Pet clinics

Okanagan veterinary hospitals grapple with staffing shortages amid Omicron surge

The rising tide of the Omicron variant has resulted in staffing shortages at Okanagan veterinary hospitals, with many struggling to keep up with demand.

“We’re getting to the point where we’re trying to bring in doctors and support staff from other clinics to help us keep the doors open 24 hours a day,” said Dr. Jennifer Watt, chief medical officer at Fairfield Animal Hospital. , the largest and only 24-hour veterinary clinic in the region.

Pet owners should be prepared for longer wait times, Watt said, but staff are doing their best.

“Our doors are always open. We work on a triage system, so sometimes there is a bit of a wait. If you have to wait, that’s fine because it means your pet isn’t as sick as the others.

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Other clinics in the Okanagan do not have the capacity to move staff to fill the gaps.

“We’ve probably been shorted by 25% of our staff week after week from late December through early January,” said Dr. Moshe Oz of Rose Valley Veterinary Hospital.

“Unfortunately we don’t have any additional hospitals that we can pull staff and doctors from, so it really depends on 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 has also been strained.

“The other thing we have to deal with is stress-related leave. A lot of our doctors are finding it really hard to work those shifts and have a life,” Watt said.

Oz added: “We always try to balance saying yes [to clients while managing] staff well-being and not cause burnout.

The main thing for pet owners is to be patient, say the two doctors.

“The staff do their best because [they] can save lives and keep animals healthy,” Watt said.

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