Animal Emergency Center of the Quad Cities cutting days due to staffing shortages

Published: Aug. 11, 2022 at 11:33 PM CDT
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BETTENDORF, Iowa (KWQC) - The Quad Cities’ only emergency animal hospital announced over the weekend it will be closed for two days during the week starting Aug. 16.

In a Facebook post on Sunday, The Animal Emergency Center of the QC cited low staff as the reason it will no longer offer services on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Executive Director and President of AEC, Dr. Daniel Drahos said they need five doctors to be considered fully staffed. Currently, the hospital only has three on its roster. In addition, technicians and other support staff like receptionists have left to go on maternity leave, go back to school or just move out of the area.

Nationwide the industry already had problems recruiting before the pandemic, leaving it to play catch up almost three years later.

“Just bad luck versus the times,” Drahos said. “We’ve not been able to fill those positions with the techs ... We decided we needed to make that decision.”

In addition to operating his private practice, Riverside Animal Hospital in Muscatine, Drahos also serves as the director of the Veterinary Technician program at Muscatine Community College. He mentioned that the veterinary professional shortage starts from the very beginning of the process.

“Some of the prerequisites which we required, it’s tough to get those prerequisites taken care of when it’s been the COVID era,” Drahos said. “Secondly, we have had a difficult time recruiting the last two, three years because we couldn’t go to high schools, we could go into the colleges.”

The decision on which days to close comes as some staff work at other clinics in the daytime during the week. Drahos said closing consistently instead of randomly concentrates AEC’s resources on the days they typically need them the most. It also allows for other surrounding emergency rooms to prepare for increased demand.

“If we get enough help on the weekends, that may free up our full staff [so] maybe we can start getting back open on those Tuesdays and Wednesdays, which is what we seriously hope,” Drahos said.

Meanwhile closing on consecutive days helps staff avoid feeling burnt out or becoming compassion fatigued.

“We have staff here who have not had a vacation in over two years,” Drahos said. “Some that worked six days a week, very rarely do any of our staff get two days off.”

The center recommends that If something does happen to a pet overnight, limping, itching or vomiting don’t necessarily warrant a visit to the ER. Instead, pet owners should call their regular vet first thing in the morning if the problem continues.

While Drahos advised against turning to the internet, if a pet owner does, they should make sure to check reputable sources like a veterinary university’s or hospital’s website.

“If they’re in pain, just let them rest. they’re not going to die from pain,” Drahos said. “We sure hate to see that happen overnight, but just keep calm, don’t use human medicines.”

He added the best way to avoid ER trips is to make sure pets stay up to date on their checkups and vaccines, preventing emergencies before they happen.

According to Sunday’s post, the next closest animal emergency hospital is Blue Pearl Pet Hospital in Cedar Rapids.

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