Behind the scenes of an animal emergency

Champaign, IL (WCIA)

It’s very scary to have a pet sick enough to have to go to the vet urgently. So what’s going on there with your pet? And why is it so long?

Dr. Meghan Fick explains how the Small Animal Emergency Department at the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital works.

After you register at the clinic reception and sign the admission consent forms, your pet will be brought to our emergency room for an evaluation by our technicians and doctors. You will remain in the waiting area.

This rapid initial examination is part of the triage process, when doctors determine which patients are most urgently needed.

You will be notified if your pet’s condition is urgent or stable. Urgent cases have priority. Sometimes our emergency department is extremely busy, so if your pet’s condition appears stable, there may be a wait while staff treat more seriously ill patients.

Once your pet has been fully evaluated, the doctors will discuss their findings and treatment options with you to formulate a treatment plan. You will receive a written estimate of the care you authorize for your animal.

The University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital Small Animal Emergency Department sees patients 24/7/365. It takes a large team to deal with the large number of dogs, cats and sometimes parrots, rabbits, lizards and other pets that come through this service.

  • 4 DVM small animal emergency/critical care faculty members, two with board certification in veterinary emergency and critical care
  • 7 DVM residents or interns dedicated to small animal emergencies/resuscitation
  • Over 25 certified veterinary technicians who work exclusively with ER/ICU small animals

Veterinary assistants, rotational DVM interns, and fourth-year vet students also play a role in the delivery of care
The ER is part of the most comprehensive veterinary facility in the state, with exceptional staff and facilities. In 2021, Emergency and Critical Care moved into a larger, newly renovated space in the Veterinary Teaching Hospital.

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