Our 2 year old puggle blew a disc and went spontaneously paraplegic on a holiday. Our vet clinic voice message directed us to Calumet Emergency Vet Clinic.
We arrived mid morning and were immediately placed in an exam room, but then, other than a technician taking our dog's temp and weight, we spent over an hour with no information with our dog who was frightened and in pain, our teeth chattering under the blast of the rooms A/C vent. For the most part the receptionist desk was unmanned. When I finally snagged someone to ask what was going on they admitted they had only one vet on duty and ""really should"" have two on holidays.
To make a long story short it took us nearly four hours to get an x-ray, diagnosis and a very confused recommendation and prognosis. We were given options to take her to a couple of larger clinics for MRI and possible surgery but the costs were in the thousands. We were told that if we did not go that route they would put our dog on steroids and keep her overnight until we could get her to our own vet the next morning.
By now we were understanding that speed was of the essence, and that surgery was out of reach cost-wise, but the research center at Purdue was suggesting not to give steroids. This was contrary to the duty vet's claimed 35 years of experience but we went with IV hydration and sedation for the night since the vet herself seemed indecisive, even confused, about how to proceed.
What we eventually later found out when talking to our own vet was that the recommendation to avoid steroids was only IF we weren't going to do surgery. This crucial fact was not understood, although we overheard one of the consulting doctors on the phone requesting to talk personally with the Calumet Emergency vet on duty to explain more fully why and under what circumstances they were recommending against steroids, to my knowledge the effort was never made to have that detailed consult. By the next day our dog was in agony and had to be put down. For all I know they have changed their protocol for managing other dogs in this situation without a full understanding of why.
We also got a great deal of helpful straight talk from our regular vet that we didn't get from the emergency clinic: the posture our dog was assuming indicated a very poor prognosis with high probability of relapse, even should she recover. Ultimately our dog was probably doomed anyway, but in slightly different circumstances the poorly structured customer service at Calumet Emergency Vet Clinic could have doomed her to poor outcomes or signed her death warrant.
What's needed is additional vet staffing for peak days, proactive and ongoing status communication to waiting families, and cross training so that staff in the back treatment area who are not immediately needed can pitch in out front. The customer experience right now is open-ended waiting with no feedback or expression of caring in a situation that for most visitors is highly stressful already. Back room staff are sealed off from customer contact and customers are sealed off from staff. There is no sense of urgency or of competent professionalism.
When we did have access to the back room to comfort our dog, there were a half-dozen, or so, technicians ambling about and chatting – basically appearing to do very little – while customers and their pets sat with no assistance out front. Most of the time, there was literally NO ONE manning the front desk. We are beyond disgusted. The vet’s lack of knowledge leaves us speechless. She had NO IDEA how to proceed, and she claimed decades of experience.
We give them a grade of D- and will be recommending to our regular vet not to use this service as they are not doing a good job of covering their off hours to proper standards.