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Alberni vet clinic offers limited after-hours care
One Port Alberni veterinary clinic offers on-call veterinary care outside of office hours. But owner/ veterinarian Alana Symington says Manzini Animal Hospital still refers cases requiring complex care to Nanaimo.
Symington has worked at Manzini Animal Hospital for the last five years, the last three of which she has owned and operated it.
Symington and other local veterinarians met three years ago and decided to refer animals requiring after-hours care to the Central Island Emergency Veterinary Hospital in Nanaimo.
Manzini opted to continue offering after-hours care for their own clients on an on-call basis despite the decision, Symington said.
“My colleague and I offer on-call care one night per week each and one weekend per month,” she said. “It’s important to still offer the service and to give people this option,” she said.
During regular hours Manzini offers services such as surgery, medical, laser, blood work and ultrasound.
Although the facility offers on-call care it is within a limited context, said Symington, who just worked such a shift the previous evening.
The service is aimed mostly at facility clients whose pets are suffering from complications from a medical procedure that day.
On-call service is not offered on a specific day but rather on a flexible basis, she said.
Some animals brought in on-call may be suffering from injuries or conditions that require care over and above what Manzini can handle, she said. In those instances, the owners will still be referred to Nanaimo.
“They have a facility, equipment and staff available 24 hours; that’s their mandate,” Symington said. “We can’t do it all. It’s like comparing what a doctor’s office offers compared to a hospital.”
An example might be an animal that required intravenous overnight. Symington can administer the procedure but there is no one to monitor the animal overnight.
“You can tell a human to stay still or you’ll rip out your intravenous tubes but that doesn’t work for a dog.”
Safety is another consideration with on-call availability. “Most of us are women. I answered a call once at night and found a drunk guy on our business doorstep,” Symington said.
The extra travel time to Nanaimo is cancelled out by the fact that it may take an hour or longer to give the same treatment immediately in Port Alberni. “And if the animal can’t make the trip to Nanaimo then most likely it can’t be saved,” she said.
“I’ve saved animals on occasion but those are the exception and not the rule.”
Courtenay and Campbell River have larger populations that Port Alberni yet neither offers 24-hour veterinary care, she said.
“It takes an enormous population to make the business viable. Why do you think there are only two 24-hour care facilities on the Island (Victoria and Nanaimo)?” Symington said.
Port Alberni Mayor John Douglas has arranged a meeting for Thursday, Oct. 10 between local veterinarians and Mel Dunlop, who is spearheading the effort to establish regular 24-hour veterinary care in the Alberni Valley.
The News carried a story last week about Dunlop, whose daughter’s dog had to be euthanized after complications from spay surgery forced the family to drive the dog to Nanaimo for help.
Symington confirmed she’s attending the meeting. “We’re going to discuss common concerns, what services we offer and what our take on this matter is,” she said.