Monday, December 10, 2007


We woke up this morning to ice on the trees and power lines-just like we did this past January when a monster ice storm hit the Springfield area. Although this was pretty minor compared to that we did have a power outage at work for about 2 hours this morning. It brought back chilling memories of the 11 days the clinic went without power earlier this year. For those of you that have not heard the story I have copied here the email I sent to my vet school classmates and a few pictures I took at work. After our ordeal we were featured in a national veterinary magazine.

Some of you may have gotten a chance to experience the pleasures of running a veterinary clinic without electricity but in case you have not let me tell you a bit about our week.Tomorrow will be our 6th day without power (unless by some miracle power is restored overnight-but the branches and power lines down in the alley behind the clinic are not a good prognostic indicator) since the ice storm hit Springfield on Friday night. This morning the temperature in our reception area hit a new low of 40 degrees. We are fortunate to have a client that owns an equipment rental shop who loaned us a generator. He actually didn't have any available but was saving this one back for himself in case he lost power-however is has not been that long since I euthanized his dog on his bathroom floor so he went ahead and let us use it. We can only run it during the day though, because if we leave it out at night it will surely be stolen. It manages to heat the very back of the hospital (mainly the furthest ward) to a tolerable temperature. We moved all the boarding animals we could not get rid of to the back ward cages and then piled the floor with blankets so we can all sit around and be warm and wait for the phone to ring. Of course since we are "paperless" and rely on computers for everything we are essentially crippled when it comes to everything. We have no idea about patient history (nothing like asking the client what size pills they need and how many, or trying to verify a refill at a pharmacy without the record-"sure just give them what the bottle they have says on it"), vaccine records, weights, ages, nothing. We have no scheduling system anymore, have no idea what is supposed to come in or who to call to cancel. But we have not had a single scheduled appointment come all week so I guess that worked out ok. We can't see anything that might need bloodwork, radiographs, or hospitalization, and I can't use the microscope or anything else needing electricity. Our phone system requires electricity and the battery back up crapped out sometime overnight on Friday so by Monday we had scrounged up 2 old fashioned phones. But the only jacks in the building we could plug into were way in the front of the building with the arctic temperatures. So we have to send someone running every time it rings b/c we are all camped out in the ward playing games (like those you use to keep busy on a very long car trip). Today it got so cold that the batteries in the all the thermometers went dead and we couldn't take temperatures on the 3 animals that came in the door.We have spend the days fending off requests for boarding (evidently people have no problem leaving their pet in a cold facility while they go somewhere heated), and explaining to people that we cannot bathe their pet, verify vaccination records, or reschedule their neuter appointment-please keep calling back until we have power.Since I am lucky enough to live far enough south of town that we maintained power my refrigerator is now home to hundreds of vaccines, insulin and a few other medications. I have also been dragging a few vaccines back and forth every day in a cooler in the event that we should happen to need them. Plus some lucky person gets the job of going over to the freezer every day and poking the dead dogs to make sure they are still frozen!And even though we look forward to the electric coming back on, when it does we will have to enter all the medical notes, prescriptions, SOAPs, and monetary transactions into the files. It is unlikely that the cash drawer will balance b/c we are figuring everything, including tax by hand. On the plus side we get to close early every day because once it starts to get dark there is no point to even trying to do anything. Plus by 3 or 4 PM we are so cold and bored we can't stand it anyway.And the real kicker is that our boss is in Orlando at the NAVC swimming with the Manatees!


Sarah said...

The first question that comes to my mind...why didn't you just close?

Nicki said...

Our clients couldn't go 11 days without medications, food, etc. There is also no emergency clinic open during the day and many people did not want to go to another clinic unless truly needed.