Animal ER wait times hit record high

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DoveLewis Emergency Animal Hospital CEO said wait times are at historic highs due to understaffing.

PORTLAND, Oregon – It’s a common complaint for pet owners in the Portland metro area these days: long wait times in pet emergency rooms.

Ron Morgan, CEO of DoveLewis Emergency Animal Hospital, said wait times are at historic highs due to a staff shortage. Morgan said before the pandemic wait times were around 45 minutes, but now pet owners and their pets can wait up to a week for non-life threatening injuries .

“There have been so many changes in veterinary medicine that have prevented people from seeing their regular vet or they’ve adopted pets and can’t see their regular doctor,” Morgan said.

RELATED: Vets Are Late After Millions of Pets Adopted During Pandemic

Morgan said DoveLewis would like to reduce wait times, but they need more staff to make that happen. He said there was a shortage of vets before the pandemic, now the hospital is in survival mode.

“We’re going to sort out every pet that comes in and put them in a case severity level,” Morgan said. “Those who need immediate care will get immediate care. Those who are really stable or those who can wait several days, we will put them on a waiting list.”

Morgan said recruiting is their top priority, but it’s also harder to get people to move from country to country during a pandemic.

“At one point, about a month ago, we had over 50 vacancies at DoveLewis and it was really tough to fill those vacancies, from customer service reps to technicians and doctors,” Morgan said.

Morgan encourages owners to let DoveLewis know about their pet’s condition and asks for empathy and patience for the current situation.

Pet owner Steve Roberts understands everything vets face and thinks they’re doing the best they can.

“I took my cat last Saturday and he had a fatal illness, they were able to come in and see him really quickly which was fantastic,” said Roberts.

Morgan said keeping up with demand will continue to be a challenge for DoveLewis. The demand for veterinary care is greater than the number of veterinarians leaving school.

“We increased our patient volume by 20% last year. Some months we’re 30% and some months are 40% higher in patient volume than last year, ”Morgan said.

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