COVID-19 Information Center

Clinic Plan: Dr. Tom Day -- Clinic Protocols
April 8, 2020 (published)
Tom Day

CSR and Triage Personnel


This document will describe protocols for incoming phone calls, walk-in emergency patients and the triage process to help protect our staff and to use our personal protective equipment (PPE) efficiently.

Incoming Phone Calls

Pet owners that call in for an emergency should have several questions asked of them and we should describe our triage process before they present their pet.  Each phone call scenario will likely be different and we should work the following questions into the conversation, as the answers to these questions will help determine the PPE of the triage staff:

  • Politely ask the owner if he/she or any person in the household has any signs of illness (cough, sneeze, runny nose, fever).
  • Politely ask them if they have traveled anywhere local, regional or international in the last 2 weeks and inquire as to the method of travel (airline, car, bus).

If the answer is NO to any of the above questions, explain the triage process that they will encounter:

  • Please ask them not to enter the building (we should have the doors locked as we do during the overnight hours) and remain in their vehicle, regardless of the status of the patient.
  • Ask them to call when they are in the parking lot so you can get their information, create a client/patient in Woofware, and check them in.
  • The triage staff member will then be out to triage the patient.
  • We will then take the patient in the hospital for examination and the doctor will call them once the examination is completed. Owners should not be leaving their vehicle initially.
  • An exception is when owners are calling to have their pet euthanized. Please go through the above process and then alert the triage staff. The triage staff will then alert the doctor and we will determine when the owners enter the building.

If the answer is YES to any of the above questions, explain the triage process as above and ask the following questions and/or describe the following:

  • Is it possible, in a multiple person household, for another person besides the one showing signs of illness to bring in the pet?
  • Is it possible for them to wear a mask and/or gloves when they arrive?
  • If owners ask why we are asking these questions, politely explain to them that the answers will determine our protocol to receive their pet for examination.

Once the pet and the owner are checked in, please print out a triage sheet and announce the triage to the staff. Please call the triage only when the triage sheet is printed and ready to help expedite the triage process.

We will need to make decisions on and likely alter the “immediate” and “urgent” triage process, since the patients will not be able to be taken to the back immediately without following our own precautions for the safety of our staff. A dog that just ate chocolate, or rat poison and is perfectly stable can still go through the above process. A collapsed patient or unstable patient still needs to go through the above process so that the triage personnel and the doctor can have as much information as possible before collecting the patient and before examination. The safety of our staff is of paramount importance.

Triage Process and PPE Recommendations

The triage personnel will begin the triage process in the parking lot after the triage is called. There should be only one triage person, unless special circumstances (see below).

PPE for triage personnel of owners who are healthy and not showing any sign of illness:

  • Wash your hands before going outside.
  • Double leashes or paper towels to provide some barrier to touching a carrier.
  • Stand 6’ away from the driver’s side of the car. The owners may want the person in the passenger seat of the back seat to provide information. If there are multiple people in the car, politely ask who will be providing triage information so that the triage personnel is not moving back and forth to all areas of the vehicle.
  • Avoid touching your face area at all times. If that is difficult (long hair, windy day), please remember one hand on the triage and one hand on the pen and provide equipment so that you do not need to touch your face area.
  • Once inside, wash your hands immediately.

PPE for triage personnel of owners or occupants of the vehicle who are showing any sign of illness:

  • Wash your hands before going outside.
  • Double leashes or paper towels to provide some barrier to touching a carrier.
  • Surgical mask
  • Avoid touching your face at all times.
  • Stand at least 6” from the vehicle at all times.
  • Once inside, wash your hands immediately.

Triage Process

  • Have double leash with you to transport dogs. If it is a small dog with no carrier, please place the double leash over the dog before carrying it in the hospital.
  • A cat or small dog in a carrier can be brought in the hospital by the handle of the crate.
  • Have the person in the car open the door or back of the trunk- avoid touching any part of the car.
  • Explain that you will take the pet in the hospital and the doctor will call with exam findings and recommendations.
  • The doctor will make decisions on sedation, pain medication, etc. after examination and will obtain that permission from the owner. Do not ask the owner for these permissions during triage.
  • Take the pet in the hospital and place an ID tag immediately before the doctor exams the pet.
  • Wash hands thoroughly when you are finished with all contact with the pet, leashes (wash as directed) and/or carrier.
  • Communicate the triage with the doctor.
  • The triage personnel should not go out to the vehicle a second time. Any further information can be obtained by phone.

Special Circumstances

Unstable patients, usually large dogs:

  • The above triage process needs to happen before an animal can enter the building.
  • The triage personnel may need assistance from a second or this person.
  • Avoid opening car doors or touching belongings in the car.
  • Disinfect all parts of the gurney immediately after use.