Feral Cat Coalition Clinic Procedures
Primary duties of the clinic supervisor:
Clinic supervisors are responsible for coordination before, during, and after each FCC clinic to ensure they will run in a smooth and organized manner. The key to doing this is to delegate all responsibilities and to know how each station is supposed to be run so you can advise volunteers how to operate most efficiently.
Telephone the veterinarian's office where the clinic is to be held and request an appointment to walk through the facility. When you visit, you must determine the optimum layout and traffic flow for an FCC clinic; consideration must be given to the location of Admitting, Anesthesia, Prep, Surgery, Ears & Vaccines, and Recovery areas. Layout of stations and traffic flow must be efficient: flow is ideal in a straight pattern (therefore no backtracking); second best is in a circular pattern. It's also important to consider time of day and weather conditions, as Admitting, Ears & Vaccines, and Recovery usually take place outside; determine whether it will be necessary to use the canopy and/or tarps.
Most clinics are at facilities that have been used before, so it won't be necessary to visit if you can accurately remember the layout and flow pattern. Even if you don't have to visit, call the facility in advance and speak to the Host Veterinarian; introduce yourself and find out if there are any special circumstances we must be aware of. Also find out when the facility closes for business (to find out when we can start setting up inside) or if it must be opened for you (get the name and number of who will let you in to ensure access at least half an hour before surgery start time).
Telephone the Veterinarian Coordinator to check in. Find out how many veterinarians are scheduled to work and their surgical speed; also check if he/she has any special instructions.
Telephone the Supply Coordinator and make arrangements to pick up the supplies (unless he/she is attending the clinic and can bring them). Supplies include several large storage boxes with surgical and prep items, tie-down boards for spays, tables, canopies, tarps, easy-wipe info boards, and trap covers.
Telephone the Reservation Coordinator to find out the number of cats scheduled; have him/her mail you a copy of the reservation list if he/she won't be at the clinic during admitting.
Make labels (based on number of cats scheduled) and copies of fliers and caretaker handouts.
The Volunteer Coordinator will mail or fax you the job assignment list; he/she will also call if there are any changes, volunteer shortages, new volunteers, or special circumstances. Make sure that there aren't too many new people in any one job category. Imagine having a "no-show" in each area and pre-plan how you would juggle volunteers to make it work. Designate an experienced Team Leader for each area who will be responsible for organizing team members, set-up, clean-up, training new volunteers, reviewing procedures with everybody, and ensuring their team members know what to do. If you select someone who has not been a Team Leader before, telephone them so they're aware of their responsibilities. Good Team Leaders take a lot of the burden off the Supervisor and make things run much more smoothly! Make up 3" x 5" cards for each Team Leader and attach a copy of the applicable procedure (more copies if new people in that job description). List the volunteers assigned to each job (note if any are new) as well as any procedural changes or notes of interest.
Once the job assignments are set, list all job titles and who is working where on a sheet of paper or on an easy-wipe board (bring eraser or wipecloth to clinic things always change!). At clinic, place list near volunteer sign-in area so people can see at a glance where they'll be, who they'll be working with, and how they'll fit in the big picture.
Caretakers often arrive early with cats, so set up the Admitting area immediately! You (or someone you designate) must bring the following items:
Write pick-up time on an easy-wipe board so caretakers know when to return. Generally, a veterinarian can spay/neuter 4 - 5 cats per hour; this takes into account many factors such as surgical speed of vet, whether it's a spay or neuter, and any medical problems or pregnancies. You can get a general idea of the clinic length by multiplying the number of vets by 4 - 5 cats per hours, then dividing that number into the total number of cats registered, giving you the number of hours for the clinic. Adjust this estimate as needed (e.g., lots of males means a shorter clinic).
Place signs in Admitting area for placement of FEMALES, MALES, AND UNKNOWNS, putting females in closest proximity to the Anesthesia area. Generally, the order of surgery is ALL FEMALES, then ALL UNKNOWNS, then ALL MALES. Occasionally, however, a Vet will be there specifically to do neuters (at his/her request or Veterinarian Coordinator's); if so, alternate FEMALES and MALES going to Anesthesia (watch the flow carefully) and do UNKNOWNS last.
Introduce yourself to the practice owner and staff members and thank them for allowing us to use their hospital. Tell them you'd like feedback at the end of the day to ensure they were not inconvenienced and to identify areas we can improve on. Review the hospital flow plan and make adjustments if necessary. Ask if there are any areas we must specifically avoid (besides the vet's personal office, reception desk, and kitchen/lounge areas always try to steer clear of these). Ask them to let you know when we'll be allowed to start setting up (sometimes we'll be allowed in back areas even if clients are still there).
Check in volunteers: have them sign in, make themselves a name tag, and review the procedure for their job assignment. Locate Team Leaders and give them their 3" x 5" cards; introduce new volunteers to their Team Leader as they arrive and make them feel welcome. Team Leaders should organize and brief team members either as a group or individually; tell them to let you know if some volunteers have not arrived so you can juggle job assignments if necessary. Interface with Team Leaders to make sure all volunteers know their assignment and responsibilities. Volunteers should also be reminded of the following:
About 15 minutes before scheduled (surgery) start time, have Anesthesia AHT mix the "cocktail" so they'll be ready to go. (Once inside, set up this area first as they must be ready to start several minutes before the other areas in order to have cats anesthetized and ready for the veterinarians).
Immediately after getting permission, ask only the Supply Coordinator, Anesthesia team, Prep Team Leader, Vet Assist Team Leader, and Transport Team Leader to enter facility and set up their stations (may let Anesthesia to Prep Transporters start lining their area with newspaper, too). Everybody wants to go inside and get going, but having just a few set up will avoid inevitable confusion! Refer to job procedures for info regarding supply distribution; review each station to make sure each one is set up properly and ready to go: Enough cold sterile? Trash bags (one for trash, one for tissue, and one for used drapes at each surgery station)? Tie-down boards ready to go? etc. If additional supplies are needed during the clinic, the Supervisor or Supply Person is responsible for dispensing extras. Affix signs reading "FCC PERSONNEL ARE NOT TO USE FACILITY SUPPLIES" to towel dispensers or other strategic locations.
Look for veterinarians as they arrive; ask each vet (Host gets first choice) which station they'd prefer and dispense their gloves accordingly. A VETERINARIAN MUST BE IN THE FACILITY WHEN ANESTHESIA BEGINS! Have Anesthesia AHT start "popping" cats immediately when vets arrive and are ready to start (usually 2 cats per vet to get things going). Bring in remaining volunteers and the clinic can officially begin.
It's important that we start on time and that veterinarians are kept supplied with cats so the clinic is completed in a timely manner and the vets are never standing around! Carefully observe the speed of the vets and the backlog in Prep so you can pace Anesthesia; once the clinic gets going (ideally), Anesthesia should never have to stop "popping"!
During the clinic, don't allow individuals into the facility unless you know they are volunteers or on staff, or have been invited by one of the vets. New volunteers should be encouraged to "tour" the facility during surgery so they can see how the entire clinic operates, BUT they must first clear it with their Team Leader (so they know volunteers are away from their stations) and you must accompany them (so they're not in the way if it's hectic in Prep or Surgery). Children are never allowed at clinics for their own safety and the cats'!
If cats have been euthanized, ask the Host Veterinarian if we can use his/her freezer (usually OK, but we must provide a check for disposal charge).
We must clear out of the hospital ASAP after the last surgery so the Host Vet can lock up and go home! Make sure each team thoroughly cleans their area, empties trash, and prepares supplies for packing. Locate outside dumpsters for final trash drop-off and place new plastic trash bags in receptacles. Return chairs, etc. to their original positions. Sweep or vacuum AND mop the floors (check with Host Vet to see if they have specific instructions, such as using a special floor cleaner). Make very sure that rooms do not have a lingering odor use an odor neutralizer just to be sure. Leave the hospital cleaner than it usually is at the end of a business day! Be the last person to inspect the premises and make sure the host vet is satisfied with the condition of the hospital. Ask for his/her comments (so they know we're constantly trying to make any needed improvements and ensure smooth-running clinics) and be sure to thank him/her for the use of the facility.
Ensure that the outside of the clinic is cleaned up as well; look for bits of newspaper, cigarette butts, and other trash we might have left. Work with Recovery Team Leader to ensure all cats have been picked up by their Caretakers; call anyone who is late. You are ultimately responsible for any abandoned cats, so you must stay until all have been accounted for.
Supplies must be returned to the Supply Coordinator if he/she did not attend the clinic. Supply Coordinator (or designee) also receives used blue drapes, surgical towels, and instruments so they can be washed and autoclaved for the next clinic.
Send volunteer list to Volunteer Coordinator. Send donations to Treasurer (if necessary, money from donation jar can be used during clinic for refreshments). Send Caretaker Sign-in sheets to Reservation Coordinator. Surgical Log sheet goes to Recorder who then sends copy to the Statistician.
Remember, something untoward may happen at each clinic. If we were a highly paid surgical team and had the same people in the same positions performing the same function over and over again, we might see perfection consistently. However, since we are all volunteers, albeit dedicated and committed, and we have a different team every time, inconsistencies may occur. Roll with the punches, and "don't worry, be happy"! All that matters is that we get the cats safely spayed and neutered. Amen.
[Page updated November 2009]