UCD Veterinary Hospital Update
Like so many of you, this unique year of 2020 continues to provide more than its fair share of surprises and new challenges in how we could deliver high quality teaching and patient care in UCDVH.It was a huge relief and indeed morale boost to get final year veterinary medicine and veterinary nursing students back on site in early September, but having mastered the art of running a hospital during the first lockdown, the additional challenges of providing face-to-face teaching did require meticulous planning. The good news is that due to the excellent contribution, foresight and forbearance of staff and students, we have not missed a single days’ rotation during the current academic year. Clearly, I recognize the huge efforts of all my colleagues but I would make a specific point of praising our students; in simple terms, they have been amazing in their patience, understanding, lack of complaining and acceptance of what they can and cannot achieve in this difficult period. I would also hugely acknowledge the enormous contribution of all those colleagues in practice who have continued to accept students on placement to enable this essential teaching modality to continue.
The other strange thing about this year has been just how busy and varied the case-load that actually presented to UCDVH since March 2020. Whilst only accepting urgent and emergent cases at first, it soon became clear that there was an even greater need for our colleagues to access referral centres to assist them in managing their respective case-loads. While we initially anticipated that referral numbers may decline, the opposite proved to be the case in recent months and has been evident across all disciplines (companion animal, farm animal, equine and clinical pathology laboratories). In addition, the complexity of such cases and the added stress on clients when not able to visit etc. were extra factors we needed to deal with.
Looking forward, we anticipate our final application for planning permission for the small animal hospital expansion will be submitted over the coming weeks; this new development will incorporate new units for oncology, an Animal Rehabilitation Centre and a dedicated feline clinic in addition to more consultation/treatment rooms and kennels. The oncology service that our boarded oncologist (Dr Amy Koterbay) runs in conjunction with her intern/nursing team continues to expand in numbers as we constantly enhance the number of chemotherapeutic modalities available to the School.
The Diagnostic Imaging service has seen quite a transition over the last 2 years; in addition to the new companion animal/equine standing CT put in previously, 2020 saw the introduction of permanent on-site MRI that is able to process both small animal and equine cases. Whilst we have accepted a relatively small number of external MRI requests during this initial period of Covid-related restrictions, the intention is to launch a fully accessible external CT/MRI service for colleagues in practice early in 2021. To add additional value for referring veterinarians, we have entered into an agreement with a board-certified neurologist who will review all case histories and clinical findings recorded at the referring practice, and then advise on the suitability of the imaging modality to be selected as well offering additional clinical advice/support as appropriate; this additional service will be offered at relatively low extra cost but allows us offer colleagues a more holistic service.
This year saw our continued excellent collaboration with the DSPCA and the further expansion of the Equine Ambulatory service; huge thanks are due to Brian Gillen who facilitated an upgrade of the surgical suite facilities at the DSPCA and who continues to be a rock of support for undergraduate education. In addition, we formed a strategic link with Village Vets to allow our Final Year students gain enhanced case exposure to vital first opinion material that further refines and ensures their Day 1 skill sets and competencies. Again, this endeavour which has proved incredibly popular with our students, would not have been possible without the creative thinking of Charles Cosgrave, Zoe Duggan and all the team at Village Vets who offered us unstinting support in our efforts to ensure we provide the best educational experience for our “soon to be” colleagues.
Finally, none of the above would have been remotely possible without the support of our alumni whose support and consideration is always hugely appreciated and never taken for granted. Whilst I think everyone of us is looking forward to some form of respite and rest at Xmas, I sincerely hope that things are going well for all of your families and wish you a very Happy Xmas and (for the love of Heaven) a much, much better 2021.
Best wishes and take care,