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New emergency arrangement for pet patients


Most veterinarians in metro St. John’s have discontinued their after-hours emergency on-call services after agreeing a specialty clinic would handle those duties.

Dr. Trina Bailey, a veterinary surgeon, operates the Veterinary Specialty Centre of Newfoundland and Labrador — located at 860 Topsail Rd. in Mount Pearl — where clients whose pets have an emergency now go if their own vet clinic is closed.

“We already were a 24-hour facility anyway,” said Bailey, who approached the veterinarians about the service. All but one agreed.

“A lot of my cases involved needing people overnight and it just made sense for us to start providing emergency service as well,” she said.

Emergency hours at the specialty facility run from Monday to Thursday 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. and through the weekend from Friday at 5 p.m. until 8 a.m. Monday. (Clients may want to check with their vets, as some have evening and weekend hours.)

On staff at Bailey’s clinic are six other veterinary doctors — a board-certified radiologist, two surgical interns and three emergency doctors. Similar to the difference between a family doctor and a specialist in human medicine, veterinary specialists do residencies — additional years of training in their specific area of expertise.

The clinic, which opened in July 2015 and provides speciality services to pet patients across the province, is also expanding its space from 2,000 square feet to 6,500 square feet.

A CT scanner is on order, the first on the island for animals. The clinic is also adding minimal invasive equipment, such as an endoscopy and laparoscopy.

The clinic will have all the equipment that is available at the University of Prince Edward Island veterinary school, Bailey said. The goal is to add an internal medicine specialist — that service will soon be available from a locum.

The reception from pet owners to the emergency arrangement has been mostly good, said Bailey.

“We have gotten people who call concerned they didn’t realize what was happening. They’ve dealt with one clinic for 30 years,” Bailey said.

“The overwhelming majority of people are very happy once they realize.”

Some clients have noted that, through no one’s fault, previously it was an hour before someone got back to them after they left a message with their vet’s call-in service, Bailey said.

Regular veterinary appointments remain the domain of the various vet clinics in the city that agreed to the plan, as Bailey’s clinic handles speciality and emergency services.

“We will never be a general practice. … It’s not our goal,” said Bailey.

Any pet owner whose Fido or Fluffy has an emergency after hours can drop in at the Topsail Road facility without calling their own vet clinic. They can also call the speciality clinic beforehand if they have a question regarding whether it’s in fact an emergency.

Some fees and overnight rates are cheaper than what people would have paid their own clinic because staff are already on hand at the speciality hospital, Bailey noted.

She said vets who’ve agreed to refer their clients to the service are thrilled.

Among them is Dr. Colleen Simms, an owner of the St. John’s Veterinary Hospital and Woodpath Cat and Dog Hospital with Dr. Jens Martin.

Simms has been practising in St. John’s for about 25 years and during that time, shared on-call emergency duties.

“Three hundred and sixty-five days a year, one of us was on call 24 hours,” she noted.

Not only would they come in for emergencies for the clinic’s own clients, they would respond to emergencies when someone didn’t have a regular vet.

In January, St. John’s Veterinary, which has three vets, began referring Friday to Sunday after-hours emergency calls to Bailey’s clinic.

As of Oct. 3, St. John’s veterinary moved to referring the emergency service seven days a week, after evening appointments end around 8 on weekdays and when the office closes Saturday afternoons.

“After 25 years doing emergency work, to be very honest, I’m not sad to see it go. … It’s beautiful to have a weekend off,” said Simms, who added she learned an incredible amount while doing emergency work.

But she noted the importance of work-life balance and having time for family.

Clients have had questions.

“People in general don’t like change or surprise,” said Simms, who with her colleagues has been spreading the word.

They still provide some overnight care and “are still here 100 per cent for our clients,” Simms said.

She noted Halifax has had a speciality clinic for the past 15 years and St. John’s is one of the last cities in North America to get a veterinary emergency clinic.

She said Bailey’s clinic offers topnotch emergency and speciality care, and veterinarians such as herself are proud such services are available to pet patients across the province. 

“I can’t say enough about Dr. Bailey and her team,” Simms said.

She said any patients who go to the speciality clinic would have a detailed report sent to their regular veterinarian for followup care.

Before the speciality clinic opened, veterinarians in Newfoundland had to be a jack-of-all-trades, Simms said.

Dr. Erin Wilson is with the one city-area partnership that has retained its on-call, after-hours emergency service.

With several veterinarians at the Torbay Road Animal Hospital and the affiliated Sunrise Animal Hospital in Mount Pearl, Wilson said they are willing to retain the services for their clients.

“I could see how it could be taxing,” she said of others’ decision.

“We had lots of requests (from clients) when they heard this was happening that they really wanted to keep it as is. We have their records on file. … They seem to like that we’re happy to provide it. Right now we are happy the way it is. “

But, describing Bailey as “an awesome surgeon,” Wilson said the decision has nothing to do with the quality of care at the speciality clinic, and she and her colleagues use some of Bailey’s services, such as the board-certified radiologist, and the added services are welcome in the province.

Dr. Trina Bailey, a veterinary surgeon, operates the Veterinary Specialty Centre of Newfoundland and Labrador — located at 860 Topsail Rd. in Mount Pearl — where clients whose pets have an emergency now go if their own vet clinic is closed.

“We already were a 24-hour facility anyway,” said Bailey, who approached the veterinarians about the service. All but one agreed.

“A lot of my cases involved needing people overnight and it just made sense for us to start providing emergency service as well,” she said.

Emergency hours at the specialty facility run from Monday to Thursday 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. and through the weekend from Friday at 5 p.m. until 8 a.m. Monday. (Clients may want to check with their vets, as some have evening and weekend hours.)

On staff at Bailey’s clinic are six other veterinary doctors — a board-certified radiologist, two surgical interns and three emergency doctors. Similar to the difference between a family doctor and a specialist in human medicine, veterinary specialists do residencies — additional years of training in their specific area of expertise.

The clinic, which opened in July 2015 and provides speciality services to pet patients across the province, is also expanding its space from 2,000 square feet to 6,500 square feet.

A CT scanner is on order, the first on the island for animals. The clinic is also adding minimal invasive equipment, such as an endoscopy and laparoscopy.

The clinic will have all the equipment that is available at the University of Prince Edward Island veterinary school, Bailey said. The goal is to add an internal medicine specialist — that service will soon be available from a locum.

The reception from pet owners to the emergency arrangement has been mostly good, said Bailey.

“We have gotten people who call concerned they didn’t realize what was happening. They’ve dealt with one clinic for 30 years,” Bailey said.

“The overwhelming majority of people are very happy once they realize.”

Some clients have noted that, through no one’s fault, previously it was an hour before someone got back to them after they left a message with their vet’s call-in service, Bailey said.

Regular veterinary appointments remain the domain of the various vet clinics in the city that agreed to the plan, as Bailey’s clinic handles speciality and emergency services.

“We will never be a general practice. … It’s not our goal,” said Bailey.

Any pet owner whose Fido or Fluffy has an emergency after hours can drop in at the Topsail Road facility without calling their own vet clinic. They can also call the speciality clinic beforehand if they have a question regarding whether it’s in fact an emergency.

Some fees and overnight rates are cheaper than what people would have paid their own clinic because staff are already on hand at the speciality hospital, Bailey noted.

She said vets who’ve agreed to refer their clients to the service are thrilled.

Among them is Dr. Colleen Simms, an owner of the St. John’s Veterinary Hospital and Woodpath Cat and Dog Hospital with Dr. Jens Martin.

Simms has been practising in St. John’s for about 25 years and during that time, shared on-call emergency duties.

“Three hundred and sixty-five days a year, one of us was on call 24 hours,” she noted.

Not only would they come in for emergencies for the clinic’s own clients, they would respond to emergencies when someone didn’t have a regular vet.

In January, St. John’s Veterinary, which has three vets, began referring Friday to Sunday after-hours emergency calls to Bailey’s clinic.

As of Oct. 3, St. John’s veterinary moved to referring the emergency service seven days a week, after evening appointments end around 8 on weekdays and when the office closes Saturday afternoons.

“After 25 years doing emergency work, to be very honest, I’m not sad to see it go. … It’s beautiful to have a weekend off,” said Simms, who added she learned an incredible amount while doing emergency work.

But she noted the importance of work-life balance and having time for family.

Clients have had questions.

“People in general don’t like change or surprise,” said Simms, who with her colleagues has been spreading the word.

They still provide some overnight care and “are still here 100 per cent for our clients,” Simms said.

She noted Halifax has had a speciality clinic for the past 15 years and St. John’s is one of the last cities in North America to get a veterinary emergency clinic.

She said Bailey’s clinic offers topnotch emergency and speciality care, and veterinarians such as herself are proud such services are available to pet patients across the province. 

“I can’t say enough about Dr. Bailey and her team,” Simms said.

She said any patients who go to the speciality clinic would have a detailed report sent to their regular veterinarian for followup care.

Before the speciality clinic opened, veterinarians in Newfoundland had to be a jack-of-all-trades, Simms said.

Dr. Erin Wilson is with the one city-area partnership that has retained its on-call, after-hours emergency service.

With several veterinarians at the Torbay Road Animal Hospital and the affiliated Sunrise Animal Hospital in Mount Pearl, Wilson said they are willing to retain the services for their clients.

“I could see how it could be taxing,” she said of others’ decision.

“We had lots of requests (from clients) when they heard this was happening that they really wanted to keep it as is. We have their records on file. … They seem to like that we’re happy to provide it. Right now we are happy the way it is. “

But, describing Bailey as “an awesome surgeon,” Wilson said the decision has nothing to do with the quality of care at the speciality clinic, and she and her colleagues use some of Bailey’s services, such as the board-certified radiologist, and the added services are welcome in the province.

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