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Veterinary clinics see backlogs and staffing shortages

Updated: May. 25, 2021 at 8:30 AM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - If you’re looking to get your animal checked out by a local veterinarian, you may have to wait. Many offices say they are dealing with a pandemic backlog as well as staffing issues.

“Things have just spiked tremendously, it has been very busy,” said Whitney Durivage, the hospital administrator at Burlington Emergency and Veterinarian Specialists in Williston.

Like most places, BEVS says they’ve adjusted to COVID-19, but now Durivage says no matter how efficient they are, it’s busy.

“People were home with their pets a lot more, adoptions went way up and you’re just around with your pet more, you’re outside, you’re spending more time doing things so there is more opportunity to have an accident,” said Durivage.

BEVS is a hospital and specialist center, so they take the most in-need pets first, but the surge is nationwide. Another problem they have run into is staffing.

“We definitely have struggled with staffing, just in terms of schools being closed, people having to be home with their kids, illnesses, exposures,” said Durivage.

And while they were able to adjust to online formats and some aspects of telehealth, they still need hands.

“Everyone I have talked to is desperately asking for more help and to graduate people as fast as possible,” said Dr. Stephanie Dorosko with Vermont Technical College.

Dorosko says as much as she wants to help, her students at Vermont Technical College can’t have a compromised education.

“They have to perform approximately 300 hands-on or knowledge-based skills before they graduate,” she said.

Couple that with knowledge of multiple species and maintaining a high GPA.

The school is also bound to a strict student-to-faculty ratio, so they can only turn out 36 technicians a year. But Dorosko says when they do hit the front lines, they will be ready.

“Less in-person contact has made the younger generation understand that oral communication is incredibly critical,” she said.

And while VTC and other schools prepare more hands to get on deck, they are asking for patience as we work through the backlog.

“We can only see as many patients as we can see while still maintaining time for inpatients while still dedicating enough time for each patient,” said Durivage.

We reached out to multiple veterinary offices, many of which wanted to do an interview but said they are just too busy. That’s something Dorosko says she is hearing from all over the state.

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