California: Let veterinarians use telemedicine in pandemic!

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California's stay-at-home order is saving lives. Telemedicine is a vital tool for doctors to provide needed care and protect the health of the public by staying at home. Our pets are essential members of our families and we deserve all the tools available to keep them, and us, healthy.

Unlike any other state in the country, the California Veterinary Medical Board published guidelines making it harder instead of easier for veterinarians to use telemedicine. Even if we have an established relationship with our veterinarians, we can't utilize telemedicine for our pets unless it's for a pre-existing condition. We now have to put ourselves at risk for simple problems like allergies and heartworm medications that could have been managed at home. 

Telemedicine is not a substitute for in-person care. Veterinarians can and should be available for urgent needs that can't be handled at home. On the other hand, residents shouldn't have to put themselves at risk for simple care that our veterinarians are comfortable with diagnosing with telemedicine.

The Veterinary Medical Board is tasked with protecting the consumers and the animals here in California. The governor made clear that healthcare providers should do everything possible to help patients remain at home whenever prudent. This is a tool that will save lives during the pandemic. If telemedicine is good enough for our grandparents, our children, and ourselves, shouldn't it be good enough for our pets?

Let California veterinarians use telemedicine based on their clinical judgment. Don't make that decision for them. As a veterinarian and a pet owner myself, I care about my neighbors and their pets, and I know that being able to use telemedicine can help them both stay safe.