While animal doctors will not be responsible for treating human coronavirus patients, they could be called upon to help in other ways.
Respirators from the Bern Animal Clinic have already been requisitioned by hospitals, since these devices are similar to the ones used in human medicine and can be quickly adopted to human needs.
The Animal Clinic told RTS television this week that seven of its respirators are ready for delivery to hospitals, and it is possible to increase this number if needed.
Other animal clinics in Switzerland are also offering respirators, as well as oxygen extractors and masks.
The veterinarians could also provide ‘behind-the-scenes’ support in hospitals where there is shortage of medical personnel, performing tasks they have been trained to do.
For instance, they could take blood samples, said Olivier Glardon, president of the Swiss Veterinarian Society (SVS).
“Our knowledge, equipment and commitment can help save human lives”, he added.
However, Glardon noted that in order for veterinarians to be massively deployed in hospitals, “the health system in Switzerland would have to be completely overwhelmed,” which is not the case at this point.
“We are not overcrowded at the moment,” Jérôme Pugin, head of the intensive care unit at the Geneva University Hospital (HUG) confirmed in an interview this week.
He added that his and other medical centres are “mobilising all the resources inside and outside the hospitals to avoid disastrous situations”.
These measures include the requisitioning of private clinics if public hospitals become saturated with coronavirus cases, and the possibility of transferring patients between hospitals and even to other cantons.