Pueblo veterinary clinic forced to cut services following COVID outbreak


PUEBLO – The COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenge for Colorado vets. This week, a COVID-19 outbreak at a veterinary clinic in Pueblo forced them to drastically cut services due to a staff shortage.

Dr Tiffany Barr-Ashby said her father and another veterinarian founded the Mesa Veterinary Clinic in 1978. She said the clinic has always been busy, but the COVID-19 pandemic has made it more difficult to keep track of Requirement. “Stress is probably the best way to describe it… We’ve always known busy, but it’s been more of the madness than the activity,” said Dr. Barr-Ashby.

For more than a year, she said the pandemic had exhausted staff both mentally and emotionally. “We started curbside the minute the pandemic started and the volume never stopped… 800 to 1,000 calls per day for a small community clinic,” said Dr Barr-Ashby.

Dr Barr-Ashby said when full there are about 40 employees. Right now they have around 35.

From September 28 to October 5, Dr Barr-Ashby said five of his team members tested positive for COVID-19. The first positive case was found in a vaccinated employee. The clinic reported the cases to the Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment.

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment guidelines define an outbreak as five people who test positive for COVID-19 where transmission is identified between individuals.

On Tuesday, Dr Barr-Ashby said they had been informed by the Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment that all their unvaccinated staff were to be returned home to quarantine. She said that totaled about half of their employees. “Anyone who has called today who can’t get in anywhere else and wants to know when we can schedule them, it might not be until next year,” said Dr Barr-Ashby.

Those in the Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment said they were following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which state that unvaccinated people who are exposed to a positive case of COVID-19 should be quarantine and monitor for symptoms at home.

However, sending so many employees home has forced the clinic to change the way it operates for the time being. Dr Barr-Ashby said they only had enough staff to monitor phones and treat patients already in hospital. She said they will do their best to cope with emergencies and help pets with critical medical or dietary needs. “Sad for the community. That we’ve been here for 50 years and we can’t be here. And it’s been going like this for 20 months, but this is the first time that we have to restrict services this much,” said the Dr Barr-Ashby.

Dr Barr-Ashby said unvaccinated staff members should have completed their quarantine on October 21.

Pueblo Director of Public Health Randy Evetts said the Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment and the Mesa Veterinary Clinic are discussing precautions to reduce and control the current and future spread of COVID -19, and to ensure that their essential services are available in the region.

News5 reached out to several people who commented on the clinic’s Facebook post. Deann Pujol made this statement:

It is an excellent clinic. They work very hard to serve our community. They have worked under even more difficult circumstances as they have done their best to treat a huge volume of patients throughout the ongoing pandemic. It is very sad that the pandemic has hit the clinic so virulently and I hope and pray that all affected doctors and team members make a full recovery and the clinic can reopen soon.

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