Dear Clients -
Thank you first for taking the time to read this. Our team members value each of you as clients and are thankful for entrusting us with your pet’s care. This year we have been blessed with being able to stay open through covid restraints and continuing to grow and offer you and your furry friends the best in veterinary care.
As a client at Boca Park, you probably have called to book an appointment, request medicine, or called to speak with a veterinarian. By chance, you may have noticed we have been busier than usual, taking longer to book an appointment, get medicine filled, or even hear back from the veterinarian. The majority of that having to do with the influx of pets over the last 1.5 years, staffing issues suffering across the nation, and a decrease in overall veterinarians and vet nurses graduating and leaving the industry.
A surge in pet ownership over the past year has raised demands on veterinarians, a profession already under strain from burnout and emotional stress. Most industries across the nation are suffering from staff shortages, the veterinary industry included, coupled with changes to employee illness protocols, it has made seeing every patient challenging.
More than 11 million U.S. households took in a new pet during the COVID pandemic as of last September, according to the American Pet Products Association. The effects will be lasting for the industry as the increase in demand will be seen for the average lifespan of pets ranging from 10 to 16 years. In addition, pets owners working from home has permitted them to have more time in noticing things happening with their pets that normally they would not notice. Some clients stating, “being home more often has made them realize how much more time and attention pets need.”
The influx in patients has caused a “domino effect” with the increase in demand and decrease in staff. With veterinarians and veterinary nurses leaving the profession at record rates due to stress and other factors, among high suicide rates ( https://tinyurl.com/3pek4f2f ), hospitals are left short-handed.
The Massachusetts Veterinary Medical Association released a statement explaining some of the factors contributing to long wait times at veterinarian offices. “During the pandemic, pet ownership surged, resulting in an unprecedented demand for veterinary care,” the association’s statement read. “This, coupled with an existing shortage of veterinary professionals, has resulted in significant pressures on veterinary teams, especially for emergency care. For pet owners this means much longer wait times than usual, and possibly being bounced from hospital to hospital since some locations are above capacity and cannot see additional patients.”
Across town, veterinary businesses have closed, shortened hours, and refused new clients. Local veterinary emergency centers are back logged and referring patients back to primary care doctors. Our hospital is fortunate that we have been staying afloat, still suffering from the same shortages, but managing.
Our staff can be described as “overworked” after a year of increased stress and demand from pet owners, seeing 60-80 cases a day, some routine appointments, some very ill patients. That’s roughly a 150% increase in caseload over pre-pandemic years. Our hospital has added over 10 staff positions since pre-pandemic and continually are trying to fill positions. In addition, we have expanded, adding four more exam rooms to help with case load.
Our goal is to be there for our existing clients, continuing the same support as before, but also offering services for those new clients/patients, and lending a helping hand to the emergency centers. That credit is owed to our dedicated staff.
We want to remind pet owners that our staff is under immense pressure and to treat them courteously. We are doing all we can to help support our staff through these difficult times. Please have patience with our front staff when calling. Please call for prescriptions 2-3 days ahead. If your pet is due for vaccines or non-emergent care, consider booking the appointments in advance. Lab work and radiology results will be called in a timely manner, if they are urgent, we will call sooner. Expect your vet to return your call in 72 hours, if its urgent then consider scheduling an urgent care appointment. Our trained staff can assess and evaluate if your pet needs urgent care or can be seen later. Please continue to entrust us with your pet’s care as we want the best for them and you, always. Please treat our staff with kindness, patience, and understanding. In doing so, we can continue to offer the best care and treatments while protecting our incredible staff.
Your Friends at Boca Park Animal Hospital.