Goochland 24/7 veterinary hospital closes doors for first time in almost 25 years
GOOCHLAND, Va. (WWBT) - For almost 25 years the Veterinary Referral and Critical Care Hospital in Goochland has kept its doors unlocked and opened for those in need every single day.
Through snowstorms, Hurricane Isabel, and even on Christmas day, the staff has shown up ready to work and help the community.
But on Sunday the doors were locked, the lights were turned off, and for the first time, the cages in the hospital sat empty with no pets.
“It’s totally vacant right now which is a very weird kinda eerie feeling,” Edward Fallin, head of internal medicine, said. “There’s no pumps, no beeping, no animals, and no people.”
Fallin says over the last year his ICU has seen an increase in the number of patients after many veterinarian offices closed during the pandemic and decided to not reopen.
After losing more than 20 staff members and an increase in workflow Fallin said the hospital made the decision to close for 36 hours each week.
“It basically snowballed as time went on we had to see more and more cases staff started shrinking because most of the people who work here are parents and they had kids that weren’t in school and they had to stop,” Fallin said.
With hopes of not losing any more employees, the hospital changed its operating time from 24/7 to closing on Saturdays at 6 p.m. and not reopening until 8 a.m. on Mondays.
Now, staff must be cautious with how many patients they take in toward the end of the week because they cannot close on Saturday with an animal inside the building.
“This is not a boarding facility so those animals need care around the clock and that cannot be done without someone not being here,” Fallin said.
Fallin said staff has to look at other area hospitals that can take patients in which creates even more of an avalanche because it means other clinics are receiving an influx of patients.
He says he hopes this does not last long and is looking to hire more staff but it’s hard to come by. Fallin asks if you do have to take your pet to an emergency clinic to call ahead of time and make sure they have enough staff for you to come in.
“We were [in the same situation] receiving cases from multiple other animal hospitals as far as Virginia Beach, Fredricksburg, Raleigh, the Nags Head area, and Charlottesville,” Fallin said. “They were sending them here and that’s why I’m really really concerned and my staff is really concerned because if we’re not meeting that need who is?”
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