PDSA Vet Hermione, who features in the new Channel 4 show, gives us a behind-the-scenes look at her day.
I joined PDSA in 2017 on their graduate programme and spent a year splitting my time between the Southampton and Bournemouth PDSA hospitals. Following its completion, I moved to South London and have been working as a vet in the Croydon PDSA Pet Hospital ever since. I love my job and I love making a difference – not just to the lives of animals but to the lives of their owners, too.
I’m used to every day being different (and busy!) but since the coronavirus pandemic turned the world upside down, we’ve had to make changes to the way we work to make sure pets, owners and our teams are safe.
Has this stopped us helping poorly pets in need? Not at all. We’re seeing emergency cases every day in the hospital and still checking up on all our patients.
No such thing as normal
Usually, my days would have been orientated around the Pet Hospital. But since lockdown, I’ve started working from home which has been a huge change for me, and all of the veterinary profession I think.
We’re having to adjust our whole routines to continue our life-saving work, including carrying out our consultations from home over the phone. I’ve spent two days running consultations from home this week, and the rest of my week will be at the Pet Hospital where I’ll alternate between emergency consultations and emergency operations.
Working as a vet at PDSA, I’m used to never having a ‘typical’ day. One of the great things about my job is that the days are never the same. There’s always a great deal of variation, from consults seeing all kind of pets, through to emergencies that come rushing through the door that need urgent care and treatment. This hasn’t changed during the pandemic, we’re still treating emergencies, and it’s as fast paced as ever. Although the footfall to the hospital has reduced, with many consults being done remotely to maintain social distancing, work in the hospital feels busier than ever (despite the empty waiting room).
A day at the Pet Hospital
In the morning
My rota is constantly changing, but today I arrived at work early for a 9am -7pm shift. I never quite know what the day will bring. Since the start of lockdown we've usually had, at most, two vets working in the hospital alongside a much reduced team.
Today I’ve been consulting all morning, seeing to pets who need our urgent care that have called through to the Pet Hospital and been sent down by my colleagues working from home.
The way we see and treat pets has changed significantly since lockdown. Due to social distancing measures, we’re no longer able to hold consultations with pets and their owners inside our hospitals. For urgent cases that have been sent to the pet hospital, we’re asking people to wait outside in their cars while we examine their pets inside – an experience we’ve never had before and something that’s taken some getting used to.
So this morning, I’ve been phoning owners who have told us they are waiting in the car park to clarify what’s going on. I then collect their pet from the car (wearing my PPE), and ask them to wait in the car park while we assess their pet. This process means consults take a lot longer than they would normally.
Today, I’ve seen pets with a number of different problems, including a lot of vomiting cats and dogs off their food. Following examination of the pet some pets have been sent home and others have been admitted to the hospital for further investigation.
Sometimes I will be able to catch a short break in between a steady flow of consults, but on busy days, or if an emergency comes in, this isn’t always possible! You’ll often find a lot of tasty snacks and homemade treats in our staff room for the team to enjoy when they get time!
In the afternoon
Emergency consults will continue into the afternoon, sometimes an emergency is rushed in and requires all hands on deck.
A kitten called Shams was recently rushed in for emergency treatment. She was still recovering from injuries shed sustained in a road traffic accident and her owner had noticed she’d fallen very unwell again.
After examining her I found she had pyometra, a fatal womb infection which would require an emergency operation. She was still recovering from her horrific road traffic accident so she was in a very fragile state. With extreme care, we were able to carry out the life-saving surgery she urgently needed.
Towards the end of my shift, I make sure any pets still in the hospital have a treatment plan and as a team we ensure all pets get discharged home or transferred to the out of hours safely. Then it’s time to go home ourselves (sometimes on time!).