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Why is the Wait So Long | Emergency Veterinary Hospitals

IndyVet Emergency and Specialty Hospital is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to provide emergency and critical care to pets.  This 30,000 square foot facility houses an emergency department and eight specialty departments including Critical Care, Ophthalmology, Oncology, Surgery, Rehabilitation, Neurology, Anesthesia, and Internal Medicine.  With over 100 people on staff, you may be asking yourself ‘why is the wait so long’?

It seems simple.  With that many staff members, we should be able to see a lot of patients and get them in quickly, right?  Unfortunately, the numbers don’t tell the whole story, so let me explain why you may be experiencing longer than normal wait times when you visit an emergency veterinary hospital.

The most obvious problem we are all facing right now is Covid-19.  While it seems Covid-19 wouldn’t affect an industry that is dealing with animals, Covid-19 has created some major challenges in the veterinary world.  Let me show you how Covid-19 has directly impacted our emergency veterinary hospital.

Staff Members

Due to Covid-19, any staff members who display any coronavirus symptoms, or were directly exposed are required to be tested, and must be determined to be negative prior to returning to work.  Any team member receiving a positive test result is quarantined for the mandatory 10 days. This has caused many shifts to become short staffed.  While the “on-call” system that we have in place allows enough staff to carry on, the overwhelming caseload and pressures that Covid-19 has presented takes its toll. We continue to grow our staff in our emergency and specialty departments to keep up with demand. To see our available careers, click here.

General Veterinary Clinic Closures

Covid-19 has also affected the staffing of general veterinary clinics.  Because general clinics have a smaller staff, some clinics have been forced to close. When the general practices close, they refer their patients to 24/7 animal hospitals like IndyVet.   Since March of 2020, IndyVet has seen three times the number of emergency patients than were seen in 2019, mainly due local veterinarians referring patients due to closures, or being overwhelmed from their own short staffing difficulties. 

The Triage Process

When a pet arrives at IndyVet, our technicians evaluate them and get a complete history. This assessment allows our team to identify the most life-threatening problems.  Pets who are experiencing life-threatening difficulties requiring immediate attention are prioritized over pets who need less urgent care. If your wait is longer than someone else’s, keep in mind that your pet may not be in as desperate a condition as another that is being attended to immediately.  There can be significant waiting periods depending on the number of emergency patients arriving.  Please try to be patient and kind to the staff as we work diligently to ensure each patient receives the best possible care and chance at life.  If you notice your pet’s condition is declining during your wait, please notify a member of our team immediately. 

Updates on Your Pet

Depending on caseload, clients may call and receive immediate updates for their pet from a veterinary technician as workload permits. In-patient rounds occur from 7am – 9am in the mornings and every evening from 6pm to 7pm.  During rounds doctors and technicians discuss plans, diagnostics, and ongoing care of hospitalized patients, so our staff are less available for updates during this time of day.  Clients waiting to hear back from their pet’s attending veterinarian, can expect calls when the doctor has completed rounds and early morning or evening appointments.  Consequently, phone calls for updates may be returned as late as 11am in the morning, or 9pm in the evening.

One Pet Does Not Equal One Team Member

IndyVet has a staff of over 100 individuals because we operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  We have teams for days, nights and weekends.  It takes a team of technicians to secure and run diagnostic tests, place IV catheters, take x-rays, perform ultrasound, and care for a single patient.  A single patient in shock due to extensive trauma may take as many as a half dozen technicians in addition to a doctor more than an hour to provide the most immediate lifesaving care. 

We know that pets are a precious part of every family and having an emergency is hard, confusing, and scary.  We understand that waiting any amount of time is stressful, but realize our team is doing all they can to ensure that each patient receives the care, love and compassion that they need. 

It Can Be Hard Being a Veterinary Health Care Worker

Veterinarians and veterinary technicians work for the love of animals.  It can be emotionally taxing.  Realize the technician or veterinarian that is seeing your pet today may have just experienced losing a critical patient just moments before, may have worked a double shift to cover someone who is sick, may be caring for multiple critical cases at one time, or may have just spent 20 minutes resuscitating a dying pet.  Remember to be kind, patient, understanding, and compassionate to those that are trying to help pets recover.  Help them to help your pet.  They have the same goal as you do, to get your pet home as quickly as possible. 

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IndyVet does not accept patients for routine/general medical care