distancing and shelter-in-place orders to prevent the spread of COVID-19. AVMA has laid out specific guidance on Telemedicine.

On March 24th, FDA announced that they are taking steps to temporarily suspend enforcement of certain federal VCPR requirements as it relates to allowing veterinary telemedicine during this period of social distancing. This change only affects regulations regarding extralabel drug use in animals and veterinary feed directives. Read press announcement here.

AVMA Resources

Interim recommendations for intake of companion animals from households where humans with COVID-19 are present

Considerations for food animal veterinarians during the COVID-19 pandemic

AVMA Social Media Posts/Images

Available Webinars

  • CARES Act small business loan programs
    Learn how to prepare for the new Paycheck Protection Program launching Friday, and understand how it compares with the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Economic Injury Disaster Loans.
  • COVID-19 Insurance Claims and CARES Act Leave Provisions
    Understand the paid leave and unemployment insurance provisions in the stimulus package and how they might apply to you and your business in this webinar with insurance and employment law experts – sponsored by AVMA LIFE and AVMA PLIT.

Essential vs. Non-Essential Services

HVMA and AVMA are working to educate our state and local governments on the essential services that veterinarians provide. We strongly discourage veterinarians from offering non-essential services during this period as this undermines our efforts. Continuing to offer or promote non-essential services during this period of government-mandated social distancing increases the risk of virus transmission to our staff, our clients, and our communities at large. Additionally, continuing to perform non-essential procedures and surgeries uses up limited resources that are in short supply and may be necessary for essential procedures and surgeries in the near future. Please consider the serious consequences of continuing practice as usual in the face of the rapid and undetected spread of COVID-19. Below are several guidelines to help you determine which services are essential.

“As restrictions in elective or non-essential services are put in place, either voluntarily or through government or regulatory body mandates, careful consideration of what is considered essential is needed. Essential procedures include those required to alleviate animal pain and suffering, to prevent imminent threat of death of the animal, and matters pertaining to public health (e.g. vaccination against rabies). Other considerations may be involved, including supply availability, the ability of the clinic to practice appropriate social distancing, and factors related to management of specific cases either in the clinic or at home.

“Recommendations may change based on our growing understanding of this disease, changes in messaging from governments and regulators, and as this pandemic evolves. Veterinarians and owners must understand this is a fluid situation and the goal cannot be maintaining “business as usual” but rather providing the optimal outcomes for animals, owners and veterinary facilities, while doing our part to support social distancing efforts. Any consultations that do not absolutely require physical contact with the animal should be done via telemedicine.”

Read full OVMA guidelines including owner risk assessment and social distancing in practice (pdf).

WSAVA Vaccine Guidelines During COVID-19

The World Small Animal Veterinary Association has released guidelines advising veterinarians on routine prophylactic vaccination (pdf) during the COVID-19 pandemic response.

DIY N95 Replacement Mask

The University of Florida Health’s department of anesthesiology has developed 2 prototypes for respirator masks that can be produced in large quantities using materials already found in hospitals and medical facilities. The makeshift mask uses Halyard H600 two-ply spun polypropylene that cannot be penetrated by water, bacteria, or particles. It blocks 99.9% of particulates, making the masks about 4% more effective at blocking particulate material than the N95 masks. Read more and see tutorials here.

Federal CARES Act

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) was passed and signed on Friday March 27th. The CARES Act seeks to:

  • Support businesses to retain their employees and maintain operations
  • Expand unemployment insurance benefits in light of COVID-19 emergency
  • Provide individual support

AVMA has provided resources here to help veterinarians understand and interpret this legislation.

Statewide Stay-At-Home Order 3/25 – 4/30

Effective March 25 through April 30, 2020, everyone in the State of Hawai‘i is required to stay at home or in their place of residence. This supplement to Governor David Ige’s emergency proclamation was announced on March 23, 2020. Read more here.

Under the proclamation, individuals may leave their home or place of residence only for essential activities, to engage in essential businesses and operations, and only if their work cannot be conducted through remote technology from home.

Veterinarians are currently considered essential businesses. Please continue to refrain from offering non-essential services during this period so we can maintain this status. Offering or promoting non-essential services uses up limited resources that are in short supply and may be necessary for essential procedures and surgeries in the near future. Additionally, encouraging clients to come into public spaces during this period of government-mandated social distancing increases the risk of virus transmission to our staff, clients, and communities at large.

Self-Quarantine for Travelers Arriving After 3/26

Effective, Thursday, March 26, 2020, all persons entering the State of Hawai‘i must self-quarantine for 14 days or for the duration of their stay in Hawai‘i, whichever is shorter. Residents returning to Hawaii must also self-quarantine in a designated location in their residence. If you are assisting with pet travel into the state of Hawaii, please notify pet owners of the self-quarantine requirement.

The Rabies Quarantine Station in Halawa Valley is currently closed to visitors. Pets may be released from quarantine as soon as the mandatory quarantine period is completed.
Details on self-quarantine procedures (pdf)

State and Federal Tax Relief

Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and State of Hawaii Department of Taxation have postponed the due dates for payment and filing of 2019 Federal and State income tax returns to July 2020. Additional action is not needed by Income taxpayers to participate in this tax relief program.
IRS Website
State of Hawaii Department of Taxation Website
State of Hawaii Department of Taxation Announcement 2020-01 (pdf)

Am I Doing the Right Thing?

During this time of undetected spread of COVID-19, please protect your staff, your clients, and your community. If you or one of your staff becomes ill or is known to be exposed to COVID-19, in addition to concerns about your and their wellbeing, there is the possibility that you will be asked by public health officials to temporarily close your practice for personnel isolation and facility cleaning.

With this risk in mind, veterinarians should work to reschedule all nonessential appointments so as to limit public exposure. This includes wellness visits for vaccinations, spay/neuter procedures, routine dental procedures, and anything that can be safely delayed for a few weeks to months.

Veterinary staff members who have symptoms of acute respiratory illness should stay at home and should not return to work until they are free of fever (fever is defined as a temperature of 100.4F or higher, using an oral thermometer), signs of a fever, and any other symptoms for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing or other symptom-altering medicine (e.g., cough suppressants).

In addition, veterinary clinics should be aware that the limit on statewide gatherings of 10 people applies to activity in their clinics.

Telemedicine and emergency teletriage within the context of an existing VCPR can be extremely helpful in limiting your staff’s exposure, and enable you to support and monitor the health of your patients and conform to local requirements, while preventing the potential spread of COVID-19. Conducting pre-visit triage can help protect you and your staff as you prioritize and determine which patients need to be seen at the clinic.

Please do the right thing to limit the spread of this disease in our community.

COVID-19 and Pets

  • Infectious disease experts and multiple international and domestic human and animal health organizations agree there is no evidence at this point to indicate that pets become ill with COVID-19 or that they spread it to other animals, including people.
  • If you are not ill with COVID-19, you can interact with your pet as you normally would, including walking, feeding, and playing. You should continue to practice good hygiene during those interactions (e.g., wash hands before and after interacting with your pet; ensure your pet is kept well-groomed; regularly clean your pet’s food and water bowls, bedding material, and toys).
  • Out of an abundance of caution, it is recommended that those ill with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus. Have another member of your household take care of walking, feeding, and playing with your pet. If you have a service animal or you must care for your pet, then wear a facemask; don’t share food, kiss, or hug them; and wash your hands before and after any contact with them.

Managing Veterinary Practice in a Pandemic:

Multiple universities and practices have implemented the following practices to protect the health of their employees, clients, and surrounding communities:

  • Limit patient care to acutely ill animals and/or emergencies. Animals that are sick or injured should receive veterinary attention.
  • Reschedule existing new and recheck appointments that are considered non-essential (unlikely to experience significant harm if treatment is not administered in a timely manner).
  • Reschedule elective procedures.
  • Utilize telemedicine to assess patient condition and needs.
  • If an animal needs to be seen in person, a healthy family member or friend should bring their sick animal to a veterinary hospital or clinic.
  • Have clients drop off their animal and remain in their cars during appointments.
  • When meeting clients, veterinary team members should wear appropriate PPE.
  • In light of limited supply, be strategic in the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), including masks, gowns, and gloves.
  • If a mobile or house call veterinarian must examine an animal in a home where someone is ill with COVID-19 and no other options are available, consult with local public health officials for guidance. Appropriate PPE and access to handwashing and disinfection materials should be considered in all cases.

Keeping Your Veterinary Team Healthy:

  • Veterinary healthcare team members who have symptoms of acute respiratory illness should stay at home and should not return to work until they are free of fever (100.4F or higher, using an oral thermometer) and any other symptoms for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing or other symptom-altering medicine (e.g., cough suppressants).
  • Communicate about COVID-19 with your team. Flexible sick leave policies are important and team members should be made aware of these policies. Team members who appear to have symptoms of acute respiratory illness upon arrival at work or who become sick during the day should be separated from other team members and sent home immediately.
  • If a team member is confirmed to have COVID-19, the veterinary practice owner should inform other team members of their possible exposure to COVID-19, but maintain confidentiality as required by law. Team members who are exposed to another employee with confirmed COVID-19 should contact their physician or local health department to determine how best to proceed. 
  • Surfaces in the veterinary clinic/hospital that are touched frequently, such as workstations, keyboards, doorknobs, countertops, and stethoscopes, should be cleaned often and wiped down by employees with disposable wipes between cleanings.
  • Provide no-touch disposal receptacles.
  • Place hand sanitizers in multiple locations, including in exam rooms, offices, and conference rooms to encourage hand hygiene.
  • Team members should avoid close contact (within approximately 6 feet) with other people who are ill.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after coughing, sneezing, going to the bathroom, and before eating.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Families First Coronavirus Response Act:

On March 18, 2020, the President signed into law the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201). 

The final bill included some significant policy changes from the original proposals that were intended to address both the impacts on small businesses and individuals. We expect lawmakers to continue to address economic measures for small businesses and individuals through future legislative packages.

Lawmakers and the Administration remain engaged in ongoing negotiations to produce additional measures, and AVMA continues to ensure the concerns of the profession are heard as this dynamic situation unfolds.

The final bill includes:

  1. FMLA COVID-19 benefit – This benefit provides up to 12 weeks of family and medical leave benefits related to the coronavirus to be paid at 2/3 of regular pay rates after the first 10 days, which are unpaid. The leave is only available for child care in the event of school closure or if the employee’s child care provider is unavailable due to the public health emergency.
  2. COVID-19 sick leave – This benefit applies up to 80 hours of additional paid sick leave for employees related to the coronavirus. There are daily and aggregate caps on the sick leave benefit of either $511 per day and $5,110 in the aggregate if the employee is sick or quarantined, and $200 per day and $2,000 in aggregate if the employee is caring for someone else.
  3. Potential exemption – There is language granting authority to the Department of Labor to create regulations that can exempt small businesses with fewer than 50 employees from the leave requirements when the imposition of the requirements would jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern.
  4. Tax credits – There are tax credits for employers intended to mitigate the impacts of the expanded leave provisions; and
  5. COVID-19 testing – It provides for free testing for the coronavirus during the emergency.

Read more about the bill here.

3/24/2020 – The Department of Labor just released Frequently Asked Questions documents on the Families First Coronavirus Response Act:

1) DOL FAQ
2) DOL Fact Sheet for Employers
3) DOL Fact Sheet for Employees

  • Significantly, the FAQ DOL indicates the effective date for the Families First Coronavirus Response Act is April 1, 2020, and applies to leave taken between April 1, 2020, and December 31, 2020. 
  • For the exemption for business with fewer than 50 employees when providing the leave under the act would jeopardize the viability of the business, DOL advises that for now employers should document why they believe this to be the case.  DOL then indicates that more detail will be forthcoming in regulations.

Legislative Update – Jan 2020

HVMA has introduced HB 2528 and SB 2985 in the 2020 legislative session. These bills modify Hawaii’s veterinary practice act to 1) provide immunity in the absence of gross negligence to veterinarians who provide emergency care to an animal, and 2) clarify that the duty of a veterinarian includes reporting to law enforcement any cases of animal injury or death where there is reasonable cause to believe that it relates to dog fighting or animal abuse, while granting veterinarians immunity from any civil liability for such reporting. These additions to our veterinary practice act would put Hawaii in line with much of the rest of the United States. A big mahalo to Representative Hashem and Senator Baker for sponsoring the introduction of these bills to the legislature. Please thank them, particularly if you are from their districts!

1/28 Update: First round of SUPPORT testimony needed on this measure by Thursday 1/30! Submit online testimony here. Contact us if you have questions or comments on this measure, or if you are able to go down to the capitol and testify in person.