The rising omikron wave has led to staff shortages at veterinary hospitals in the Okanagan with many struggling to keep up with demand.
Fairfield Animal Hospital is the largest and only 24-hour animal hospital in the Okanagan. Dr. Jennifer Watt is the MD at Fairfield.
“It’s getting to the point where we’re trying to attract doctors and support staff from other clinics to help us keep the doors open 24 hours a day.”
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Pet owners need to be willing to experience longer waiting times, but that the hospital does the best they can, she said.
“Our doors are always open. We do work on a triage system, so sometimes there is a bit of a wait. If you have to wait, it’s good, because it means your pet is not as sick as others. ”
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Other clinics in the Okanagan do not have the capacity to move in staff to cover the shortages.
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Dr. Moshe Oz at Rose Valley Veterinary Hospital says they have also been largely affected by staff shortages due to COVID.
“We probably had a good 25 percent of our staff week after week from the end of December to the beginning of January.”
Getting staff from other clinics is not an option, Oz said.
“Unfortunately, we do not have additional hospitals from which to draw our staff and doctors, so it really only comes down to the staff we have in the clinic and people moving into different roles.”
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The mental well-being of doctors and staff working in the front lines is tense.
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“The other thing we are dealing with is stress leave. Many of our doctors find it really difficult to work these shifts and have a life, ”explains dr. Watt.
“We always try to balance by saying yes [to clients while managing] staff well-being and does not cause burnout ”, says dr. Oz.
The crux of the matter for pet owners is to be patient.
Dr. Watt said: “Staff try their best if [they] able to save lives and keep animals healthy. ”