News Updates- Governor’s Orders

April 5- Volunteer Vaccinator Sign-Up

Last week, the Oregon Health Authority, signed an authorization under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP Act) which allows additional individuals, including veterinarians, to administer COVID-19 vaccines to assist the State in its vaccination efforts against COVID-19. This followed an earlier declaration by the Secretary of Health and Human Services for veterinarians—and veterinary students—to be among those eligible as COVID vaccinators.

Immunity from Liability

The PREP Act provides broad immunity from suit and liability under federal and state law to those engaged in activities aimed at combating the COVID-19 pandemic, and includes administering the vaccines approved by the FDA.

Dr. Emilio DeBess, Oregon Healthy Authority, Public Health Veterinarian, has provided detailed instructions on how to sign-up to become a vaccinator in Multnomah County. Health officers of Washington and Clackamas counties are now also asking people to sign-up via the State Emergency Registry of Volunteers in Oregon (SERV-OR) system. We recognize others have been able to volunteer directly in various counties but this is the most centralized/organized sign-up option at this time.

How to Register- SERV-OR

November 18- Statewide 'Freeze' and OHA Guidance for Veterinary Facilities
While the newest stay at home Governor’s orders that began November 18th and will last for the next 2-4+ weeks, do not specifically restrict veterinary practice operations, it is important to review and assess rules, provisions, and guidance for employees as we move into this ‘freeze’ period.

Our community, consistent with the overall increase in cases across the region, is seeing an increased number of employees confirmed and presumed positive with COVID. It is important we collectively work to keep our our colleagues, clients, and loved ones safe and healthy.

In addition to the new OSHA Rule provisions, Dr. DeBess and OHA have provided supporting guidance as more veterinary practices are being directly impacted by ill or positive employees. Much of it is similar to previous guidance and is in alignment with the OSHA rule finalized last week, but the more it can be shared to support your team through a stressful time, the better.

Veterinary clinics are a part of the health care system.

To ensure the health & safety of veterinary clinic staff and pet owners, the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) recommends taking the following precautions.

1. Staff should take their temperature at home prior to work.

2. Upon arrival, ask staff about any symptoms such as:

·     cough

·     sore throat

·     fever

·     headache

·     loss of smell or taste

·     diarrhea

·     vomiting

If any of the symptoms are present, staff should not be allowed to work.

Any staff member exposed to a confirmed case outside of the veterinary facility setting (households, friends, etc.) should not work and be quarantined for 14 days.

Quarantine is mandatory regardless of a negative test. 

COVID Confirmed and Presumptive Positive Team Members

When veterinary staff have tested positive for SARS-CoV-19 in a veterinary setting, it is necessary to help the local health authority with contact tracing to identify those exposed to COVID-19.

·     Exposed individuals should be advised to get tested as per testing guidelines (page 3, section 3).

·     Exposed individuals may be quarantined for 14 days.

·     Only with the approval of the local Health Officer, exposed individuals may only work with other exposed individuals as a cohort for 14 days. No additional staff can be added to the cohort once the 14-day period begins.

·     Exposed individuals may not attend gatherings, outings or have extended contact with anyone else outside of their home during the 14 days.

·     When at home, exposed individuals should wear a face covering and follow OHA quarantine guidance for 14 days to limit exposure to other household members.

·     If one of the exposed individuals within the cohort were to test positive within the 14-day quarantine, then all exposed cohort members should be sent home and again quarantined for 14 days from their last exposure.

COVID-19 infection notification process

Employers must establish a mechanism for notifying both exposed and affected employees within 24 hours of the employer’s knowledge of a potential COVID-19 workplace exposure (e.g. an individual with COVID-19 in the workplace.)

Medical removal (quarantine and return to work)

Whenever OHA, the local public health agency or medical provider recommends an employee be restricted from work due to quarantine or isolation for COVID-19, such as through identification during contact tracing activities, the affected worker(s) must be directed to remain at home and away from other non-quarantined individuals. Quarantined individuals must be allowed to work from home if suitable work is available. The affected individual is entitled to return to their previous job duties if they are still available. Return-to-work and testing decisions must be made in concordance with public health guidance and the employee’s medical provider.

Full OHA Guidance (PDF)

November 10- COVID-19 Workplace Risks: Oregon OSHA Rule Finalized

In response to the continued increase of COVID-19 cases and the ongoing efforts to navigate the pandemic, Oregon Occupational Safety And Health Authority (OSHA) has adopted a temporary enforceable workplace rule.

 

The new rule is similar in many parts to the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) guidance that has been shared out over the past 7 months, including physical distancing and face coverings. Additional layers are now included relating to infection control, notice to employees, requirements to assess COVID-19 exposure risk, and workplace monitoring that are new to Oregon employers, including those in veterinary medicine, and will require action and planning on your part.

The provisions take effect November 16, 2020 and will remain in place until May 4, 2021, unless revised or repealed by that date.

Please make sure to read through the requirements thoroughly and note due dates for compliance in several sections in bold.

The physical structure and set-up of veterinary facilities are as unique and diverse as the people in them! Please keep this in mind when interpreting the rule provisions for your practice, applying them, and working towards compliance.

Full Rule and Guidance

May 1st- Elective and non-emergent procedures to resume

On March 19, 2020, Governor Brown issued Executive Order No. 20-10 to cancel all elective and non-urgent health care procedures that require personal protective equipment (PPE) effective March 23, 2020.

On April 27, 2020, Governor Brown issued Executive Order No. 20-22, which allows veterinary facilities to resume elective and non-emergent procedures that require PPE, starting May 1, 2020, if the criteria in this Oregon Health Authority (OHA) guidance can be met.

Authority: Executive Order No. 20-22, ORS 433.443, ORS 431A.010. Applicability: This guidance is applicable to veterinary facilities.

Full Guidance

April 1st- From the Boardroom

As I sit to write this note to my fellow PVMA Members, I think about how much our world has changed and in such a short course of time.

Strangely enough I was planning on writing to you today about an earthquake preparedness event we were organizing for May, featuring TED speaker Steve Eberlein. And then a different kind of disaster hit that has back-burnered earthquake preparedness for the time being.
Needless to say “Pandemic Preparedness” was not on our radar, but now that we are in the middle of this mess, it is wonderful to see how truly resilient the veterinary community is.

We are a small but powerful group. We are determined to keep our doors open to provide the care our patients need to stay free from pain and suffering, all the while adapting to limitations placed on us to fully support our human medicine counterparts. We are adept in balancing the needs of our patients, our staff, and our clients.

These next few weeks to months will be challenging for everyone. Things will continue to change and I know we will quickly adapt.
Our goals are to provide you with the most up-to-date information about this ever-evolving crisis, and to offer guidance on how “best” to respond. The PVMA Board will do all we can to keep our members unified, informed, and supported through these times.

We have set up a weekly virtual meeting with the area emergency veterinary hospitals to keep our finger on the pulse of the front lines. We will relay any pertinent information to our area hospitals so that we can all function in support of each other. Things will inevitably get worse before they get better.

Cristina has been working non-stop to keep our website up to speed. On our PVMA home page there are now direct links to COVID-19
updates as it pertains to our members. Last week we partnered with the Oregon Veterinary Medical Association and Washington State
Veterinary Medical Association to provide an online webinar (1st of a series) on “Leadership Through Crisis” from the Omni Practice
Group and will be hosting our own “Calm in the time of COVID-19” panel of trusted partners, this Thursday at 5pm.

We will continue to look at opportunities to keep you informed and educated. Stay safe everyone. Reach out if you need help, advice, or
assistance in any way.

Best,
Dr. Laura Lambruschi
PVMA President Elect

March 23rd Governor's Order: Stay Home, Save Lives

With this governor’s order ‘Stay home, save lives’. it may be confusing to not see veterinary hospitals and shelters spelled out, however, the way it is interpreted by leadership is that veterinary hospitals and shelters are considered under the umbrella of ‘essential business’. The AVMA and OVMA have advocated for formal inclusion of veterinary hospitals and animal shelters in the list of essential businesses. Your clients/pet owners making their way to/from you, would be doing so appropriately.

Please know, there could be addendums at any time, there may be supportive documents and details coming out, but this is where things are right now.

“Executive Order: Stay Home Except for Essential Needs
On March 23, Kate Brown issued Executive Order 20-12, effective immediately until further notice. This is a statewide order. Failure to comply with the order will be considered an immediate danger to public health.”

AVMA: Veterinary practices are essential businesses

Full Governor’s Order

March 19th- Governor's Order: PPE Preservation

Governor Kate Brown directed all Oregon hospitals, outpatient clinics, and health care providers, including veterinarians and dentists, to cease all non-emergency procedures, in order to preserve personal protective equipment (PPE), such as surgical masks, gowns, and gloves, for health care workers treating COVID-19 patients.

What does this mean for veterinary practices?

Stop any elective surgical procedures that use PPE, which is exam gloves, sterile gloves, masks, gowns, or any other barrier used in medical practice. This order currently is issued through June 15th.

The definition of “elective” can vary according to client and practitioner but, in general, elective surgeries include spays and neuters, dental cleanings, and any other care that could be deferred without causing pain or suffering to our patients. Medical problems that cause patient discomfort that can only alleviated by a procedure needing PPE are not “elective.”

Patient care, including examinations and vaccinations, can continue as they do not require PPE but practitioners should use discretion regarding unnecessary clinic traffic and interpersonal contact due to the mandate of social distancing. Read information and guidelines on this.

Non-Emergency Surgical Procedures

By Executive Order 20-10, Governor Brown has directed veterinary hospitals to cease all elective and non-urgent procedures that utilize Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), in an effort to preserve PPE supplies for COVID-19 response. By March 23, veterinary practices are to stop performing any elective and non-urgent procedures to preserve PPE equipment. Those procedures may be rescheduled to occur not before June 15, but keep in mind they may need to be rescheduled again if her order remains in place at that time. The definition of “elective” can vary according to client and practitioner but, in general, elective surgeries include spays and neuters, dental cleanings, and any other care that could be deferred without causing pain or suffering to our patients. Medical problems that can only alleviated by a procedure needing PPE are not “elective.”

The specific language of the order defining the affected procedures follows: “A procedure or surgery is exempt from the limitations of set forth in paragraph 1(a) of this Executive Order if a three-month delay in the procedure or surgery would put the patient at risk of irreversible harms. Criteria for determining whether irreversible harm exists include but are not limited to:

  • (1) threat to the patient’s life;
  • (2) threat of irreversible harm to the patient’s physical or mental health;
  • (3) threat of permanent dysfunction of an extremity or organ system;
  • (4) risk of metastasis or progression of staging; and
  • (5) risk of rapidly worsening to severe symptoms (time sensitive).”

Surplus PPE

Gov. Brown has asked veterinarians to donate surplus PPE to the human health effort. Per EO 20-10, veterinarians shall assess their stock of PPE by March 27 and then donate surplus, if any. As we had already been asked by the Governor’s office to seek PPE donations from the veterinary community, we are seeking further clarification of this process and will advise the membership once we have it.

Non-Surgical Patient Care

Non-surgical patient care, such as examinations and vaccinations, can continue as it does not require PPE.

It’s important to remember that veterinarians will not necessarily be allocated any additional PPE in the near future so your current inventory may be all that is available to you for now. Read about conservation and re-use strategies.

Full Governor’s Order

March 19th- OVMEB Telemedicine Allowances

Governor Kate Brown has determined that compliance with certain portions of OAR 875-015-0035 (Veterinary Telemedicine) would prevent, hinder, or delay mitigation of the effects of the COVID-19 emergency. Pursuant to her emergency powers under ORS 401.168(2), Governor Brown therefore declares and orders that portions of these rules be suspended for the duration of the COVID-19 state of emergency declared by Executive Order 20-03.

Effective immediately and until further notice. This means that veterinarians have the option to provide treatment via Veterinary Telemedicine without first having conducted a physical exam. Please note that all other portions of the rule continue to apply.

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