I want to personally thank all of you for your patience with us during this time. We make every effort to be here for each and every client and patient in our community. Despite our best efforts, due to high demand, we are having a difficult time accommodating every client in the same way we have previously always been able to do so. This deeply saddens us as we truly love what we do and want to help all of our furry friends when they are in need. However, this shift is not exclusive to East Padden: There has been a massive increase in demand for veterinary care across the entire country over the last two months as pet parents spend more time with their animals, and adoption rates have skyrocketed. Hospitals are also navigating loss of staff due to the COVID-19 crisis, and we are no exception.
We are still here for you and your pets, but I also feel it is time for some transparency. At East Padden, we consider our clients and patients family, and families work through tough times together. As pet parents and animal advocates ourselves, we understand the frustration and stress that comes with being unable to see your regular veterinarian, experiencing longer wait times than usual, or perhaps even experiencing mistakes. But please know that as partners in your pet’s care, we are working tirelessly to navigate uncharted territory with our best foot forward — even if, at times, it may not seem that way from the outside looking in.
The reality is that our team is currently working seven days a week for 12+ hours each one of those days. We are scheduling at least four to five of our eight doctors every day, but with unprecedented demand, even this — along with the support of over 60 staff members — is just not enough to meet said demand. We are actively in search of two more associate veterinarians to hire, as well as additional support staff. But, so are most other hospitals, and only a lucky handful have succeeded.
Simply put, demand for doctors and support staff is at an all-time high, and qualified candidates are scarce. Even with our wonderful doctors and team putting in long hours and extra shifts, demand is still outpacing what we can do. Other local hospitals around us, including 24-hour emergency and specialty clinics, are also overwhelmed with demand and are either shutting down as a result or reaching unprecedented wait times of 18 hours or more with no appointment availability for months; far longer than we are experiencing at East Padden, where appointments are generally available within 1-2 days and wait times for non-scheduled visits are generally less than 2 hours.
But none of this helps you if you need us and we can’t be there for you on your timeframe and schedule, and for that we are truly sorry. We are currently able to accommodate every patient that needs to be seen the same day, as long as you — the client — remain understanding if there is a wait time to be seen or your pet needs to be dropped off with us for the day. Please know that we are working hard to try to keep up with demand and streamline our procedures and staff training so that we can be here when you need us and continue to provide the level of customer service you have come to expect and deserve.
As I said, we are working on finding and hiring exceptional new staff and doctors. Additionally, we have made and will continue to make changes in an effort to improve your experience during this difficult time:
We are truly doing everything we can to make this challenging time easier on our clients, patients and staff. It is a daily battle, and most of us end up going home at the end of each day feeling like we failed someone despite working so hard to help every person and pet we can. It is not a good feeling, and not something any of us at East Padden are used to feeling!
I share this not for sympathy or to excuse our shortcomings, but to offer some transparency and insight into what we are experiencing, and to stress that we will continue to fight to do all that we can for you and your pets during this time.
Some of you have asked how you can help.
I know everyone is tense and tired these days, but I’d like to ask for your patience and kindness when dealing with our staff, who are considered essential workers at this time. It is hard enough on morale to feel that we’re letting down our family of loyal clients and patients, but it’s even harder to see a staff member go home in tears after being treated unkindly when they couldn’t accommodate an urgent visit or a wellness exam on a particular client’s preferred timeframe. As I said before, families work through tough times together, and right now, extending a little extra kindness, empathy and compassion is one way you can make a significant difference for our hard-working and dedicated team.
We are so very grateful for each and every one of you and appreciate your patience more than you know. Thank you so much to those of you who have supported our staff with love and compassion, and as always, thank you for trusting us with your pet’s care. We’re all in this together.
All my best,
Tracy Thompson, DVM, Practice Owner