The CBC recently shed some light on the state of affairs in veterinary medicine today.
We are nearly a year into curbside medicine, but I’m not sure we are used to it yet. That is not to say that we have not become efficient at it — we have found the right balance of tech that works for our practice — but, we are still missing the connection with our clients on which we thrive.
This is a short-term problem. It will come back — that sense of community — the smiling faces and the care we have for each other will all ring true when we are able to share the same space again.
What may turn into a more long-term problem is the persistent backlog that vet med is seeing right now. While this is true for general practitioners like myself (as pointed out by the CBC) the more serious concern is the continued and prolonged wait times at emergency hospitals and specialist facilities.
It comes as a surprise to many of my clients, but if you are a pet owner it is important to know that there are veterinary specialists in nearly every field that there is in human medicine. There are veterinary dentists, ophthalmologists, radiologists, neurologists, oncologists, cardiologists, and many more.
The specialist, general practitioner and pet owner all work together to create the best treatment plan for the patient. We rely on this relationship, and their expertise to ensure the best care for our patients.
We have been more limited in our ability to refer patients lately. Non-urgent cases have had to wait — and wait for months — to get appointments. Others have been referred through emergency in the hopes they may get to see the specialist they really need.
Pre-COVID I was often baffled by the backlog seen in human medicine. It can take weeks to get lab results, months to get advanced diagnostics. We were used to next-day lab results, and a very quick shoo-in — often right across the border in Michigan — to see the specialist. (For more on the differences between human and vet med in Ontario, see Lucky Dog by Dr. Sarah Boston)
How things have changed over the last year!
Never have I had a greater appreciation for our specialists, than during COVID. We have been able to do more telemedicine and consult via email, as they are often not able to accept new clients. Ultimately, we are adjusting to the new normal, but only time will tell how this will shape not only general practice, but the referral process too.