Increased demand for pandemic pets has created increased demand for pandemic veterinarians | animal question | Pittsburgh

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Demand for pets has increased during the pandemic as many people have found themselves at home with more time and fewer activities. But with furry, scaled, and feathered new friends in people, vets have faced increased demand for services, while trying to navigate the CDC’s changing safety guidelines over the past year and a half. .

At Greenfield Veterinary Hospital, Dr Sean Winnie and his staff moved to curbside service in March 2020. Since then, they have adapted technologically and logistically to meet growing demand while trying to prioritize to the safety and emotions of animals, pet owners, and neighborhood clinic staff.

“[My staff] are pet owners themselves and have, in some cases, I guess, even more compassion for the owners position, sitting there in the car, wondering what’s going on inside that locked building, that the owners sitting in that car might have suspected, ”says Dr. Winnie. “I couldn’t have gotten through the pandemic as an operation without them. ”

The hospital has undergone many changes in its operations, starting with a curbside service, which required the purchase of a mobile payment service and the increase in the number of telephone lines to cope “between 75 and 125 telephone calls per day “.

Taking into account the Pittsburgh weather, they transformed the waiting room into a locker room to keep staff clean and dry. They bought a blanket that customers could stand under during rain or snow, and provided water for animals and humans who waited during the hottest summer months.

The hardest part, however, was navigating the euthanasies at a time when the number of people who could congregate was limited. During the warmer months and the best weather, hospital staff performed euthanasia on stretchers outside the hospital, and in inclement weather they invited no more than five people into their room. large room in the basement, which was generally used for x-rays.

“It was heartbreaking to see families going through this change and not being able to realize our ideals of how we like to happen under normal circumstances,” said Dr. Winnie.

Parking also became a challenge with curbside service, which often required staff members to walk further and further to pick up animals and bring them inside. The increased demand for services has also resulted in increased wait times, from a wait of two to five days for a routine appointment to a maximum of two to three months.

An increased demand for appointments has also been accompanied by an increased need for staff, which has been compounded by the fact that two staff members took maternity leave during the pandemic. Some veterinary hospitals chose to suspend taking new clients, but the Greenfield Veterinary Hospital continued to do so. They tried to squeeze clients and allowed daytime sightings, where people could drop their pets off for several hours so that doctors could examine them between other appointments. Sometimes they had to direct people to practices focused on emergency care.

Click to enlarge Greenfield Veterinary Hospital - PHOTO: COURTESY OF DR.  SEAN WINNIE

Photo: Courtesy of Dr Sean Winnie

Greenfield Veterinary Hospital

While Dr Winnie says most clients have remained understanding during the hardships of the pandemic, “there has been a simultaneous decrease in tolerance”, particularly with regard to wait times, which Dr Winnie credits to a culture of instant gratification from apps like DoorDash and Uber Eats. Staff were also confronted with customers’ bluntness about the security measures put in place, as well as small mistakes that crept in due to longer and more stressful work weeks.

“I have seen nurses burn out because of this pandemic. I’ve seen personalities fall apart on bad days. I have personally heard and seen my staff get disguised by customers for the slightest affront, ”says Dr Winnie, who notes that the staff remained sympathetic to the fact that the pet owners lived and loved the animals that were theirs. brought.

Yet the negative interactions had a mental and emotional impact. One of the nurses at Greenfield Veterinary Hospital left the field due to self-proclaimed burnout and no longer liked the work environment.

“It was heartbreaking to watch. You know, there is support, there is a risk premium, there is personal contact, there is an open door policy… Yet there is not much we can do to help people get through this. Explains Dr. Winnie.

As the pandemic spreads, the hospital has experienced a slight slowdown in demand. He also moved to a newer building at 701 Hazelwood Ave. – still in Greenfield, so they don’t have to change their name. Although CDC guidelines have relaxed, especially for those who are vaccinated, the hospital still offers curbside service and adheres to safety guidelines.

“We were doing this to try and stay ahead of guidelines, because our staff believed – and I share that belief – that the CDC took a bit of a leap by going straight to an honor system for one people, one percentage. important of them does not honorably believe in science, ”says Dr. Winnie.

Going forward, Dr Winnie says he feels better equipped to handle another emergency like COVID, although he hopes it won’t.

“This is my favorite thing, going on a date with another pet owner and saying, ‘Glad to see you in person and doing it the right way. Hope this continues, ”says Dr. Winnie.


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