As we’ve shared several times since the pandemic’s start, veterinary medicine has been under enormous strain due to staffing challenges and record-high numbers of pets who need care. From the beginning, we’ve prioritized keeping our hospital open for current and new clients, providing a safe and healthy workplace for our staff, and maintaining same-day urgent and emergency care to support patients and our local ER partners. Accomplishing this has been no small feat, requiring many changes to our workflow and internal processes as we determined what worked… and what didn’t… all while seeing that record number of pets. The pace of change AND workload has taken a toll on all veterinary professionals, causing burnout leading to a staffing shortage across our field.

We will never compromise our medical standards or quality of care, so to better support your pets and our teammates, we’re restructuring our urgent and emergency care process. In addition, this new process compliments the changes Dove Lewis and other ER practices have made to their patient prioritization processes. This change will allow our general practice’s strengths and our ER partners’ strengths to complement each other and maximize the number of patients who can access timely care.

Why the change? Our goal is to help as many pets as we can without compromising safety or burning out our staff, so the answer is twofold; get pets the right care for their medical need and support our team so they can be successful in a workplace that is physically and psychologically safe. We cannot overstate the overwhelming demand, as evidenced by 200+ calls per day and 400+ pets treated every week at Frontier. As much as we wish we could see every pet that needs help, there is a true limit to how many patients we can care for concurrently without compromising safety for both patients and staff. As a responsible employer and community member, we need to care for the people who care for our pets because if we don’t have staff, we can’t help pets!

For preventive care services or non-urgent appointments there is no change; we’ll find the next available appointment, which is at least a few weeks out. The exam costs $68.

For time-sensitive illness, urgent and emergency care, our CSRs will have you describe your pet’s issue clearly, then ask questions designed by our own veterinarians to assess the urgency of your pet’s condition. The CSR will run your answers through an assessment tool created by our Medical Director Dr. Beedle in collaboration with our entire doctor team. This tool will determine how urgently your pet needs to be seen and your best options for getting care. There are 3 Levels of urgency and corresponding care recommendations:

  • Level 1 – These are emergencies that require a true ER ASAP so we will direct you to immediately proceed to a qualified facility. We practice great medicine, but we’re humble and want the best chance for a positive outcome, which is at an ER for specific conditions.
  • Level 2 – These are emergencies that must be seen ASAP, either at Frontier if we are able or at an ER. If Frontier has available medical capacity, we’ll have you to come in immediately. If you’re unable to come in immediately, we’ll direct you to call us back when you can and reassess your options. If we are at medical capacity and unable to take any more emergencies, we will refer you to an ER. The exam costs $200 and your veterinarian will provide a treatment plan and estimate for any additional recommended services.
  • Level 3 – These are urgent conditions that are stable but need to be seen within 24-48 hours. We have select appointments reserved for these cases each day and will schedule you if one of these is available. The exam costs $110.

What if my pet’s condition isn’t urgent but I still want to be seen? We’ll book you for the next available non-urgent illness appointment slot, which are usually a few weeks out. Our appointment book is full of pets who need to be seen and, as explained above, there is a true limit to the number patients we can see and treat safely.

It’s so frustrating that every veterinarian is so busy! What can I do to help? WE HEAR YOU. We love helping pets and are equally frustrated that we can’t clone ourselves and our hospital! The good news is that there are a few things you can do to help us and your fellow pet parents:

DO call right away if you think something’s wrong with your pet. DON’T no-show or cancel your appointment same-day unless you have a true emergency conflict. We’re having more and more no-show appointments, which leaves invaluable appointment slots wasted when we could have seen one of the hundreds of pets that need our help. Please confirm your appointment from your reminder email or text, sent 3 and 2 days in advance respectively, or contact us to cancel at that time. If you no-show more than once, we’ll need to take a deposit for all future appointments to ensure our valuable resources are available to all our patients.

When does this start? The new process will go into effect this Monday, December 13.

While not many folks love change, we’re excited that these changes will create a more positive experience for our patients, clients and staff!

Have questions?

We’re here to help! Don’t hesitate to contact us today!