To say this past year has been a challenge is truly an understatement! Through all the ups and downs this hospital has navigated during the pandemic, the one thing that we have been able to count on are the amazing veterinarians, nurses and support staff that keep our Fear Free delivery of patient care a top priority. For that, we are truly grateful!
Unfortunately, forces out of our control are presenting some immediate obstacles for the hospital. Firstly, over the last few weeks, we have lost over 20% of our employees due to illness, injury, and maternity leave. Thankfully, none of the illnesses have been due to COVID and we are hopeful to see many staff return in the next 6-8 weeks. Secondly, we are faced with a distressing national trend of veterinary staff leaving the industry and an extreme shortage of qualified applicants to hire. Thankfully, FVH does not suffer from poor employee retention, people love working here, but we are not immune to the shortage of a qualified workforce.
What does this all mean for you, our loyal client? First and foremost, the quality of patient care is our top priority, and you will not see any change in the level of medical service provided. To achieve this continuity in patient care, beginning May 1st we will be reassigning our remaining healthy team members to directly assist the veterinarians with outpatient appointments. This will mean a slight reduction in appointment availability, prioritizing of emergency surgeries, and a reduction in phone answering hours from 8a-6p to 9a-5p M-F. You will still be able to leave us a voicemail or reach us through the PetDesk app. Lab work reporting, prescription refills, and follow-up communications from the veterinarian will see some delay and we appreciate your understanding as we move through this difficult time.
We expect this situation to resolve itself by July. That is also the new target month we have set to allow clients back in the building which we very much look forward to.
We do have one way in which you can help us. Like most hospitals nationally, the levels of verbal abuse our staff and management have been receiving has increased markedly. We respectfully ask that you recognize this team is working very hard to see as many patients as possible. The pet population has grown significantly in Whatcom County despite the number of providers and hospitals staying relatively static. We always appreciate constructive feedback to help us improve our patient care and customer service, so please do not hesitate to reach out to the management team. Feedback that is demoralizing, threatening, or simply hateful is not productive and only serves to erode our ability to stay mentally healthy. Thank you for giving us a break and working with us as we strive to provide stellar care.
Michael Bellis, Hospital Administrator
Sarah Miles, Practice Manager