Jamestown veterinary clinics adapt to changes during pandemic

One clinic went completely curbside in providing services.

progress 2021 prairie vet schlecht two
Melissa Schlecht, veterinarian, performs a surgical procedure on a dog to remove a fatty tumor recently at Prairie Veterinary Hospital in Jamestown. John M. Steiner / The Sun

Editor's note: This story is part of the 2021 "Essential to Jamestown" special edition of The Jamestown Sun. The annual Progress Edition features stories on essential workers, agencies and businesses during the coronavirus pandemic.

Southwood Veterinary Clinic reopened its building to the public about a month ago. Before that, once the coronavirus pandemic began, services continued but were offered in a different way, said Krystal Burgard, licensed veterinary technician.

“Right away, back in April of last year we started going completely curbside so we weren’t having anybody come into the building, we were going in and out getting animals from clients,” she said.

Along with that change, the clinic took pet histories and payments over the phone, Burgard said.

“That was a huge difference compared to what we usually do,” she said of the change in how services were delivered. She said initially it was very stressful for the staff.


‘But we have a really good team so we handled it pretty well,” Burgard said.

Melissa Schlect, a veterinarian at Prairie Veterinary Hospital, said Prairie Veterinary offered curbside service as an option for those uncomfortable with coming inside the clinic.

“We’ve always kind of done that for people that have mobility issues” but it was offered to anyone wanting to avoid contact, she said.

Prairie Veterinary Hospital took such steps as installing Plexiglas shields, requiring face masks and scheduling appointments to help ensure social distancing.

“At the beginning, I would say we definitely saw a decrease in people bringing their pets in, just with the initial panic of everything and the initial closing down of businesses,” Schlecht said. ”We definitely saw a decrease in people coming in. After that initial time I would say it started to pick back up gradually.”

She said early on when the pandemic started, the clinic sent out a lot of medications through the mail. People who normally came in for refills were getting them mailed instead, she said.

“We did our very best to keep things business as usual while still trying to be really sensitive to the needs of our clients,” Schlecht said.

“There’s a lot of talk about telemedicine in the bigger cities,” she said. “So doing phone consults and people sending pictures. We’ve been open to that as well. There’s a lot of things that you just can’t diagnose off of a picture or off of a video for that matter” but if there were clients that wanted them to look at pictures or video before bringing in their pets they were open to that as well, she said.


Burgard said going to the curbside system was an adjustment for the staff at Southwood Veterinary Clinic and appointments took longer to complete but once they had a system in place it went pretty smoothly. A few people didn’t like the change and the staff understood that, she said, but it was necessary to keep people at the clinic safe.

“If all of us end up getting it (coronavirus) at the same time it would completely shut us down,” she said.

Burgard said they took the pandemic seriously, noting there were several pregnant employees working at Southwood Veterinary Clinic. They implemented protocols that she said are expected to continue. At the time of his writing, they are limiting the public to two in the building at a time, requiring face masks and having people stay in the lobby rather than accompany a pet into the exam room.

Burgard said one positive thing that happened due to the pandemic is that people spent more time with their pets and that in turn helped alert them to any changes in their pet’s health.

“They’re noticing things sooner, I think, than if they were at work all day and then just seeing them on the evenings or weekends,” she said. “So people are catching things a lot earlier as well.”

Supplies tight at times

One situation that has arisen during the pandemic is a shortage at times of some supplies, said Burgard.

“We’re actually still dealing with having a hard time getting a lot of products,” she said. “A lot of the dog food, we can’t get in right now, it comes in sporadically.”

A lot of the large animal vaccine has also been on backorder, she said.


Schlecht said Prairie Veterinary Hospital has an online store for purchasing supplies and those sales have increased but she is not sure if it’s due to the pandemic since business was up before the pandemic began.

southwood veterinary clinic staff
Southwood Veterinary Clinic staff, from left, are Macee Moser, certified veterinary assistant; Kim Syverson, office manager; Rachel Hastings, licensed veterinary technician; Drs. Debra Trnovec and Greg Carlson, veterinarians and owners of the clinic; Madelyn Welding and Krystal Burgard, licensed veterinary technicians; and Lisa Johnson, managerial assistant. Kathy Steiner / The Sun

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