As the new year approaches and we welcome in 2022, we’d like to start off by telling you that we are beyond thankful to all who have sent us emails, survey responses, thank you notes, and little gifts or treats not only through the holiday season but also for the last…how many months is it now? 21-ish? These expressions of gratitude and praise make our day. As for so many, we have been struggling too. The ACOC Team is made up of some of the most dedicated and hard-working individuals I’ve ever met. They show up because they care about you and your beloved pets. Sometimes, they wear themselves out because they’ll sacrifice their own well-being for the sake of not abandoning their patients, clients, or their team. Our hearts and minds are filled with every adorable new patient, every cherished elderly companion, every successful treatment, every exhausting case, every interaction, every word. We even carry these thoughts home with us. Your pet is not just a number. Their health is our priority. We have dedicated our lives to the welfare of those who cannot speak for themselves, so know that the little (and big) gestures really make a difference!
The other purpose of this letter is to provide some insight into what is happening behind the walls of ACOC (make sure to look at the behind-the-scene pictures too) – which is not all that different from what is happening in veterinary hospitals everywhere – some of you are already aware and some of you may be surprised to learn?
Our patient volume has greatly increased. We get calls all day long from people that need us because their regular vet can’t see them, has shut down, or retired. This means more pets for us to try to work into our already busy schedule. There is a statistic that around 11 million people became pet owners during the pandemic! That is a lot of pets that need our care. Additionally, changes to workflow and safety precautions have resulted in longer-than-normal appointment times. General practice facilities are not the only ones; emergency clinics and veterinary teaching hospitals (OSU) are experiencing an overwhelming number of patients and wait times are longer than ever.
Across America, our profession is also losing credentialed individuals (DVMs and Veterinary Nurses) daily due to stress and burnout. Some take other jobs, some are done for good, and sadly some have taken their own lives (did you know that one in six veterinary professionals considers suicide?) Our practice, despite taking measures to help with this stress and burnout, has also lost good people. Like any other hospital, we can’t replace a doctor or nurse with just anyone. These positions require schooling, training, and state board licensing. Non-credentialed people are also hard to find. The veterinary profession is a unique one where our customer service representatives are not just answering phones and scheduling appointments, but also triaging care, providing guidance, and sometimes even grief support. Our animal care attendants are not just feeding, watering, and walking pets. They are monitoring pets for problems, assisting the doctors and nurses with medical processes, and making certain your pet gets all the things he or she needs during his or her stay with us.
And this brings us around to asking you for some help:
Please be patient with us. We don’t like running behind, saying no, or delaying care. We are here because we care and want to help! If our hospital reaches capacity, we can assure you, it is not us trying to “turn away” your pet because we “don’t care”. It is our doctors making a conscious decision to properly and safely treat the patients that are currently under our care. As much as we want to say “yes” to every case, at some point we would no longer be practicing good medicine. Remember when you call in, there is another human on the other side of the phone, and we are doing our very best to accommodate and navigate these challenges.
A few more suggestions: • Allow ample time for refills on medications and other requests. • Schedule non-emergency appointments and procedures well in advance (4-6 months!). • Complete the pre-visit forms we send or bring a letter with pertinent information you’d like to convey to the medical team. • Stay up to date by following our Facebook page, checking our website, and downloading our app. • Please do continue sending well wishes, thanks, and treats 😊 Consider utilizing the gratitude request card below. As we’ve already said, this makes a world of difference, especially when times are tough.
All the best for a happy, healthy new year! Drs. Wendy and Tom Frankmann