COVID-19 Updates from the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVMBS)

Other Important Texas A&M COVID-19 Pages

College COVID-19 Response: Questions

The CVMBS and VMTH have set up Google Documents to continually address questions and concerns from faculty, staff, and students related to the college’s COVID-19 response. Please visit the links below to add questions or comments.

Note: You will need to be logged in to google.tamu.edu with your Texas A&M NetID email address (xxxx@tamu.edu) to access these documents.

Remote Access

For resources to help you study and work remotely, visit the CVMBS’s Remote Access page.

Updates

6/30/20

Texas A&M Small Animal Hospital Scales Back Operations

With the increase in the number of cases of COVID-19 in the state, the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences’ (CVMBS) Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital (VMTH) is taking additional steps as we work to keep clinicians, support personnel, students, clients, and other hospital visitors as healthy and safe as possible.

In doing so, beginning the week of June 29, the Small Animal Hospital will begin scaling back operations by temporarily reducing some of our scheduled appointments for elective cases.

This is one of many steps the VMTH is taking to minimize the possibility of exposure to COVID-19 for anyone who visits the Small or Large Animal Hospitals.

In addition to continuing to encourage faculty, staff, and students to follow Centers for Disease Control & Prevention guidelines for physical distancing, mask-wearing, and personal hygiene, the VMTH has also continued increased cleaning protocols and is working to implement guidelines for monitoring and managing the potential for the spread of COVID-19 in the event hospital faculty and staff test positive for the virus.

Because the VMTH is an essential entity and we understand the importance of providing veterinary care to animals in need during this time of uncertainty, we hope that these safety measures will allow us to continue operations while being responsive to the needs of hospital personnel.

As always, we appreciate your patience and understanding as we navigate the changing circumstances presented by COVID-19.

For more information, please call the Small Animal Hospital at (979) 845-2351.


5/14/20

Texas A&M VMTH Updated FAQ (May 14)

Is the hospital still open?

Yes. The Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital (VMTH) is considered an essential service and is still open for urgent and emergent cases as well as a limited number of scheduled visits for primary and specialty care.

For questions, or to make an appointment, please call (979) 845-2351 for the Small Animal Hospital (SAH) and (979) 845-3541 for the Large Animal Hospital (LAH).

Do I still go to the same place?

Yes. Large Animal Hospital (LAH) clients should proceed to the LAH as usual and call our main number when in the parking lot (signs are posted with this number).

The parking lot in front of the Small Animal Hospital (SAH) is open to SAH clients. Upon entering, please park in a designated space, call the number on the sign, and a technician will be out to assist you and your pet.

We ask that local visitors please return home until your pet is ready for pick-up. Out-of-town visitors are encouraged to wait at a local establishment—many restaurants and coffee shops are open now for limited dine-in.

Staff and clinicians will be in contact by phone. We apologize for the inconvenience and hope to have more options soon.

What are the changes to the normal procedures?

To ensure the safety of clients, their animals, and the staff inside the hospital, several changes have been made in recent weeks. The most noticeable change is that clients will no longer leave their cars.

Is the VMTH doing any telemedicine, or are there ways I can communicate with a veterinarian from my home?

The Small Animal Hospital (SAH) is expanding its use of its telemedicine portal VirtualVet for rechecks and other services to minimize trips to the hospital.

For information on VirtualVet availability, clients can email virtualvets@cvm.tamu.edu or call 979-845-2351.

How is the VMTH handling personal protective equipment?

We are working with the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) to help our colleagues in human medicine to access personal protective equipment.

I want to thank my veterinarian at the VMTH. What can I do? 

The best way to thank VMTH clinicians, students, and staff is to fill out the client survey and/or leave positive comments on Facebook. You may also email a message to Vethospital@cvm.tamu.edu. Your kind words will be shared and are much appreciated.

There have been many inquiries about providing food for staff. This thoughtful and generous offer is very much appreciated, but at this time, while following social distancing protocols, the staff is finding it logistically challenging to divide and deliver food across the hospital in a COVID-compliant way.

Donations made in honor of our staff and faculty are a terrific way to let them know you appreciate their hard work. If you would prefer to donate to the VMTH to honor a clinician, student, or staff member who helped your animal, please email development@cvm.tamu.edu and someone in our Development Office will help you or visit https://vetmed.tamu.edu/giving/


4/21/20

See the CVMBS most recent update on the curbside admission and discharge procedures at the Texas A&M Small and Large Animal Hospitals:

Texas A&M VMTH Curbside Admission, Discharge Update

Map of VMTH

 


4/19/20

parking sign reads Please remain in your vehicle & call 979-845-3232 or 979-458-2590 Parking Space #1 To pick up medications call 979-845-9118 • Texas A&M University Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital logo

Texas A&M VMTH: COVID-19 Update (Apr. 19)

The Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Science’s (CVMBS) Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital (VMTH) is continuing our efforts to provide essential veterinary medical services in a way that is safe for our clients, faculty, and staff.

Small Animal Admissions

Curbside admission and discharge processes will continue at the Small Animal Hospital; however, during the admissions process, we will ask that clients enter the normal Small Animal Hospital Parking Lot (Lot 38), off of Raymond-Stotzer Parkway.

After turning into Lot 38, clients can park in any of the numbered spaces and should call the telephone number listed on the sign to get their pet checked in and begin the admissions process.

parking sign reads Food Animal Parking Space #F1 Please Remain In Your Vehicle & Call 979-845-3541 to Begin the Screening Process • Texas A&M University Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital logoLarge Animal Admissions

Curbside admission and discharge processes will also continue at the Large Animal Hospital. Clients will continue to use the traditional route to the Large Animal Hospital (from Raymond-Stotzer Parkway, turn onto Veterinary Way and then right at the stop sign, following the road around to and through the gates).

Once in Lot 45 (the normal Large Animal Hospital client parking), clients can park in numbered spaces designated for equine and food animal patients (please see the map below). Clients should then call the telephone number listed on the sign to begin the admissions process.

While these admissions processes are different than how we normally function, our commitment to providing excellence and compassion remains the same.

We urge everyone to stay safe and heed all public health recommendations for successfully navigating through the COVID-19 pandemic.

map illustrating updated procedure for Small Animal and Large Animal Admissions at the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Hospital


04/09/20

Texas A&M VMTH Town Hall Meeting (Apr. 9)

A VMTH Town Hall meeting was held on Thursday, April 9 via Zoom. Recording | Cloth Mask Instructions (PDF)


04/09/20

Texas A&M VMTH: COVID-19 Update (Apr. 9)

As the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences’ (CVMBS) Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital (VMTH) continues in its mission to care for urgent and emergent cases during the COVID-19 pandemic, we wanted to provide another update on new procedures and resources available for our valued clients, referring veterinarians (rDVMs), and friends.

Temporary Small Animal Hospital Entrance set up during COVID-19 VMTH operations

Emergency & Critical Care Service
As part of the VMTH’s efforts to focus on urgent and emergent cases, we have made changes that allow hospital clinicians and support staff to provide the best care possible for our patients. As part of this, the VMTH has closed the Emergency & Critical Care (ECC) Service during daytime hours Monday through Friday.

Patients are now being routed directly to a specialty service for evaluation and treatment instead of first being received by ECC Service, which traditionally evaluates and directs the patient to the appropriate specialty service.

This allows the hospital to streamline care for urgent and emergent cases, while also allowing our Critical Care area to focus on in-house patients that require longer-term care.

To help facilitate this process, we are asking clients and rDVMs to call ahead to one of the numbers below and speak with a staff member about the patient so that when the patient arrives, he/she can be routed to the appropriate specialty area.

Large Animal Hospital: 979.845.3541 | Small Animal Hospital: 979.845.2351

Female veterinarian in exam room with a kitten discussing a case via web conferencing with a female VMTH clinician

Telemedicine Expansion
Because COVID-19 has necessitated the postponement or cancellation of many elective appointments, our VirtualVet program has now expanded to include many services within the Large Animal Hospital (LAH).

Telemedicine visits can be used for rDVM case consultations, to review radiographs/other imaging modalities, and to develop diagnostic or treatment plans through our secure and user-friendly online platform.

Details on the VirtualVet program, including how to connect, instructions for account creation, clinic codes, and other support information, is available online. rDVMs may also contact one of the VirtualVet team members at 979.845.3541 (ask for Ryan Kirk, Emily Adamson, or Dr. Lori Teller), by email at VirtualVets@cvm.tamu.edu, or by visiting https://vetmed.tamu.edu/virtualvet/.

The VirtualVet program is also continuing to offer online visits to some of our clients with both large and small animals for a nominal fee.

Reducing COVID-19 Transmission
The CVMBS and VMTH are continuing to monitor research and news regarding the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the COVID-19 outbreak as it relates to companion animals.

While there have been no studies to date demonstrating that domestic animals and pets can transmit COVID-19 to their owners, VMTH veterinarians continue to encourage basic precautions such as frequent and thorough hand-washing and limiting “face-to-face contact” interactions with your pet.

Because a pet’s body, like any other frequently touched surface, may carry the virus if touched by infected individuals, the CVMBS has created the above video resource that discusses how to appropriately decontaminate a pet that may have been exposed to the virus.

Thank You
The VMTH is dedicated to providing the best possible care to all of our patients during this unprecedented time.

As always, we thank you for the kindness and patience we have witnessed as we have worked to adapt to the changing circumstances and ask that you continue to monitor our website—vethospital.tamu.edu—for updates on the hospital’s COVID-19 response and for additional updates on hospital services.


04/08/20

Statement from CVMBS on Animals and COVID-19

COVID-19 and Animals

SARS CoV-2, the cause of COVID-19, is a novel, or new, virus, and there is much yet to be discovered.

There have been recent news reports of a tiger that contracted the disease from a handler who was an asymptomatic carrier and other reports where experimentally exposed animals have developed clinical signs consistent with coronavirus infection that was then passed on to other animals. These studies were performed on very small numbers, have not gone through the normal review process, and have focused on human-to-animal and animal-to-animal transmission.

However, there have been no studies to date demonstrating that domestic animals and pets can transmit COVID-19 to their owners.

The Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVMBS) and its Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital (VMTH) are continuing to monitor research and news regarding the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the COVID-19 outbreak as it relates to companion animals.

Based on the information that is currently available, the CVMBS and VMTH recommend pet owners continue to follow United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), and American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMT) guidelines for proper hygiene and social distancing.

Specifically, the CVMBS and VMTH recommend:

  • Pet owners should continue taking basic precautions such as frequent and thorough hand-washing and limit “face-to-face contact” interactions with your pet.
  • Owners who are not sick do not need to isolate from pets, nor is there any recommendation to discontinue routine activities such as walking or playing with your pets if you are well.
  • If you have tested positive or are presumptively positive for COVID-19, separate yourself not only from other people but also from your animals. This may include having someone who is healthy feed your pets and not allowing your pets to sleep with you.
  • If an animal has to be removed from a household with someone who is ill, the pet should be bathed or their coat should be wiped to prevent transmission of the virus from the animal’s fur.

The COVID-19-Positive Household

If you or a family member have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and your pet becomes ill and shows signs of upper respiratory disease, we encourage you to contact your veterinarian. They may elect to test your pet for COVID-19. Testing requires approval from public health and animal health authorities and is only recommended for those animals exhibiting respiratory signs and that come from a household with someone who has been diagnosed presumptive or positive for COVID-19.

We want to repeat that there have been no studies to date demonstrating that domestic animals and pets can transmit COVID-19 to their owners. CVMBS veterinarians will continue to monitor news and scientific journals regarding COVID-19 transmission for animals and humans and with time and as new information becomes available, the CVMBS will continue to update its recommendations on COVID-19.

For more information about COVID-19 and pets, please see the USDA question-and-answer page at https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/newsroom/news/sa_by_date/sa-2020/ny-zoo-covid-19.

You may also visit the Texas Animal Health Commission’s (TAHC) webpage on companion animal coronavirus testing at https://www.tahc.texas.gov/covid19/TAHCVeterinaryGuidance_COVID_CompanionAnimalTesting.pdf.


03/26/20

See the CVMBS latest press release on frequently asked questions about the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital’s response to COVID-19:
Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital curbside admission procedure   Temporary Small Animal Hospital Entrance Sign
CVMBS professor and Veterinary Emergency Team member Dr. Deb Zoran also discussed the benefits of bathing pets to reduce COVID-19 transmission in this week’s Pet Talk:

03/26/20

VMTH COVID-19 Operations Update for Clients and Referring DVMs

As the federal, state, and local procedures continue to evolve in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and in our continued efforts to provide the highest level of care to our patients, the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences’ (CVMBS) Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital (VMTH) wants to update clients and referring veterinarians (rDVMs) on hospital procedures:
  • While many shelter-in-place orders have gone into effect, including in Brazos County, the VMTH is considered an essential service and remains open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • Many hospital services have consolidated as the VMTH focuses on emergent and urgent cases; however, the VMTH has increased the number of services available via the hospital’s VirtualVet telehealth program.
    • rDVMs can consult with VMTH specialists and already-established clients can visit with VMTH doctors for rechecks by contacting virtualvets@cvm.tamu.edu or calling 979-845-2351. More information on VirtualVet, including how to register and log in, is available at https://vetmed.tamu.edu/virtualvet.
  • The VMTH Pharmacy is still open and refilling prescriptions, which can be mailed out or picked up through the hospital’s curbside service.
    • Prescriptions can be refilled by calling (979) 845-9118 (Small Animal Hospital) or (979) 845-9115 (Large Animal Hospital), as well as through the VMTH Client Portal at https://vet.tamu.edu/client.
  • The VMTH Primary Care Service is still providing essential and necessary preventative care for existing clients—including rabies vaccines, boosters in young animals, etc.—on a limited basis. If your pet is due for these vaccinations, please call the Small Animal Hospital at 979.845.2351.
  • You may also learn more at our COVID-19 FAQ page.
Do you have more questions? Join VMTH leadership tomorrow (Friday, March 27) for a Facebook Live question-and-answer session, at 1:30 p.m. on the CVMBS Facebook page (@tamuvetmed) and the VMTH Facebook page (@tamuvmth). Among the topics for discussion are:
  • VMTH services that are currently available
  • Drive-thru admissions and discharge
  • Safety for people, pets, and staff
  • Pharmacy options
  • Telemedicine availability and accessing appointments
  • What we know about COVID-19 transmission
Please continue to monitor the VMTH website—at vethospital.tamu.edu—for updates on the hospital’s COVID-19 response and for additional updates on rescheduling appointments.
As always, we thank you for your patience and kindness during this challenging time.

03/24/20

March 24 VMTH Town Hall Notes

The following are notes from the Q&A session during the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital’s (VMTH) ZOOM Town Hall on Tuesday, March 24, 2020, at 11:00 a.m. CDT.

General Updates

  • Employee sickness: We contact HR and Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) whenever an employee illness is reported to us. We will contact the ill individual, seek guidance from HR and EHS, and then contact anyone we have been notified of that has been potentially directly exposed. EHS provides guidance regarding return to work.
  • Small Animal updates:
    • Close of general surgery service
    • With regard to staff, we have created teams for sections and are trying to create sub-units to allow for weekly trade-off of clinic work and alternate work location to allow people to get our of the clinics and allow for social distancing.
  • Large Animal updates: Job duties are covered throughout the day, and currently holding steady for evening and after-hours. After the county’s announcement yesterday, there are more student workers who are choosing to go home, and we are seeing how that plays out and will making adjustments from there. If employees can and would like to work from home, we are allowing that.

Q&A

Q: Where are we at with ER staffing?

A: We still need staffing help overnight, and a little bit of help during the day from a clinician standpoint, even just to field phone calls. We are okay, but needing additional support.

Q: We were wondering if you have more information on the school side of all of this. We are concerned about having to watch lectures before zoom meetings, then attending those meetings as well. It seems to be making the workload increase on our side as far as “lecture time” goes.

A: Outside the scope of this particular town hall; I agree that they’re really important, and there’s a lot going on with online learning implementation along with hospital changes. If the individuals asking questions are DVM students, send Dr. Cornell an email directly or through your class liaison. If you are an undergraduate student, please send questions or concerns to Dr. Elizabeth Crouch. For graduate students, please route questions to Dr. Burghardt, Dr. Kessler, or Dr. Ashley Seabury.

Q: Is there the potential to drop down to an on-call basis only for certain departments?

A: We have a couple of units that have completely closed in an effort to social distance, and will come in specifically for emergency cases. This is similar to what is happening at several other institutions at present.

Q: Is it required for someone to be present in person in all departments or is okay for an office to be closed and staff in that department all work from home?

A: This is a decision by unit or department that can be answered by speaking with your supervisor

Q: How is communication being improved regarding potential exposures?

A: We will continue to talk to individuals who are ill to determine possible exposure, but if you are concerned that you have had exposure, please reach out to your supervisor to let them know so that we can determine next steps.

Q: If we drop to on-call only and are unable to work from home, can we expect any compensation without having to use vacation/comp time? Some newer employees do not have any paid time off they can use.

A: We’re trying to be as responsive to work-from-home requests as possible, and we’re trying to be objective in how we grant those requests. We’re working with HR to maintain objectivity, and one thing that is really important is to look at how staff are distributed in the hospital. If you have specific concerns, please talk to your supervisor and Sandra Church.


03/22/20

Texas A&M CVMBS COVID-19 Update: March 22

Dear Colleagues:

With the announcement of the first confirmed case of COVID-19 within the CVMBS, we know that there are many questions and concerns, so we wanted to give you an overarching update regarding all of the precautions that have been and/or are being taken by many within the college to ensure faculty, staff, student workers, and students are safe. At the risk of excessive communication, the CVMBS will distill important information from the college into weekly emails for all college faculty, staff, and students. This will be in addition to the following consistent communication outlets.

Communication

  • The CVMBS will host a second Zoom town hall on Tuesday, March 24, at 11 a.m. The link for that town hall is https://tamu.zoom.us/j/361110942 (Meeting ID: 361 110 942). While a number of people were unable to access the first Zoom town hall, we have worked with IT to examine the bandwidth issue and 300 people should be able to join the meeting on Tuesday. In addition, we are working to ensure the meeting can be recorded and will be posted online after the meeting.
  • The CVMBS website has a page dedicated to the college’s COVID-19 response, including a transcription of the first Zoom town hall.
  • Daily emails are being sent by small animal clinical sciences department head Dr. Jon Levine regarding the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital (VMTH) curbside intake and admissions processes and hospital-related items.
  • College leaders continue to huddle daily as the situation evolves and are committing to hold office hours for one-on-one discussions, particularly related to VMTH operations.
  • VMTH questions and comments can be left at any time via this Google Doc
  • CVMBS questions and comments can be left at any time via this Google Doc.

COVID-19 Case Follow-Up

  • Individuals with whom the staff member who tested positive for COVID-19 interacted have been identified. Each person has been notified and asked to self-monitor or self-isolate based upon the type of interaction experienced.
  • An individual working within the Small Animal Hospital was determined to have had contact with someone that had clinical signs consistent with COVID-19 (not confirmed). This individual is self-quarantining.
  • CVMBS Facilities has worked with SSC to deep clean areas associated with the COVID-19-positive staff member, as well as within the VMTH ER space (which has been relocated to a larger area to increase social distancing).
  • Custodial staff are continuing to wipe down surfaces multiple times each day.

Safety Measures & Employee Wellbeing

  • CVMBS employees are reminded to engage in good hygiene and if you have illness or other personal concerns that might prevent you from working, please talk with your supervisor.
  • While the CVMBS cannot require health screenings, we do urge anyone who is feeling sick to seek the advice of a healthcare professional. Individuals who are ill or have recently been sick should talk with their supervisor about opportunities to work from home, for at least 14 days before returning on-site. Individuals may opt to discuss taking leave. 
  • MD Live is offering no call-in fee for any medical issue and may also be providing counseling support.
    • To use MDLive, have your BCBSTX member ID card ready.
    • Visit https://mdlive.com/bcbstx and activate your account, download the MDLive app on your phone, or call customer service at 1-888-680-8646.
    • If you have questions call 1-888-680-8646 to speak with an MD LIVE Inc. Telehealth Services representative.

Working from Home

  • The CVMBS, at the encouragement of Texas A&M, is trying to offer alternate work options whenever we can. Employees should work with your supervisor and contact the college’s HR liaisons about developing an “Alternate Work Location” plan.
  • College faculty, staff, and students—especially those who are at high-risk of COVID-19 transmission—are encouraged to discuss with their supervisor their ability to work remotely.

Hospital

  • The VMTH is continuously evaluating and implementing new strategies to minimize contact and maximize social distancing for VMTH clinicians and support staff, including curbside admissions and discharging, consolidating services, releasing fourth-year veterinary students from clinical rotations, utilizing sample and animal runners, placing restrictions on room entry as appropriate, and establishing shifts for hospital support staff, interns, and residents.
  • The VMTH is still operating on a more limited basis 24 hours a day.
  • The VMTH is continuously and systematically examining how cases flow through both hospitals to optimize social distancing and maintain outstanding care.   
  • Several services have begun discussing the VMTH’s VirtualVet program for patient rechecks.
  • Teams are working to define thresholds for case admission, both within services and more broadly.
  • VMTH staff are continuing to monitor personal protection equipment (PPE) and are exploring best practices for conservation of these items. The VMTH is working closely with the human health sector regarding collaboratively sharing PPE resources. At this time, all requests are being routed through the Health Science Center.

Parking

  • To facilitate VMTH curbside admissions and discharges, those with parking assignments in Lot 45 are asked to park in Lot 24 and those with parking assignments in Lots 12, 38, and 75 are asked to park in Lot 36 for the time being.

Additional Resources

  • Faculty, staff, and students should follow the directives listed on the Office of the Provost website.
  • For the Undergraduate program – Follow campus guidelines.
  • For the Graduate program – Follow campus guidelines and email updates from Dr. Burghardt and the Office for Research & Graduate Studies.
  • For the DVM program – Follow campus guidelines and email updates from Dr. Cornell and the Professional Programs Office.
  • Research laboratories and facilities are expected to continue operating. Please see information from the VPR’s Office.

We have been touched by the way everyone has come together, worked hard, and really embraced the Aggie Spirit during this unprecedented time, and we truly thank each of you for your contributions, thoughts, and feedback.

I would like to close by thanking all of the faculty and staff who have worked so tirelessly over the past week to keep everyone safe. This has been apparent across the entire college, with no place more visible than the VMTH. Providing around-the-clock care for urgent and emergent cases is unbelievably difficult in this scenario, and the creativity, compassion, and dedication of the teams in the Large and Small Animal Hospitals, as well as in the support laboratories, have been really incredible to witness. Thank you to each and every one of you!!

I know that this same dedication is being displayed throughout the college and into the local community. We would love to celebrate some of these CVMBS victories and kind acts by highlighting “shout outs” both in this newsletter and on the CVMBS’s Facebook page. Please send those “shout outs” to Jennifer Gauntt at jgauntt@cvm.tamu.edu.

Again, thank you for being who you are!

Respectfully,
Kenita

Kenita Rogers, DVM, MS, DACVIM | Executive Associate Dean
Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences


03/20/20

March 20 VMTH Town Hall Notes

The following are notes from the Q&A session during the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital’s (VMTH) ZOOM Town Hall on Friday, March 20, 2020, at 9:00 a.m. CDT.

Q: Should we have veterinary technology students coming into the building from Houston, and are we screening them?

A: We have currently taken the stance to not screen employees, but are continuously encouraging people to follow healthcare advice and stay home if they have any symptoms.

Q: How far out can we cancel non-urgent appointments?

A: Elective non-essential cases: Can wait a week or two, but can’t be canceled long-term. We’re currently looking at how to open up the schedule to things that can’t wait long-term.

Q: Can you please elaborate on how we are addressing the mental health of employees on the hospital floor?

A: We’re thinking about it and communicating with other veterinary hospitals on their plans, and you should see something coming out in the next few days with more information about resources to promote mental health in this situation.

Dr. Wes Bissett volunteered to serve as the conduit for assistance that the VET team can provide.

MD Live is offering no fee for call-in, for any medical issue and likely for counseling support. Sandra Church will send out more information. (See additional 03/20/20 update beneath this one.)

Q: I work in VTPB administration, but is there anywhere that I can volunteer in Small or Large Animal?

A: The best place to direct that request too for right now would be Sheila Carter and Dr. Wes Bissett, and they can help determine how your expertise can be best utilized.

Q: What is the plan to scale down the way we are working now? This is a problem likely to be with us for 6 months or so…what’s going to happen with the new student year in May?

A: Local and wider spread of the virus, animal health needs, staffing, PPE availability; daily conversations are taking place at the moment. We are doing our best to address the unknown contexts.

We’re in the process of making plans for different contingencies. At the moment, it’s too early to say what the situation is going to look like come May. We will roll out information about the contingency plans as they become available.

Q: Will there be any support for parents with children if schools in the area close until August?

We’re having these conversations currently, and we’re trying to reassign people to accommodate as best we can, and avoid people needing to take leave to care for their children.

Q: I’m currently seeing alerts that they are calling for veterinary medicine hospitals to volunteer their ventilators for human use. As cases increase that may change where they may ask to report them. Is there any concern in the near future that human hospitals will use our resources, or perhaps use our facilities?

A: This is an evolving situation, and we’re trying to be cognizant about the use of PPE and shortages in the human health sector. We’ve been in contact with emergency medicine leaders and student health to determine where needs may be.

Dr. Wes Bissett: Could it happen? Yes, it’s happened before and it was very successful. But every effort is being made to ensure that leaders in these areas are aware, and we are providing them with the information to help make the best decision possible.

Q: Do we have VMIS running in our homes?

A: VMIS is available through the remote desktop system. There’s a webpage with the link to set everything up to be able to access resources. (See the REMOTE ACCESS page at the CVMBS website.)

Q: With our increase in cleaning is there any concern with our cleaning products, such as Rescue, being available?

A: Right now, we have enough and aren’t short on anything; most of our allotment will reset in April, so hopefully they will be able to honor the promised order for April. We believe we should be okay.

Our purchasing group and pharmacy are looking for additional cleaning supplies locally each day to get items if they are needed.

SSC Custodial also has a high level of confidence that they have enough product in stock to maintain paper towels, hand sanitizer, etc.

Q: If there’s a shelter-in-place order from the governor like in California, do we know what that will mean for the hospital?

A: It depends on if veterinary services are deemed essential. If they are deemed essential, we will remain open, and people will still be able to travel here. Right now, the understanding is that veterinary medicine would be deemed an essential business. In the stimulus package being considered by the U.S. Senate, there’s a stipulation that veterinary medicine would be considered essential as well. If that’s passed, we would remain open.

Q: If Texas A&M decides to ask students to leave the dorms, what will happen to our student worker positions? How long will we be able to maintain our student workers?

A: We will employ student workers as much as possible, with the understanding that if they live on campus and dorms close, they would not be able to stay and work. However, we are working on opening student worker positions for some of our 4VM students who would like to stay and work. We will maintain student workers unless Texas A&M tells us we’re unable to.

Q: Has there been any discussion about relaxing the requirement for in-person examination for the establishment of a telehealth VCPR?

A: Dr. Lori Teller: State board issued a statement earlier this week that you should still establish a VCPR with a hands-on physical exam. After that point, use your best judgment.

Q: What happens if we get a positive COVID-19 test in one of the hospitals or a positive test with a family member that lives with an employee? Is there a mechanism in place yet?

A: The health department would come in and do contact tracing, and employees that were deemed to have close contact with that person would be moved into self-isolation. More guidance on workflow pattern logistics should be coming within the next 24 hours.

We do recognize that this is stressful for everyone involved, but the purpose of processes that we’re implementing is that when someone tests positive, we can limit who they have been in close contact with rather than having to close down the whole hospital.

Dr. Wes Bissett: Remember that you are responsible for your health and the health of those you work with, so please look at it that way, and keep that in mind in your daily activities outside of work as well. Start thinking as a service unit about social distance, and think about where you go as a unit outside of work. Take simple steps to limit your exposure, and try to maintain consistency across the service.

Q: Can you further elaborate on plans for house officers? How is the hospital planning to support house officers if we are rearranged to other services and how will this affect our residency/internship requirements?

There is a working group on the Small Animal side looking at case capacity, residency program requirements, and service needs. We hope to share more information about that by Monday at the latest.

Q: Do we know where it’s possible to get tested for COVID-19 in town (since some of us may be self-isolating at this point for allergies)?

There is a local concierge doctor, and the way the process works us that you have a phone screening to determine symptoms and if they deem that testing is needed, they will send someone to your house to have you tested, if you are denied testing by a hospital. MD Live may also have options for this.

Q: I know this question is floating around among staff members. If we are working half days, are we allowed to use sick time to cover the other part of the day? If schools are closed can parents utilize sick time?

A: We’re trying to give alternate work options whenever we can, and main campus is wanting to be flexible and work with everyone as much as they can. Work with your supervisor and contact Sandra Church in HR about developing and “Alternate Work Location” plan.

Q: Do we feel that having to spread our technicians and student workers to other services to accommodate shortages is increasing all of our risks if someone does test positive, as they asked about above? What kind of steps to we have in place to help this? This would be more for asymptomatic people rather than people who feel sick and come to work anyways.

A: We’re doing our best to think about that and working to modify workflow in areas that are high traffic. We’re working to develop a more strategic plan about the workflow process when people are moving across sections. One conversation is that staff will wear PPE if they cross service areas to lend support.

Q: Could we consider letting fourth-year veterinary students volunteer instead of taking veterinary technology students we don’t know?

We prefer to hire them as student workers, and we’re looking to determine what the staffing needs are, rather than having more people come in than we need, or in areas where they’re not needed.

Dr. Karen Cornell: For various reasons, we cannot have them volunteer. Happy to share the logistics but essentially the answer is no.

Q: If this stretches into the summer, are there different plans for the intake of owners/pets? As it starts to heat up, it may become difficult for staff to continue to be based outdoors for long periods of time.

A: We’ll be using some of the VET inventory (like air-conditioned tents) as it heats up to make that process work better and to protect staff and animals

Q: Do we need to plan for incoming interns and residents?

A: There are a lot of unknowns between now and July. Small Animal has been having preliminary conversations about this and trying to determine how we will move forward as we learn more about travel, exam availability, etc.

Dr. Karen Cornell:
State board exam for graduating students: We will shuttle students in on the dates that they would normally take the state board, and we will bring students in groups of nine to complete their exams in a proctored setting while maintaining social distance.

Spring NAVLE date: Currently in flux right now and many of their testing centers are closing. The NAVLE window is currently pushed back and NAVLE has been reaching out to students to reschedule for free for the fall. The vast majority of our students have passed the NAVLE, but not all have sat the exam yet.

Q: Can we pair up techs so that physical duties that require close contact is with the same person to limit cross-contamination?

A: We will continue to look at these kinds of solutions and you’ll see more guidance and potentially more changes coming. We would like to slow the pace of change, but we’re trying to focus on keeping everyone safe.

Comment from Heather Moberly: The Medical Sciences Library is virtual. However, many veterinary resources are only in print. We can transfer our print to multimedia materials temporarily to the VMTH. We can scan print to PDF. We can pursue increasing online access to materials. We are available to assist virtually with lit search, etc. Just ask!


03/20/20

MD LIVE Inc. Telehealth Services at No Cost to A&M Care Members

Get access to care 24 hours a day, seven days a week by online video, mobile app or phone.

Texas A&M System Chancellor John Sharp has temporarily reduced the copay for MD LIVE Inc Telehealth services to $0 beginning 3/19/2020, in an effort to facilitate access to medical care for all A&M Care members. MDLive Virtual Visits is a feature through the BCBS A&M Care Health Plans that lets you visit independently contracted MDLIVE board-certified doctors when you may need care or have medical questions. Plus, they may even write and send prescriptions to a nearby pharmacy (when appropriate).

You may want to have a virtual visit:

  • Instead of going to the ER or urgent care for non-emergency visits
  • If your doctor is booked
  • While at home, work or on-the-go

This alternative provides safe and convenient care for 50+ non-emergency medical & behavioral health conditions 24/7/365, including the common cold and flu, ear problems, headaches, nausea and more.

To use MDLive, have your BCBSTX member ID card ready, and:

  • go to http://mdlive.com/bcbstx and activate your account,
  • download the MDLive app on your phone, or
  • call customer service at 1-888-680-8646.

If you have questions call 1-888-680-8646 to speak with an MD LIVE Inc. Telehealth Services representative.


03/20/20

CVMBS family,

We want to make the college aware that a staff member from the college tested positive for COVID-19 this morning.

The staff member works in the Veterinary Medical Research Building (VMR) and was only on campus for a limited time since before spring break. The few College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVMBS) personnel with whom the person interacted are being contacted. This individual and those in contact will go into self-isolation for two weeks.

The Texas A&M Office of Risk, Ethics, & Compliance; the Office of the Provost; and the Office of the President have been notified, as has the Brazos County Health Department.

The CVMBS wants to remind everyone to continue to follow the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention’s (CDC) and Texas A&M University’s guidelines for social distancing, hand washing, and self-isolation, including working remotely, with your supervisor’s permission and as your job allows.

If you have questions or concerns, please feel free to chat with me via email or at 979-862-4216.

Be safe,
Jennifer G. Gauntt | Director, CVMBS Communications
College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences | Texas A&M University
979.862.4216 |  jgauntt@cvm.tamu.edu


03/20/20

See the CVMBS latest press release about the VMTH’s COVID-19 response.
Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital Implements Changes to Protect Staff, Clients


03/18/20

Parking Advisory: Large Animal Hospital and Small Animal Hospital Parking

Lots Affected: 12, 38, 45, and 75. Alternate Lots: 24 and 36

Dear CVMBS faculty, staff, students, and hospital staff,

As the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVMBS) works to facilitate the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital’s (VMTH) drive-through hospital admissions and discharging processes, we wanted to remind you that Parking Lots 12, 38, 45, and 75 will be closed until further notice.

Those normally parking in Lots 12, 38, and 75 are asked to please park in Lot 36, and those normally parking in Lot 45 are asked to please park in Lot 24 during this time.

A map is included below for your convenience.

These changes will assist VMTH and Veterinary Emergency Team (VET) members in the VMTH’s efforts to continue seeing emergent and urgent veterinary cases in a timely and efficient manner while also protecting their faculty, staff, and students working in the hospital.

Faculty and staff attempting to access the restricted lots or to cut through those areas—either on their way to Lot 36 or to reach Agronomy Road—can cause delays in the admissions of emergency cases, as was the case this morning.

We are currently routing all Small Animal Hospital client traffic to the north side of the Large Animal Hospital via Veterinary Way.

In addition, the VMTH and CVMBS have set up Google Documents so that we can continually address questions and concerns from faculty, staff, and students related to the college’s COVID-19 response.

Please visit the links below to add questions or comments:

For CVMBS faculty, staff, and students    |     For VMTH faculty and staff

Note: You will need to be logged in to google.tamu.edu with your Texas A&M NetID email address (xxxx@tamu.edu) to access these documents.

We appreciate your understanding and patience during this unprecedented situation.

Map illustrating alternate parking in Lots 24 and 36 for those who usually park in Lots 12, 38, 45, and 75


03/15/20

Dear Colleagues:

I’m sure many of you have questions regarding Texas A&M’s COVID-19 response, so we would like to offer an update on the meetings and activities that have been occurring within the CVMBS throughout the past week to address the circumstances associated with the pandemic.

Below are a series of statements that express what we know at this time.

1. Educational mission: 

  • Faculty, staff, and students should follow the directives listed on the Office of the Provost website.
  • Please check for changing information on a daily basis.
  • For the Undergraduate program – Follow campus guidelines.
  • For the Graduate program – Follow campus guidelines and email updates from Dr. Burghardt and the Office for Research & Graduate Studies.
  • For the DVM program – Follow campus guidelines and email updates from Dr. Cornell and the Professional Programs Office.

2. Research:

  • Research laboratories and facilities are expected to continue operating. Please see information from the VPR’s Office.

3. Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital (VMTH):

  • College leadership and faculty/staff with VMTH responsibilities have been meeting throughout the weekend to address specific needs for patient care.
  • The hospitals will be receiving only urgent and emergent cases in order to decrease viral exposure and utilize existing resources most effectively for patients with the greatest need.
  • Extensive measures are being taken to facilitate the safety of our students, staff, faculty, clients, and patients within the VMTH.
  • Many of these measures are related to staffing, disinfection, prescreening of clients, traffic flow, etc.
  • Doors to most buildings in the Veterinary Medical Complex will be locked.
  • All clients (Large and Small Animal) will be directed to the Large Animal parking lot for triage including admission, discharge, etc.

4. Parking:

  • FOR FACULTY AND STAFF WHO PARK IN LOTS 12, 38, AND 75: ALL VEHICLES MUST PARK IN LOT 36 for the foreseeable future. (SEE MAP BELOW)
  • This is related to safety and traffic flow for the Small Animal Hospital and ensuring security at that location.

5. Faculty and Staff Workplace Concerns:

  • All questions regarding whether to come into work, staffing schedules, etc., should be directed to each individual’s supervisor.

6. Communication:

  • Please watch your e-mail and the CVMBS website for updates. Due to the extremely fluid nature of the information that we are receiving, it is likely that there will be daily updates for the next few days or even weeks.

We know that everyone in the CVMBS is directly impacted by these events, so we ask that you please continue to monitor the web, your email, and social media for updates as they are released.

A special thanks to all of the faculty and staff leaders who have worked tirelessly over the past week to try to plan for this difficult set of circumstances, always keeping student, staff, and faculty safety and wellbeing at the forefront. These have been really difficult discussions and plans may need to change over time.

For now, please know that lots of folks have been working hard to make good decisions that can allow us to do the right thing as a college, as a hospital, and as individuals.

Please be wise and safe today!!

Respectfully,
Kenita

Dr. Kenita RogersExecutive Associate Dean
Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences

Map for COVID-19 Parking. FOR CVM FACULTY AND STAFF WHO PARK IN LOTS 12, 38, AND 75: ALL VEHICLES MUST PARK IN LOT 36 for the foreseeable future.