Operational changes during COVID-19

Temporary triage-away arrangements for weekend emergency services

As we make operational adjustments related to COVID-19, which will see a boost in our capacity once these changes have taken place, we will be making some temporary changes to the services we offer. As a result, for six weeks commencing from Saturday 8 August, U-Vet may experience periods when its ‘walk-in’ emergency services are at capacity on weekends. We will continue to offer 24-hour emergency services as normal from Monday to Friday. On weekends, during periods when the hospital is at capacity, we will temporarily not be able to offer emergency services to ‘walk-in’ patients unless they have a life-threatening condition. When the hospital is at capacity, animals will be assessed by one of our vets, and if there are no grave concerns for their welfare, triaged away to another emergency centre.

What does this mean for you?

If your pet requires emergency care on any weekend between 8 August and 20 September, U-Vet may not be able accept patients during periods when the emergency service is at capacity. When this happens, your pet will be triaged by one of our vets and, if your pet does not have a life-threatening emergency, you will need to visit another emergency vet service such as:

Alternatively, you may choose to wait for an appointment at your own veterinary practice the following week.

What if my vet refers me to U-Vet, even though it’s the weekend?

U-Vet will still be accepting referral patients from other veterinary practitioners.

What if my pet is staying at U-Vet for care?

The U-Vet hospital wards are always open with staff on hand to provide care for animals housed with us. We just may experience periods when we will not be accepting new patients over these weekends.

What if I arrive and my animal is in a critical condition?

Your animal will be assessed by one of our vets and, if it is determined that an animal requires immediate veterinary care, we will of course see to their health and ensure their welfare.

As always, high-quality animal care is our top priority and we’re grateful for your patience as we make these adjustments that will ensure we can continue to provide the level of service you expect from U-Vet Werribee Animal Hospital.

Operational practice during COVID-19

We would like to reiterate our commitment to providing and maintaining a safe environment for our human and animal clients so we can safeguard our ability to provide vital care for the animals that need us. U-Vet adheres to the recommendations and policies of the Victorian government and the University of Melbourne. As such, we will continue to apply our altered COVID-19 practices in order to ensure that you, your pets and our staff are operating within the safest environment possible. This means we will maintain the social distancing measures implemented some time ago so we can ensure that U-Vet stays operational in order to treat your pets safely and effectively.

The safety of our community – both human and animal – is of the utmost importance to us. Doing our part to reduce human-to-human contact will mean we’re helping to slow the spread of COVID-19 and ensuring our practitioners remain healthy and well to avoid a shutdown. As such, we’ll be making some changes to how we operate to ensure biosecurity in the space in which we treat your pets.

  • Based on the latest available information, we will remain open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, except where triage-away arrangements are in place on weekends between Saturday 8 August and Sunday 20 September.
  • During this time, we will be prioritising the animals that need our help most. During normal business hours we will be taking only urgent cases. Outside normal working hours we will be taking only emergency cases.
  • To ensure our staff are able to maintain safe social distancing, it is imperative that clients call ahead to book an appointment. Clients who do not make an appointment before arriving will likely be turned away and asked to make a booking. Your time is valuable, so please assist us by arriving for booked appointments only.
  • In order to ensure that our smaller staffing numbers can give patients the best possible treatment, U-Vet will be unable to accept new clients until further notice so that we can look after our existing clients. We will still be accepting new patients from referring vets for specialist referral surgical and medical services.

While these measures have been put in place to protect our staff from infection, and therefore ensure that we are able to continue treating animals that need our care, our commitment to animal health is our ultimate concern. We will, of course, accept animals in critical need of treatment, regardless of the circumstances.

What is an 'urgent case'?

To ensure that we can remain open and continue to provide clinical services to the animals that need our help, we will be reducing the risk of spread of infection within our staff through social distancing. As a result, we will be prioritising urgent cases, which may include the following:

  • Emergency and intensive care cases
  • Complex cases that require immediate attention from referral services
  • Cases that need immediate or prompt veterinary attention, that cannot be postponed or managed by General Practice
  • Essential cases that may not need immediate veterinary attention, but which do need veterinary support to maintain welfare (e.g., animals with chronic conditions), or to prevent welfare issues arising (e.g., dental care).

If you believe your pet needs to be evaluated by our team, contact our staff on 9731 2000 for small animals and 9731 2268 for horses.

Existing appointments

If you have an existing appointment, our staff will be in contact with you to make alternative arrangements for the continued care of your pet. In light of the government recommendations to practice social distancing, unless it’s vital to their health, we discourage you from bringing your pets to U-Vet for assessment or treatment during this time. If in doubt, call our helpful staff who can offer you advice.

Concierge service

Before your booking, we may call to ask you some questions about your health or recent travel, in order to ensure the safety of everyone who is treated, visits or works at U-Vet. When you arrive at the hospital, we’ll ask you to wait outside in your car and call reception. Our reception staff may ask you further questions and then will arrange to collect your pet from you. Asking you to wait outside means you can keep your distance from other waiting pet owners. We have implemented extra security.

What happens to my pet once inside the clinic?

It’s difficult and emotional to be separated from your pet when he or she isn’t well. U-Vet wants all pets to feel as safe and comfortable as possible. Every visiting animal will be assigned to one caring nurse who will stay with them for the duration of their visit. Once your pet is in the consulting room, the vet will phone you to discuss symptoms, history and treatment options, and to confirm your consent. You’ll receive another call when your pet is ready for pick-up at the front door.

What if my pet is critically ill or difficult to handle when I'm not present?

U-Vet has set up a dedicated consulting room with direct access from outside the clinic, to minimise traffic through the hospital, so you can be in the room with your pet, if necessary.

How do I make payment?

U-Vet will only be able to accept electronic payment at this time, such as credit card payment by phone or BPAY.

Medicine, oncology and surgery referrals

For the coming six-week period, commencing 3 July 2020, we are making further operational adjustments related to COVID-19 that may result in clients who have been referred by their regular vet for medicine, oncological and surgical treatment waiting longer than usual for an appointment. This is a temporary situation and we look forward to seeing a boost in our capacity once these changes have taken place.

For this period, patients who have previously been referred to us for these services will be recommended to return to their regular vet for their follow-up appointments where possible. Any required follow-up will be discussed with you and with your vet following your appointment at U-Vet. Our medicine, oncology, and surgery clinicians will, as always, be available to your vet and to you via phone or email for discussion of any concerns about previously referred patients’ cases.

All cases and requests for appointments will be prioritised according to need, with the health of referred animals given the utmost precedence.

Strays policy

To minimise the risk of staff infection and subsequent shutdown through human-to-human contact, U-Vet will no longer accept stray and unowned animals, unless sick or injured.

We remain open and are prioritising urgent cases, which include sick or injured strays, to ensure that we can offer continued care to animals while maintaining the safety of our clients and staff. Our staff are committed to the welfare of all animals and, like you, are adapting to the changes in the way we work.

If you come across stray animals, please contact your local council for information on where and how to deliver them.

We thank you for your understanding as we do our best to ensure the health of our community. The University of Melbourne continues to make decisions in line with the continuing advice from the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and the Australian Government Department of Health in relation to coronavirus (COVID-19). You can find the University’s full response at the dedicated COVID-19 webpage.

We wish you and your pets the best of health as this situation unfolds.

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