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November 2012 - A demanding day

Today has proved to be a very demanding day. The team today consisted of six out of our seven equine vets as Morven is on a well deserved holiday with her husband Tom, one of our farm vets. We have had a full complement of four equine only nurses working today, headed up by Fiona, with Gemma, Stacey and Kirsty, as well as our team of support staff in the office. Lindsay manages the equine team in the office while liaising with referring vets and clients on the second opinion side of the practice. Most often it will be Kathryn or Charlotte, our two receptionists, that you will speak to on the phone but their job doesn’t stop there with them being responsible for insurance claims and all the associated paperwork as well as organising the diary. No mean feat with seven vets to plan for! Bills and accounting have their own team of Accounts manager, Kay with Gillian and Jane assisting her.

The day started for the hospital at 7am with Fiona beginning the feeding, mucking out and general care of the six horses who had been in the hospital overnight. This included a horse which had arrived late the night before with a serious injury of its hind fetlock, and which required to be prepared for surgery that morning. By 8am, the horse was undergoing keyhole surgery (arthroscopy) of its infected fetlock, performed by Andrew while Alison monitored its anaesthetic. The surgery revealed the joint to have been punctured at the time of the injury meaning keyhole surgery and flushing of the joint was vital to remove all grit, dirt and debris. The extent of the soft tissue injury meant the horse was recovered from its anaesthetic with its leg in a fibre glass cast and this was done so using our assisted recovery system of ropes and pulleys. This year alone the operating theatre has seen 125 surgeries performed so far. Each surgery generally requires at least three members of staff; anaesthetist, surgeon and a theatre nurse; the surgeon may often require an assistant to be ‘scrubbed in’.

So whilst Alison, Andrew and Gemma were busy in theatre, the rest of the vets were arriving to receive their lists of calls for the day. Between 8.30am and 9am is always a busy time in the practice and today has been perhaps a little more stressful than usual as this is the first day of our new computer system. The practice management system is involved in booking calls, invoicing and clinical records and represents a vitally important part of the running of a seven vet Equine Hospital. Any new system creates its own difficulties to start with however today has gone reasonably well all things considered.

Will returned to work today following a few days holiday which saw him complete a marathon. He has had a varied day today, starting with an early visit to a racing yard to assess and change the bandage of a horse which had a successful repair of a fractured pastern at the Hospital a few weeks earlier. Louise and Susan also have been busy on the road today covering many miles and seeing horses with issues varying from eye problems to lameness and colic.

Luanne, accompanied by one of the equine nurses Stacey, set off to visit a large race training yard to perform gastroscopy on ten horses as part of an ulcer prevention regime at the yard. The mobile gastroscopy service that we set up in 2011 has been taken up some large yards, and in particular racing yards, and can be undertaken for other vets as a second opinion service.

Back at the hospital, the horse in theatre had now recovered uneventfully from its anaesthetic, freeing up Andrew and Alison to see other cases. Andrew has had a frustrating but ultimately successful day including working up a forelimb lameness which, after a series of nerve blocks, was localised, very unusually, to the elbow joint.

In the afternoon, we had the arrival of four racehorses which are going to be operated on tomorrow by a visiting specialist airway surgeon, Mr Geoff Lane BVetMed DESTS FRCVS. A total of five surgeries are scheduled for tomorrow meaning any preparation which can be done today is massively helpful. Each horse will require to be clipped, weighed and have their shoes removed. The lameness cases worked on at the clinic the nurses are heavily involved with the trotting, lunging and riding horses and assisting in the imaging (bone scan, x-ray, ultrasound scanning) the second examination room which was completed at the end of last year has assisted with the through put of cases.

As the end of the working days draws near, Will and Alison get ready to take over the night duty work and they are assisted by Gemma who is the on-call nurse on this particular evening. On any given night and weekend there are two equine only vets, one equine nurse and a surgeon on duty.

If you have any comments you would like to make on this blog then please contact Lindsay at the hospital or contact us via Facebook. We hope to produce a block 3 or 4 times a year to give you a flavour of what we do as an Equine Hospital.

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