As you’ve heard from us and likely experienced over the last 18 months, the pandemic has put enormous strain on veterinary care providers. This happened for a variety of complex and intertwined reasons, but at its core can be simplified to:
More pets – Folks looking for quarantine companionship increased pet adoptions and the acquisition of puppies and kittens; we saw DOUBLE the puppies and kittens in 2020 than in any prior year. But an even bigger factor is people working from home observing their pets more closely and seeking care for things they otherwise may not have noticed with a busy office or social schedule.
Fewer veterinary staff – The veterinary industry has a nationwide shortage of veterinarians and skilled nursing staff that predates the pandemic. This existing shortage, paired with an estimated 20-50% increase in demand for our services during the pandemic, has strained an already short-staffed system to its very limit. Add the stress of working under this strain, and you have skilled professionals burning out and leaving veterinary medicine. Unfortunately, there are no quick fixes for these shortages, as it takes 8+ years of college and post-graduate study to become a veterinarian, and 2+ years to become a certified veterinary technician. We have been actively hiring since before the pandemic, however, there just are not enough qualified professionals to fill all the open positions in the Portland area, or nationwide.
OPB recently ran two enlightening stories on this crisis, with insight from local leaders in the field:
- Desperate times for Northwest pet owners and vets as clinics, hospitals are overwhelmed
- Oregon veterinarians struggle through the pandemic
We know how frustrating it is to experience appointment booking delays and extended wait times. We hear and feel this every single day, as we try to safely treat our patients, as well as many sick and injured pets, turned away from their primary veterinarians who are overwhelmed, or from ERs on hours-long waits who can only intake the most critical pets. We’re doing our very best to treat as many sick and injured patients as possible, which means we must triage and prioritize cases, and when we reach medical capacity, we will refer critical pets and emergencies to an ER facility. When we are at medical capacity, this means we’ve reached the maximum number of pets we can safely evaluate, monitor, and treat with the staff on hand.
Every person who works at Frontier is here because we truly love and care for pets. We ask that you understand we are working hard through this crisis for the love of pets, and to preserve that incredibly important bond between pets and their people.