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GOOCHLAND, Virginia (WWBT) – For nearly 25 years, Goochland’s Veterinary Referral and Critical Care Hospital has opened its doors unlocked and open to those in need every day.
Despite snowstorms, Hurricane Isabel, and even on Christmas Day, the staff are ready to work and help the community.
But on Sunday the doors were locked, the lights turned off and for the first time the cages in the hospital were empty with no pets.
“Right now it’s completely empty, which is a very strange, kind of creepy feeling,” said Edward Fallin, director of internal medicine. “There are no pumps, no beeps, no animals and no people.”
Fallin says the number of patients in his intensive care unit has increased over the past year after many veterinary practices closed and decided not to reopen during the pandemic.
After losing more than 20 employees and increasing the workflow, the hospital made the decision to close for 36 hours every week.
“Basically, over time, there has been a snowball effect. We have seen more and more staff shrink in cases because most of the people who work here are parents and have children who weren’t in school and they had to quit, ”said Fallin.
Hoping not to lose any more employees, the hospital changed its operating hours from 24/7 to Saturdays at 6 p.m. and did not reopen until 8 a.m. on Mondays.
Now, towards the end of the week, staff have to be careful how many patients they take in because they cannot close with an animal in the building on Saturday.
“This is not a boarding school, so these animals need to be looked after around the clock and that cannot be done without someone not being here,” said Fallin.
Fallin said staff need to look at other hospitals in the area that can accept patients, creating an even bigger avalanche as it means other clinics are receiving an influx of patients.
He says he hopes this doesn’t last long and is looking for more staff, but it’s hard to come. Fallin asks if you need to take your pet to an emergency clinic to call on time to make sure there are enough staff for you.
“We were [in the same situation] I’ve received cases from several other veterinary clinics in Virginia Beach, Fredricksburg, Raleigh, the Nags Head area, and Charlottesville, ”Fallin said. “You sent her here and that’s why I’m really worried and my co-workers are really worried because if we don’t meet that need, who is it?”
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