What Is Going on With My Veterinarian?
Busy phone lines. No appointments. Long wait times for everything. We know that you are dealing with all of these and we thank you for your patience with us during this unprecedented time. So, what is going on?
Veterinary practices have been dealing with a nationwide phenomenon that began with the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. All around the country, veterinary practices are overwhelmed by the volume of appointment requests, prescription refills and phone calls. Requests for services have exceeded our capacity, resulting in many challenges for veterinarians and their teams across the United States.
Why Is This Happening?
This appears to be a perfect storm of multiple different events coming together at the same time.
New Pet Adoptions
COVID-19 presented a perfect scenario for pet adoption. Quarantine and working from home is a perfect time to train a new pet. Pet adoption rates have climbed resulting in many new puppies and kittens to be seen.
Increased Appointment Requests
We are experiencing an unprecedented number of appointment requests for a few reasons. Pet parents are home and are taking advantage of this time to get their pets in for their wellness exams. Sick appointments and pet accidents are also on the increase. More time spent with our pets outdoors playing, hiking, etc., can, unfortunately, lead to more pet accidents. Owners are also noticing issues with their pets that may have been missed during the busyness of our pre-COVID days and they want to get these things checked out. The increased appointments then result in increased surgeries and procedures.
Reduced Appointment Slots
COVID-19 measures mandated by the state have increased our appointment times, leaving us with less available appointments each day. Curbside appointments take significantly longer to complete than regular in clinic appointments. Unfortunately, until the 14 day quarantine for exposure is lifted, we cannot expose our veterinarians and staff. We cannot risk having employees quarantined at a time when we need them most.
Many veterinary practices have been forced to reduce hours due to a decrease in available staff. High risk staff members have opted not to work during this time. Others are dealing with child care responsibilities and find that they have had to reduce hours or stop working altogether. The veterinary industry has been experiencing a staffing shortage for a couple of years now, so these staff members are not easily replaced. This has forced practices to reduce hours or, in some cases, to close. Practices that are still open are getting an influx of clients who cannot get in with their regular vet due to decreased hours or closures.
As general practitioners, we can typically refer cases to an emergency facility if we are overloaded. Since COVID-19, the ER practices are overwhelmed and cannot handle the volume of referrals. It is not unusual for clients sent to emergency practices to experience 4 to 6 hour wait times due to volume of cases. For that reason, emergency practices are turning back any case that is not dire to the general practitioner so they are able to concentrate on what they do best – emergency medicine.
Where We Are Today
Hopefully, this gives you some insight into some of the things we are dealing with and how it is impacting our ability to provide you with the type of service and experience you are used to receiving at NPAH. We are constantly brainstorming ways to decrease wait times and make things better for you, our clients, and we will continue to do so.
Our veterinarians and support staff are working so hard day after day to provide care for your pets. We all love what we do and we are happily working very hard and many extra hours to ensure we can see as many pets as possible. But, honestly, we are tired. We appreciate our clients so much. Your kind words, patience and treats; as well as, those special moments with your pets, are what keep us going. It is amazing how a few kind words from you or a snuggle with your pet can lift us up. Thank you!
We are looking forward to the time we can welcome you back into our hospital. We miss you and we are hoping that time comes soon! Until then, please bear with us and stay safe.
The Doctors and Staff of NPAH