First and foremost, we would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to our loyal clients for showing patience and kindness in what has proven to be a very difficult year. Part of our mission at Creston Veterinary Hospital (CVH) is to meet the needs of our community for veterinary services. Many adjustments have been made over the months to cover COVID protocols, and we have introduced many innovations to mitigate problems and maintain efficiency. Home delivery, a new call direction system, and a dedicated Reception Assistant to manage the outdoor waiting area have all been helpful. Additionally, we will be adding an online VetStore to our arsenal shortly. Saturday closures were also instituted during the lockdown to rest our overtaxed staff, and we will continue to honour this schedule until further notice.

Creston Veterinary Hospital has seen considerable growth over the last 5-years. Before the COVID–19 Pandemic, we were actively seeking veterinarians to meet our workload and continued expansion. We identified that the equivalent of 4 full-time veterinarians was required to support these goals. We had 2 ½. Of those, only two vets were able to cover out-of-hours emergencies. During the lockdown, we were able to cope and even help clients of other veterinary clinics that were closed or unavailable. In March, the US-Canada border closed and in June, the large animal practice in Nelson closed. These events have put even more pressure on our already overtaxed practice.

During the summer, we were able to secure a locum (fill in vet), Dr Wendy Royle, who was able to see small animals and cover small animal emergencies, so that removed some strain. However, the temporary nature of locum vets means that she has moved on for the fall and winter. Now, with Dr Julie Gailius moving to a new opportunity, that leaves one veterinarian, Dr Robert McLeod, to see out-of-hours emergencies. COVID–19 protocols have decreased the efficiency with which we were able to see patients at all times of the day, and while we have made several adjustments to improve that situation, it is still a work in progress. Thankfully, our marvelous group of Registered Veterinary Technologists and support staff has been able to step up and help us maintain the excellent level of service our clients have become accustomed to. Additionally, Dr Julia Kaczkowski is continuing to work 3-days per week, and we are thankful she has elected to stay in Creston and contribute to our team. Dr Gailius has also expressed an interest in doing some locum days over the winter, and that will also be very helpful.

We are currently making all efforts to enlist further veterinarians (over the last two years, this has become a full-time job for our Recruitment Coordinator). We have hired a new graduate (scheduled to start next year), and we are working on finding locum vets and experienced veterinarians to bolster our ranks. In the meantime, we will need to make some adjustments to our services. With only one vet to provide it; 24-hour emergency service can no longer be guaranteed. We will do our best to provide these services as much as possible, but there will be times when we will have to refer emergencies to centres with more veterinarians. Most times, we will have a technician available to triage your case, but even this may not always be possible.

Client Triage:

Loyal Long-term CVH clients: You are our number one priority, and we will do all in our power to make sure you get the service to which you have become accustomed. We will be making all efforts to make sure both your routine and emergency veterinary needs are met. Unfortunately, we may not always be able to provide you with 24-hour emergency service, but we will do our best to be as available as possible.

New to Creston Clients: Those of you who have just moved here or are new to the CVH and do not have a regular service veterinarian are welcome. We will do our best to accommodate you along with our Loyal Long-term clients.

Clients of US clinics who cannot cross the border:

Many of you have indicated that you would like to continue to use our services after the border has opened. If this is the case, please let our receptionists know, and they will change your status on our computer. However, please note that the two above groups will continue to take priority.

As a courtesy to our veterinary colleagues to the south and concern for your animals, we have been doing our best to fill your pets’ prescriptions and see you when you are in need. We will continue to do so when we are able; however, we will be prioritizing the needs of our Loyal, Long-term clients first, so please ensure to make your requests well in advance of your needs. Similarly, we will see your emergencies or urgent appointments if we have space available, but please be prepared to travel out of town as this cannot be guaranteed.

Abusive Clients: As always, we are happy to hear any clients’ concerns and actively use feedback to improve our service to the community. We encourage positive suggestions and open conversations; however, we have a zero-tolerance policy for abusive behaviour. Abuse includes swearing, yelling, any forceful physical contact, electronic abuse, or failure to make adequate financial arrangements. We reserve the right to determine if we feel the behaviour is abusive as we cannot make an all-inclusive list. As such, any form of abusive behaviour will mean immediate barring from further service at Creston Veterinary Hospital. Fortunately, this applies to a small minority of our interactions with Creston residents, but it is a matter we take very seriously.

Again, we thank all our loyal clients for their ongoing support, kindness, and encouragement this year. If compelled to do so, please contact Creston Veterinary Hospital directly with your comments, questions, or concerns at 250-428-9494 or [email protected].