Dear Pet Parent,
Thank you for trusting us to care for your family member today. We strive to provide compassionate care and excellent customer service. Our intent of this letter is to communicate with you that our hospital has been experiencing much higher volumes of phone calls and patient visits than is typical. This has resulted in significantly longer wait times. We apologize to you for this inconvenience. We wanted to answer some frequently asked questions surrounding the wait time.
Please know that we care very much. Your patience during this time is very appreciated.
Dr. Marilyn Brink, DVM & Claire Allen
Medical Director Hospital Manager
We have a very small lobby and only 4 examination rooms. We are not able to adhere to CDC guidelines for safe social distancing in light of the COVID-19 pandemic with owners in the hospital. In addition, our lobby and exam rooms have been transitioned to patient kennel space to accommodate the increase in patients arriving for care.
No. All patients are assessed by a triage nurse for vital signs and have an exam by the doctor upon arrival. Patients determined to be in an unstable condition are moved to the front of the line. Life-saving care will be initiated right away as indicated. Stabilization of arriving critical patients does extend the wait time of the patients that have less serious problems.
Dogs are safely housed in a stainless-steel run or kennel. They are provided food (if appropriate), water, a cot, and walks outside. Cats are separated from the dogs in a cat designated room. We provide them with food (if appropriate), water, and a litter box. Upon owner's request, stable pets can wait with their owner.
With the pandemic, a few things have happened within the veterinary profession. First, Governor Whitmer placed restrictions on veterinary practices for the first 2 months of the COVID-19 pandemic. During this time, veterinary practices were only authorized to provide “essential care.” Many veterinary hospitals reduced staffing and split their staff into teams and most of them moved to a curb-side care model. These changes have reduced efficiency and the number of open appointments.
Now that veterinary practices can provide preventive care again (vaccines, heartworm tests, dentistry), most are booked out for several weeks to make up for the months of canceled appointments. As a result, many of the urgently sick pets have been referred to our ER.
Second, neighboring emergency hospitals continue to have interruptions in service, causing a large influx of patients into our ER. This has resulted in an even larger influx of patients into our ER. This problem is affecting veterinary medicine state-wide. Even the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine Small Animal ER announced a reduction of their hours to only be open nights and weekends. Our team is committed to staying open to serve our community. Unfortunately, this commitment has resulted in extended times, but we promise to never turn your family member away.
We have added two doctors to our team, which has resulted in an additional 12 hours of doctor capacity per day. We have also nearly doubled our staffing since the start of this pandemic, and doubled the number of phone lines we have available. We have adjusted our operational protocol monthly to maximize our efficiency and improve our patient care.
Please let us know right away if you are exhibiting signs of respiratory illness (fever, dry cough, shortness of breath) or if you have had exposure to COVID-19. We will provide the same care for your pet regardless. We just need to take extra precautions to keep our staff safe and healthy.
In order to follow recommendations from the CDC to implement social distancing, we are reducing client traffic through our hospital as much as possible. Our lobby is small and will not allow for adequate social distancing.
Please expect to remain either at home or in your car for the remainder of your pet’s visit. We plan to have the vast majority of communications with you over the phone. The primary exception to this will be for euthanasia. Clients electing for euthanasia of their pet will be escorted to a private (well sanitized) exam room.
Your pet was brought to our treatment area for vital signs and a physical examination by a veterinarian.
We typically advise keeping your pet supervised under the care of our veterinarians. If you prefer to bring your pet home during the wait, please call to inform us. As long as your pet is stable, we can keep your place in line and call you to return when it is closer to your pet’s turn to be seen by a vet. During peak times, it is possible that our hospital will reach capacity and some pets will be asked to wait with you (if the veterinarian determines them to be stable).
If our triage nurse determines that your pet is likely to need urgent care (such as pain relief), you will be provided a treatment plan for this before you speak to a doctor. The veterinarian on duty will examine your vet and ultimately decide if this immediate care is necessary.
After your pet is brought into the hospital and we have received the blue sheet to check in your pet, you are welcome to leave as long as you are available by phone. We are happy to call you once care has been completed. We promise to work hard to see you and your pet as soon as we possibly can. Wait times have been severely increased. At peak times, wait times have extended 8-12 hours.
One of our veterinary assistants will call you first to discuss your pet’s medical history. This information will be shared with the veterinarian.
The veterinarian will typically call you next to discuss your pet’s physical examination findings and recommendations for care (diagnostics and treatment).
If diagnostic tests were performed, one of our team members will call to go over these results once they are complete. We will send these results to your primary care veterinarian, but are happy to also email all results to you directly upon request. We will discuss treatment recommendations with you at this time.
Once your pet is ready for discharge, we will call you to go over the discharge instructions and take payment over the phone whenever possible. Due to the high volume of patients being admitted and then being discharged from the hospital, expect there could be a delay with discharge. It is most ideal to complete this step from home before heading in to avoid long wait times in our parking lot. We will provide you with a paper copy of your Discharge Instructions and your credit card receipt at the door once we release your pet back to you.
We normally allow you to visit your pet in the area where they will be hospitalized. Because we are limiting traffic through our hospital, we have changed this policy. We can arrange a hug at the door before you head home. We will accommodate FaceTime visits during hospitalization upon request, as staffing levels permit.
Please call us anytime for an update on your pet. We like to touch base with owners during the daytime. It is best to call any time after 9am to have a better chance of speaking with the veterinarian caring for your pet.
Payment is due at the time of service.
We plan to take payment over the phone whenever possible. Credit cards are easiest to process this way. We will make other arrangements for other payment methods.
We understand that emergency care is never planned for so we do our best to openly communicate with you about the financial aspect of your pet’s medical care. One of our team members will call to communicate the financial aspect of the care recommended by the veterinarian. We can email you a copy of this treatment plan at any time.
We accept cash, personal checks, and all major credit cards. We also offer payment plan options including: CareCredit (medical credit card), Ally (loan program), and Scratch Pay (loan program that is not based on credit). These programs break up the cost of your pet’s medical care over weeks or months depending upon the program selected. Let us know if you have an interest in one of these options anytime.