Winter months for South African veterinary practices are generally the quieter months of the year. In many provinces winter makes it a bit colder and more bearable to get some work done without a fan running all the time. If you are not one of those that is lucky enough to go on a game drive in the Kruger National Park or snuggle up in a log cabin somewhere in the Drakensberg then this winter maintenance checklist is something you should do.
Check the practice garden
If your practice does not already have a garden, or if your garden does not look what it used to look like, winter can be a great time to pretty things up again.
For those practices without a garden, a small visible area at the entrance of the practice is a great way to get your fingers dirty (wear gloves if you need to =p). Even getting a few, large, good looking pots (with a NO dog peeing allowed sign) will add a bit off professionalism to the entrance.
If you do have a garden, but has been “neglected a bit lately”, then winter is also a great time to get things back on track for spring. Even by starting off small, e.g. cutting off dead pieces, removing dead plants, doing some weeding and adding compost, the results will speak for itself.
Maybe not for this year yet, but by doing some research on Google (or in your favourite gardening magazine), there will be a lot of ideas on how to pretty up your garden in winter for next year. Irses, Tulips and Daffodils are for example among the favourite flowers during the winter months. In the garden, winter is more the time to prepare for the upcoming spring.
Consider painting the practice walls
Coinciding with the building season in summer rainfall areas, winter is a great time to do some catch-up painting. Although one might be hesitant, painting does not always have to be done by a professional painter. One can start small, e.g. one wall at a time and maybe even make it a practice activity and a braai afterwards.
Get ready to fill up those ugly looking cracks, grab some old shoes and clothes (most vets will have them) and get that wall painted. Most good hardware stores will have plenty of advice and probably all the accessories and consumables needed for any sized paint jobs.
Check the practice lighting
Having longer nights and dark periods) the quieter winter months is a great time for checking the overall lighting of the practice. While working with electrical components, it is also be a good idea to get the electrician in to do some routine maintenance testing.
Although this might sound silly, check and change the non-working light bulbs and tubes (inside and outside). Some lighting components that uses batteries may also need a battery replacement or two. While on the task, it is also be a good idea to start a record log, logging the replacement dates of all the all lighting and battery components.
Although some areas might just need maintenance, other areas could benefit from an upgrade. We for example recently had to replace our light fittings because the original tubes were not available anymore. Also look at the lighting from a client’s perspective. Preferably, there should be no dark (public) areas in a veterinary practice and adequate lighting should be installed.
Service the practice equipment
Checking and servicing veterinary practice equipment has to be done regularly – why not schedule it to be done the quieter months of the year?
Important equipment includes microscopes, blood machines, X-ray and sonar machines, endoscopes and otoscopes, but don’t forget the non-clinical equipment such as generators, clocks, computers and printers. The service frequency of high-spec equipment can be obtained by consulting with the specific manufacturer or representative.
Some equipment comes with instructions on how to service and maintain them in-house, but professional technicians will be needed for others. Another consideration is that some high demand or far away technicians can take weeks to months before they can attend.M
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