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ST FRANCIS: QUESTIONS & ANSWERS



Thank you for all of your support, gratitude and partnership over these past months. We too long for normalcy, but if we have to continue to negotiate these challenging times, we are incredibly grateful to do so with each of you.

We wanted to take this opportunity to share some questions and answers with all of you. We have structured this section to reflect the questions that we’ve heard voiced by you.

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"We miss seeing you. When can we come back into the building with our pets?"

We truly miss you too. We miss showing you our exam findings in person, talking with you one-on-one, and sharing stories, laughter, and tears. Unfortunately, with the current pandemic trends, it will likely be awhile before any of this is possible.

Businesses must remain at 50% capacity. Because we have a small physical space, this requirement limits us to fewer than 19 people in the building. On any given day, we meet those limits with our veterinary team alone. In addition, physical distancing is very challenging in our exam rooms.

Curbside service has become the standard of care across the veterinary industry. Our curbside care continues to evolve and we hope that you find that we are delivering the very best care possible for you and your pets under these unusual circumstances.

"My pet will need an appointment in August. How does this curbside service work?"

  • Prior to your appointment, we will send you a curbside history form to fill out in advance. This will allow you to share your concerns with the veterinarian.
  • When you arrive for your visit, park in a designated parking space and call the Appointment Line. This will provide you with a direct line to our concierge team.
  • When the doctor is ready, a veterinary assistant will retrieve your pet. You can help by making your carrier readily accessible or by stepping your dog out of the car. For dogs, we ask that you to help us add a second leash, and if your dog requires a muzzle, that you place this before we bring him or her into the building.
  • It is very important that you provide us with a cell phone number that you will be reachable at. The veterinarian will call you to discuss your pet's examination findings and treatment recommendations.
  • A member of our veterinary team will follow up with you to complete the check out process and take payment over the phone. We will then return your pet, paperwork, and any food, medications or products to your car. We ask that you remain in the parking lot during these appointments so that we can complete this process as quickly as possible.

"Why does my dog need two leashes?"

We are near a very busy road. We’ve seen dogs slip out of their collars or harnesses. In order to prevent this from happening to your pet, we require every dog to have two leashes. Every cat or small mammal should be transported in a carrier.

"I need to pick up medications. What can I expect?"

We are offering a contactless delivery of all medications, food, and products.

  • Please request all medication or food refills at least 24-48 hours in advance via voicemail, email, PetDesk, or our website. When feasible, we ask that you pay in advance.
  • When you arrive, park in a designated parking space and call the Curbside Pick Up Line. This will provide you with a direct line to our concierge team.
  • If needed, we will take your payment over the phone, then bring your food, medications or products out to the bin associated with your parking space. If you are picking up a controlled substance, we will ask you to leave your ID on the table for us to review.

If you would prefer to order your medications online, you may access our Vetsource online store via our website at www.stfrancisanimalandbird.com.

"Can I use the restroom while I wait?"

We do not have a public restroom available, but there is one available at the laundromat next door to St Francis. If needed, you may leave the parking lot temporarily to use the restroom.

"Do we need to wear masks at St Francis?"

We do ask that you wear a mask when interacting with our team members, even when you are outside in the parking lot. In order for us to continue to be here to care for your pets, we need our team to remain healthy. All of our team members are wearing masks at all times.

"We have had a lot of difficulty reaching you on the phone. Why?"

Our call volume has been extraordinary during COVID-19. On most days, we are averaging 900-1200 phone calls per day. While we are doing our best to answer these calls, it is not possible to answer all of them. At any given moment, we may all be caring for a patient or helping another client.

We now have a phone tree that will allow you to access our contact information, directions, and hours; leave a message with a refill request, leave a message for an appointment request; or leave a general message. You will also have the option to stay in the call queue, or in the case of a life-threatening emergency for your pet, be connected directly to an emergency facility.

We have two cell phones specifically for our curbside service. One cell phone is dedicated to those who are in the parking lot checking in for an appointment, while the other is for those who have arrived to pick up a pet, medications, or food. It is best to call the appropriate cell phone line rather than the main line when you arrive in our parking lot.

"If we have a question, need a medication refilled, or want to schedule an appointment, are there other ways that we can reach you?"

Yes! You may request medication refills or appointments by clicking the appropriate buttons on our website. For patient updates, non-critical questions, refill requests, or appointment requests, feel free to email us at group@stfrancisabh.com or leave a voicemail at (651) 645-2808. If you have not yet downloaded the PetDesk app, this is another excellent way to schedule appointments, request refills, or review your pet’s vaccine history.

"We have a very difficult time getting an appointment. Is your schedule really booked out four weeks?"

Yes, it is. At this time, our first available routine appointment is August 27th. With COVID-19, the veterinary industry has seen an unprecedented surge in the request for appointments. Many pet owners are home with their pets and noticing abnormalities. Some pets are more active with their owners and may therefore be more prone to injuries. Many new pets are being adopted during this time.

If you are scheduling your pet’s wellness or vaccine visit, we will schedule the visit at or near the due date to allow more immediate space for pets with urgent needs. For pets with urgent medical conditions, we are holding a subset of our appointments for urgent care visits. Lastly, we are reserving all of our appointments for existing clients; we are not accepting any new clients at this time so that we can offer the best care possible for our existing patients.

"My pet had an emergency and I was told to go to the emergency/urgent care facility. Why wouldn’t you see my pet?"

Veterinary medicine is similar to human medicine. You see your family practice physician for your preventative care and most ailments, but sometimes you need to visit an urgent care facility or an emergency department, either because of the nature of your illness, the immediacy of your needs, or the hours during which you need care. The same is true for veterinary care for your pets.

For some emergency conditions, your pet requires more advanced care, monitoring, or specialized equipment than we are able to provide in general practice. Examples include patients with respiratory distress, heat stroke, status epilepticus or prolonged seizures, acute trauma, urinary obstruction, bloat, or gastric dilation volvulus (GDV). These patients will be directed to an emergency care facility.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created challenges for veterinary practices. Our caseloads are much higher, curbside appointments take longer, and we may have staff or doctor shortages that limit the care that we are able to provide to our patients. While we try to see as many of our own patients for urgent care or medical needs as possible, we are often exceeding our capacity. We always have the patient’s best interest in mind. If we do not feel that we have the ability to provide the care that your pet needs, we will recommend that you go to an urgent care or emergency facility instead.

We know that going elsewhere with a sick pet is scary. We understand that you just want to come to St Francis. Know that we work closely with the Animal Emergency & Referral Center in Oakdale (651-501-3766) (www.aercmn.com), Como Park After Hours (651-487-3255), the University of Minnesota (612-626-8387) and Blue Pearl in Blaine (763-754-5000) to serve as extensions of St Francis. We trust their teams to provide the care your pet needs when we cannot. Afterwards, we will receive a comprehensive report and will follow up with you. We always want what is best for your pet, and sometimes the best care at that moment is at one of these locations.

"We tried to go to an urgent care facility, but the wait was going to be three hours. Why?"

All veterinary practices are in the same situation. We are all struggling to meet the patient care demands before us. If we need to refer you to an urgent care facility, we will email you a list of our recommended urgent care facilities for you to contact in advance. At any given moment, one facility may have long wait times while others have more availability.

"Why don’t you just hire more people to take care of our pets, answer the phones, or fill our pets’ medications?"

During the past four months, we are so grateful to have hired a veterinarian, Dr. Megan Schommer; two veterinary technicians, Jessie Pudil, CVT and Mickayla Schulz, CVT; a veterinary assistant, Lillian Schmitz; and a client service representative, Stacy Gustafson.

We would love to expand our team during this time. However, in addition to the staffing crisis that the veterinary industry has been experiencing for the past several years, COVID-19 has created additional challenges. We have a very small facility, and in the State of Minnesota, we are restricted to 50% capacity indoors. We are currently at our capacity. To help meet your needs, we have an additional team of veterinary technicians working remotely. You will find them answering your voicemails, PetDesk requests, and emails from their homes.

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We hope this provides some answers to the questions you’ve voiced. Thank you again to everyone who provided us with insight and advice and who provided honest feedback as we’ve adjusted our protocols throughout these months. We are so fortunate to have amazing partnerships with all of you in the care of your loved ones, now more than ever. We are always striving to improve and be the very best that we can be. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to reach out to us at group@stfrancisabh.com or (651) 645-2808.

NEWS BRIEFS

St Francis Closures

We will be closed for a staff meeting on Wednesday August 26th from 1:00-2:30 pm. We will be closed Friday September 4th through Monday September 7th for our staff to enjoy a long weekend with their families for Labor Day.

Nextdoor Neighborhood Favorite

Thank you to everyone who voted for us as your Nextdoor Neighborhood Favorite. We are honored to be your neighborhood favorite!

Vaccines

We are now offering combination vaccines for our canine patients in addition to our feline patients. If your dog is due for multiple vaccines, we now have a Lyme + Leptospirosis vaccine and a DAPP + Lyme + Leptospirosis vaccine. Everyone is happier with fewer injections!