Update 9/14/21: Rest assured that unless otherwise noted, the changes below apply to our daytime/Primary Care practice and not our ER! Our Emergency Service will remain open and continue to operate as it always has, for all veterinary emergencies.
For more on how this works, check out our second post!
Since we opened in the 1930s, Ann Arbor Animal Hospital has been a reliable source for the routine, urgent, and emergency care of your furry loved ones.
When our founding veterinarian started the business, he saw primarily large animals (cows, horses, etc) but had a space dedicated to small animals (dogs, cats, etc). In the mid 1960s, the second owner switched us over exclusively to small animals. The current owner took over in 1982 and has grown and expanded the practice into what it is today. Through all of that time, we’ve served both as a primary care veterinarian and as a backup veterinarian when clients’ regular primary care veterinarian was closed or booked up. And through all of that time, one thing remained constant—we were a walk-in vet, no appointment needed.
What is changing?
Unfortunately, as times and circumstances change, we must change with them. We have received compelling feedback—particularly from our long-term clients—indicating that our walk-in model is no longer working as intended. Rather than being a quick way to pop in for a visit whenever convenient, it has become (due to a nationwide veterinary staffing shortage that has existed for the last two years, with no end in sight) a phone battle in the mornings followed by a slog through an hours-long line. While the introduction of our virtual queue allowed clients to wait at home rather than in the parking lot, an unintended consequence of having a queue was the stress of being “on call” for an appointment all day long. The system largely stopped being “walk-in” and instead became “call and wait”.
Our walk-in model deserves much of the credit for the versatility we enjoy as a clinic, and we’re reluctant to leave it behind. However, we have decided that starting this October, we’ll be switching to a predominantly appointment-based model. Our ultimate goal is to continue providing the best possible care for your furry family. We will still offer some same-day visits, but they will now be appointments (booked in the morning for a specific time that day) rather than a queue.
Most visits will now be appointments booked weeks/months in advance (including evening & weekend appointments). Our hope is that this will make it easier for our regular clients to schedule their annual checkups and other foreseeable care needs, while keeping the door open for patients who need to be seen on very short notice (with our limited same-day appointment slots).
Please note that we will still be offering 24/7 emergency care as a separate service from our scheduled appointments. As of the present time, we plan to continue using a queue for emergency/urgent care (with patients seen in order of urgency/severity).
How will the new model work?
As mentioned above, for routine and foreseeable care, we will ask that clients book an appointment days/weeks/months in advance by calling our office. We are working on implementing an online appointment request system which we hope to have available in the near future. Our appointment system will work the same way as appointments do at any other veterinary or human medicine practice.
For same-day and urgent (i.e., needs to be seen promptly, but not immediately life-threatening) care, we will ask that clients place themselves into our virtual queue using our website. Our staff will review these same-day appointment requests, and clients will be booked into same-day appointment slots in the order their appointment requests were submitted, until all same-day appointment slots have been filled. This should help to ensure fairness (automatically keeps track of the order that requests came in), reduce client time spent waiting on hold (since clients would be able to quickly submit the request online rather than calling in and waiting for an available receptionist), and greatly improve clients’ ability to get through to us via phone for emergency needs.
Once this new system is in place, clients we can fit into one of our same-day appointment slots will be contacted to make sure the available appointment slot works with their schedule. We will try to see as many patients as we can each day, but we anticipate from past trends in demand that there will be days we are not able to see everyone who would like to be seen. Your best chance at being seen on a given day will still hinge on getting into the queue as early as possible (i.e., close to 8 AM)—but it will be much easier/require less of your time to get into that queue.
For those clients who have requested a same-day appointment, but whom we cannot see that day, our staff will reach out via phone to see if we can (for non-urgent cases) find a future appointment time that would work well for them, or (for urgent cases), to offer the option of either waiting in our critical care queue or being referred to another facility for care.
There may still be several hours of wait time involved for urgent/critical care services.
For emergency care (i.e., a severe injury/illness that is immediately life-threatening), we ask that clients call and immediately inform the person who answers that it is an emergency so the call can be routed to our critical care department and the patient’s status assessed. Emergency cases are seen in order of urgency (we triage the same way human ER’s do). As with urgent/critical care, there may still be several hours of wait time involved, depending on the specifics of the patient’s condition and the condition of the other patients already in our care.
IF YOU ARE UNCERTAIN WHETHER YOUR LOVED ONE’S CONDITION IS “URGENT” OR AN EMERGENCY, PLEASE CALL!
It is far better to call and learn the condition can wait than to not call and learn it couldn’t.
We are reaching out to our referring veterinary offices, informing them of this change to our model. It is our hope they will keep this transition in mind when advising future referrals.
We appreciate your patience as we work on ways to continue to evolve and provide the best possible care to your furry loved ones during this nationwide veterinary staffing shortage.