Imagine driving 100 mph on a curvy racetrack with no guard rails – all day, every day, for over a year – while trying to keep a smile on your face and avoid a fiery crash.
That’s how health care workers – including veterinary staff – feel. Veterinary clinics nationwide have experienced a surge in demand as stay-at-home families adopt pets. While that’s a wonderful thing for animal shelters (many shelter pets have found forever homes), from a health care perspective, we’re seeing:
Increased emergency visits.
Emergency veterinary clinics nationwide are typically backed up 6-to-12 hours and are often forced to turn patients away.
Clinics such as Atlantic Veterinary Hospital are taking in more emergencies daily, because we no longer have the option of referring critical patients to emergency clinics.
Pet emergencies are time-consuming, and because emergencies require immediate attention, well-pet appointments sometimes have to be rescheduled.
Increased wait times to schedule appointments and increased time for the appointment.
Veterinary clinics nationwide are booked out anywhere from four days to three weeks. The increase in pet emergencies, combined with a shortage of skilled veterinary nurses and the inefficiency of curbside service, all contribute to the problem.
What you can do:
1. Understand that our pre-COVID world no longer exists.
Life looks so much different today than it did in February of 2020! Our staff is committed to providing top-quality care, and we are also committed to abiding by Washington State’s COVID-19 health guidance to keep you and our staff safe.
2. Think ahead. Be patient and kind.
We keep a number of same-day urgent care appointments available every day. These appointments are filled quickly, so call early if you think your pet needs to be seen right away.
Urgent care appointments have a higher charge than a regularly scheduled appointment. Learn more about typical conditions we see in urgent care.
We continue to provide concierge curbside service.
When we are able to allow pet parents back in the hospital, only one adult client at a time (not couples or families) will accompany their pet.
How Concierge Curbside Service Works
- Complete all necessary online intake forms before your appointment time.
- We will send you pre-appointment information, including a Zoom meeting link.
- You and your pet arrive in our parking lot and remain in your vehicle.
- Text us from the parking lot: 206-323-4433.
- Our staff will escort your pet into the hospital while you remain in our parking lot.
- Our staff and doctors will communicate with you via either Zoom, AirVet virtual visit, or phone, provide care for your pet, and then return your pet to your vehicle. Please be prepared to answer the doctor’s call while you are waiting in your car.
- Payment can be collected via a hands-free device in the parking lot.
You’ll want to plan your pet’s visit well in advance, and be patient with us if you experience a delay.
3. Take advantage of virtual veterinary consultations.
Virtual visits are an alternative to curbside visits. We’ve partnered with Airvet, a service where you and your pet can have a consultation with a veterinarian from the comfort of your own home.
During the appointment, you and your pet are on a video call (similar to Zoom, FaceTime, or Skype), where you are virtually in the exam room with the doctor, nurse, and your pet.
When you use Airvet for a scheduled pet behavior consult, you will talk with the veterinarian with whom you scheduled the consultation.
Telemedicine is also helpful for pet parents who have after-hours questions and concerns. The Airvet system will attempt to schedule you with one of our doctors. If we’re unavailable, you will consult with one of our partnered Airvet doctors.
Airvet is a quick and efficient way to ask questions, do follow-ups, and sometimes, to get the reassurance you need during those moments of “I don’t know if I should be freaking out or not!”
Click here to learn more about Airvet works and to download the Airvet app.
We so much appreciate our pet patients and their human counterparts! Thank you for your continued patience and grace as we mutually adjust to “the new normal.”
The staff at Atlantic Veterinary Hospital
Thank you for the information, very helpful. Also, thank you for the wonderful care we receive from everyone on the staff at Atlantic Vet Hospital. We have always been treated with grace and respect.
One of my friend has a hamster and it is sick and has its hand cut so she wants to take it to the vet. Its helpful when you mentioned to complete all necessary online intake forms before your appointment time. Thanks for the article on a successful virtual vet visit and I will share your article with my friend so that she can take her hamster to a suitable vet.
My friend wants to take her sick hamster, which has had its hand severed, to the veterinarian. It was good to hear that you should finish all the online intake paperwork before your visit. I appreciate your post on conducting a successful virtual vet appointment, and I’ll pass it along to a friend so she may take her hamster to a qualified doctor.
It helped me when you said how pet emergencies take time, and since they need to be handled right away, well-pet checkups occasionally need to be rescheduled. One of my friends has a dog and injured its arm. I’ll keep in mind to share this article with him so he can know that he can consult veterinary virtually.