Goochland 24-hr emergency vet hospital shortens hours due to staffing shortages

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A 24-hour veterinarian hospital is cutting back hours for the first time in history due to staffing shortages and it could leave some pets without a close place to go in an emergency. (Photo: Rachel Keller)

GOOCHLAND COUNTY, Va. (WRIC)– A 24-hour veterinarian hospital is cutting back hours for the first time in history due to staffing shortages and it could leave some pets without a close place to go in an emergency.

Veterinary Referral and Critical Care in Goochland County has been open every second of the day since 1997 until now. The hospital announced that it would be shutting down every week starting at 6 p.m. on Saturday through 8 a.m. on Monday. The change will take effect starting this weekend.

Dr. Edward Fallin, the owner and Chief of Internal Medicine at the clinic, told 8News it’s almost ‘nauseating’ feeling as if you’re letting people down.

“It became very clear that if we didn’t do something soon, we were going to lose some very very important staff,” said Fallin.

Falin said they’re facing a serious staffing shortage, including doctors and support staff. The staff is also trying to keep up with demand and a higher caseload.

“The regular veterinarians are doing their best to see as many patients as they possibly can, but they’re not being able to do it as efficiently because they’re having to go outside,” he said. “They’re having to make exchanges of the animals outside and convey information back and forth across the telephone, so that lack of efficiency builds up a backlog of cases.”

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, appointments increased more than 6% between January and June this year compared to the same time period last year. Fallin said patients are having to be bumped down the line because doctors have to take the animals with the most severe conditions first.

In a Facebook post, the hospital addressed the closure.

For the first time in VRCC history, we will be closed for 36 hours each week. We have appreciated the support of our clients and referral community over the years and are saddened by the additional burden this will bring to them. However, we must do what is necessary to ensure we can continue to provide the standard of care we have for so many years while protecting the well being of our doctors and staff.
Thank you for your understanding and continued support.

Veterinary Referral and Critical Care

“We feel like we’re letting folks down,” Fallin said. “We feel like we’re going to be disappointing folks. It was do this or take serious consequences with our staff, and our staff is our most valuable resource. They are wonderful human beings and they deserve some rest.”

According to Fallin, the staff is getting worn out and fatigued, and mothers of newborns are working 60 hours.

According to AVMA, when the COVID pandemic hit, average productivity declined almost 25% last year.

“Our ICU is designed to be used 24/7 just like a human hospital,” Fallin said. “I just cannot fathom the idea of us not getting back to normal as soon as possible.”

The change will stay until more personnel is hired.

In the meantime here are other 24-Hour Emergency Hospitals in Virginia:

  • Virginia Veterinary Centers, Richmond, VA
  • BluePearl Pet Hospital, Richmond, VA
  • MedVet Northern Virginia, Manassas, VA
  • Greenbrier Emergency Animal Hospital, Charlottesville, VA
  • Bay Beach Veterinary Emergency Hospital, Virginia Beach, VA
  • Animal Emergency & Critical Care of Lynchburg, Lynchburg, VA
  • Animal Emergency Center, Yorktown, VA
  • VCA Animal Emergency Critical Care, Leesburg, VA
  • Valley Veterinary Emergency & Referral Center, Winchester, VA

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