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Labor shortage continues to impact animal clinics

Before the pandemic, Oberman estimated the Animal Emergency Center of the Quad Cities saw about 50 patients per weekend. Now, the center sees almost 100.
Published: Mar. 24, 2022 at 6:15 PM CDT
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BETTENDORF, Iowa (KWQC) - If you’ve taken your pet to the vet recently, you may have had to wait longer to be seen. Staffing shortages that started with the pandemic are still happening everywhere.

Kathie Oberman, a hospital administrator at the Animal Emergency Center in the Quad Cities, said the vet shortage was exacerbated when the pandemic began. Staffing shortages at animal clinics have led to frustrated pet owners and also added stress to veterinarians, even after their workday is over.

“The last two years have been by far the most stressful for all staff involved,” Oberman said. “The amount of turnover has probably been higher in the last two years than the last 10 years combined.”

The Animal Emergency Center of the Quad Cities continues to face staff shortages due to the covid-19 pandemic. Currently, there are 24 full-time staff members, including just three veterinarians.

“Ideally, if we could have 30 to 32 full-time staff members, we would be doing better. We should have five full-time veterinarians,” Oberman said.

Before the pandemic, Oberman estimated the Animal Emergency Center of the Quad Cities saw about 50 patients per weekend. Now, the center sees almost 100.

“The big thing we try to convey to our clients and the patient owners is we do our caseloads based on triage. We assess every patient that comes in, either verbally or visually. If a patient comes in having difficulty breathing or actively having a seizure, they are going to be assessed as a priority, but we still actively see as many cases as we can,” said Dana Hitzhusen, an associate veterinarian at the Animal Emergency Center of the Quad Cities.

According to an organization called Not One More Vet, one in six veterinarians considered suicide at some point in their career before the pandemic. That number has gone up.

“More than anything, have patience with our staff. What we try to do is assess every pet that comes through our door and then decide who needs to be seen first,” Oberman said. “In cases where your pet is stable, you may not be seen first, so we just ask for your patience. We are doing the best that we can.”

Oberman said the Animal Emergency Center of the Quad Cities increased wages by almost 25% in the last 18 months to attract more workers.

The Animal Emergency Center of the Quad Cities is offering on-the-job training. To learn more about the open positions and how to apply, click or tap here.

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