We believe in transparency within our team and with our clients, so we’re sharing this message with you as part of the Frontier family. Frontier is a big, busy hospital and we’re accustomed to working at a fast pace and triaging emergencies on top of an already full appointment schedule, but the past four months represent the most challenging time this hospital has ever been through.
First off, we want to sincerely thank all our wonderful clients who have been patient, supportive and understanding during what is the most difficult time in many of our team members’ professional and personal lives. We know the same is true for you and your offer of kind words, survey responses, donations of homemade cloth masks, and emails have not gone unnoticed. On days where things are chaotic and our hard work feels unrecognized, these kindnesses remind us of why we chose to work in veterinary medicine.
Secondly, to those of you who are frustrated by the curbside experience, we hear you, and we understand. Providing veterinary care curbside is inefficient, labor-intensive, and stressful for us humans (though fortunately it is often a very positive experience for pets). Our staff are human and outside this building are experiencing the same frustrations and fears as you in their “regular” lives, and we understand how emotions can escalate quickly under stressful conditions. What we ask is that you recognize these circumstances are beyond any of our control and practice kindness to our staff.
To put all of this in perspective, some background. Many colleagues in vet med are experiencing devastating staff impacts from COVID-19, and we’re closely monitoring industry best practices to reduce risk. Based on this, we’ve decided that maintaining curbside service, among other internal sanitation and hygiene practices, is the most effective way to help prevent Frontier from having to shorten hours, or worse yet, close due to sick team members. With the pandemic far from over, we will continue to operate curbside for the foreseeable future because the thought of putting our team members and clients at risk or being unable to care for our patients is unimaginable.
Our commitment to being open regular hours and not turning urgent cases away has resulted in a considerable increase in demand for our services and we are honored that so many pet owners trust us to care for their pets. However, this demand has caused our phones and appointment book to be dramatically busier than any time in our 73-year history. All while curbside, where the steps it takes our team to complete a routine appointment has doubled in many cases. Because we will never compromise patient safety or medical standards, there is a true limit to how many treatments we can complete in a day, and therefore we must prioritize the most urgent cases in busy times.
We’re actively hiring additional team members to meet this heightened demand and workload. This is very challenging because there is a national shortage of experienced veterinary staff in all job descriptions (so if you know an experienced vet med person looking for a great new job, send them our way, STAT!). We are fortunate to have hired 2 wonderful veterinarians who are joining our team this month and continue to recruit CVTs, Technician Assistants, and Client Service Representatives. We’re also actively working on technology solutions to streamline workflow and communications.
Many of you choose Frontier because we are locally owned and family operated. There are real people behind our face masks, charged with being essential workers for our local community. Sometimes that means making unpopular decisions and enforcing policies that may be inconvenient or frustrating, but are ultimately the right thing to do in order to keep our patients, clients and staff safe.
Well before COVID, the veterinary field has been suffering from another alarming health crisis; a mental health crisis. We encourage you to read the linked article and research from the CDC about this well-documented challenge facing our veterinarians and staff. Frontier takes mental health seriously and our team has been actively working on ways to support our staff’s mental and physical health. One tool we use is pictured; it is our Cultural Bill of Rights. Everyone that works at Frontier commits to being both the recipient and provider of these Rights while working together. As our clients, we consider you as members of our team and expect each staff member to offer these Rights to you. We ask you to join us in reciprocating these Rights back to us, knowing that we’re all human and make mistakes, but kindness and compassion are worth the effort.
Thank you for your trust and the privilege of caring for your family members.