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Paging Dr. Eileen

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An Animal Hospital Emergency Room Shift

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As I’m sure anyone with a pet knows veterinary clinics, urgent care centers, and emergency rooms have been overwhelmed with patients for the last 18 months. Recently, I decided to help out the most overworked section of our field – the emergency room. I have been in general practice my entire career, so this was an entirely new experience!

I arrived at 8 AM, the veterinarian that had worked all night was trying to finish up paperwork so she could get home a sleep a little before she had to be back that night at 6pm. All the hospitalized patients had been transferred to their respective departments and treatments completed. As she was doing this, new patients were continuing to arrive. They are currently working on a tiered system and we were turning away non-emergency cases (ear infections, urinary tract infections, etc.). Technicians were sent to triage patients prior to them being checked in and if they were sick enough to stay, they would be admitted. We were currently working on a 3-4 hour wait, but as the day progressed, it was closer to 5-6 hour wait. Twice during my shift, we had to completely shut down and not accept new patients because there was no space to put new ones. I saw patients that needed advanced imaging that would not be available for 24-48 hours. One of these patients waited about 4 hours to be evaluated and then drove two and half hours trying to get advanced imaging for their pet!

I was the only doctor on shift from 8 – 11 AM and was responsible for all the patients that came in for help. It was a lot of them. I didn’t get lunch, I got yelled at for testing that wasn’t available. I had owners yell at me about the waiting time. I had owners yell at me for recommending testing that costed significantly more than with their primary veterinarian. Pet owners, it was hard! I also had several owners that were happy I was there to help their pet and that is what the entire staff was there to do. Can you imagine spending your entire life/ career learning to care for sick animals and having to tell worried owners we could not help them? It happened so many times in one shift and it was heartbreaking. There was literally no time to even dwell on it because every time there was a minute to consider taking a break, I was given a cat that cannot breathe, a dog that is urinating blood after suffering several yellow jacket stings, hypoglycemic neonates, a dog that cannot use either of his back legs, a dog with a complex fracture and bones sticking out of its leg, a dog that ate a sock over a week ago and was significantly dehydrated. The list goes on…

Another doctor came it at 11am and she started accepting more patients right away and her case load was heavier than mine because she had worked emergency and had this down to a science-total rock star! I took my last case at 4:30pm and didn’t leave the hospital until 7pm.

I have known for a year that the emergency rooms are overwhelmed. I have sent them my patients that need care and I felt bad about it every time. I have sent them patients that I was too busy to see because I knew the pet needed help. What I did not realize is how badly the ER’s need HELP. There are several things you can do if your pet needs emergency care that will help the doctors working in the ER. First, decide if it is really an emergency or if it can wait for your regular veterinarian to be open. Second, call ahead to be sure the facility is accepting patients. Third, be prepared to wait, for a long time! Calling to check in to see if you pet is okay and where he/she is in line is fine but be nice- everyone inside is working as fast as they can and will be with you when they can. Fourth, if you have a budget let us know upfront and be sure to ask for estimates. Fifth, thank the technicians when they bring your pet back to you. They won’t tell you but they may have just finished working on an animal that didn’t make it and they still have to recover from that!

If you are a veterinarian reading this call your local referral center and offer to work a relief shift to give those heroes a break.

If you are a pet owner reading this, seek care early if you notice a problem. If you have a true emergency be patient and kind each staff member present is working nonstop to provide care for everyone’s pets.

[/vc_column_text][/trx_section][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css=”.vc_custom_1533135180690{margin-top: 40px !important;}”][vc_column css=”.vc_custom_1533134942241{background-color: #d9ae4c !important;}”][trx_title type=”2″ align=”left” color=”#f6f2e4″ left=”20″ right=”20″]About Dr. Eileen Savier[/trx_title][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1533135315368{padding-right: 20px !important;padding-bottom: 30px !important;padding-left: 20px !important;}”]Dr. Eileen SavierBarks & Recreation is proud to feature Dr. Eileen Savier CVA, CVCH as our Veterinary Blogger in our “From the Vet” Series. Currently part of the team of doctors at Keystone Veterinary Clinic, Dr. Savier is a 2012 Graduate of the Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine, She completed her clinical experience at The Ohio State University and after veterinary school she pursued further education and certification in Veterinary Acupuncture, Chinese Herbal Medicine, and Fear Free veterinary visits. Dr. Savier has a special interest in integrative medicine, animal behavior, and internal medicine and is committed to improving animal health care by integrating Eastern and Western philosophies. She enjoys working with fearful & aggressive dogs and cats and she has had additional training in low stress handling techniques and encourages positive reinforcement during exams and procedures. Her clinical interests include pain management, animal behavior, geriatric patient care, and internal medicine. Dr. Savier is a member of the following associations:

Dr. Savier shares her home with two (soon to be three) dogs, two cats, and a toddler. She lovingly refers to her two dogs as Coconut Retrievers as they were rescue dogs she brought home from the island of St. Kitts. In her free time she enjoys spending time with her family, going to the beach, and planning her next Disney vacation.

Join us every month for Dr. Savier’s “From the Vet” series to get more information related to the health and welfare of your furry family members![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]