Coronavirus Diaries

Darren Stubbs, our Wear hospital manager:

As with everyone else, we went from being aware that a very concerning situation was developing across the world, to the unprecedented lockdown measures imposed on the UK.

We adapted to these measures very quickly and, as time moved on, they made us question almost every aspect of our lives both at home and at work.

The early phase of lockdown was undoubtedly the most demanding and challenging of my 30 years-plus as a leader, dealing with a variety of situations none of us had ever experienced or even imagined.

The feeling of immense responsibility to keep 127 associates safe, while at the same time not putting pet owners at risk and treating all of the patients RCVS guidance allowed us to (and with the same level of care we would normally give) was almost overwhelming at times.

In late March and April, it felt as though every hour of every day we were being presented with questions which, prior to the pandemic, we hadn’t even contemplated.

The answers to these would have an impact on the wellbeing of our team, the emotions of clients and the life of someone’s beloved pet and companion.

A number of local primary care practices had to reduce their opening hours and days to cope with their own challenges associated with Covid, so we supported every request to cover for them when they couldn’t open.

As a result of Coronavirus, my leadership team in the hospital implemented change at a pace we probably didn’t think was possible, working tirelessly and with compassion to support our people through all of the changes in schedules and ways of working.

The support for each other, and me, has been truly invaluable.

One of the toughest things for us was not being able to allow owners into the hospital building to see their pets who were terribly unwell. That was distressing for them and also for our team, who as pet parents themselves understood why, but couldn’t contemplate being in that position themselves.

We split our teams and ran a full service, seven days a week, to limit the number of people in the hospital at any one time and allow space, while increasing the number of associates working on our OOH service, as it became significantly busier with more emergency cases.

Without complaint or question, the team at Wear dealt with the changes we asked them to follow with amazing positivity and incredible faith.

Video consults and MS Teams meetings became the new normal, which are effective but still not quite the same as getting people together in a room.

As guidance changed and we were able to see and treat urgent, as well as emergency cases, we gradually became busier and people adapted to distancing themselves from each other while working on patients.

Since the latest RCVS guidance update, the hospital has become extremely busy.

Bringing our teams back together was a big decision and a challenge to do so while maintaining social distancing throughout the hospital.

Communication from the senior leadership team at Linnaeus has been brilliant. They have been swift to respond to changes in guidance and situation, often ahead of the game, and always available and tremendously supportive.

I’m proud and grateful to work in an organisation which genuinely has the wellbeing of its people at the heart of all decision-making.

My main reflection as we continue to make our way out of this situation is the fact that our associates are a very special group of people. Compassionate, caring, very skilled, hard-working, resilient, supportive and quite brilliant.

And to top it off I have been able to hug my granddaughter for the first time since February which really does put everything into perspective.

To find out more about the expert cardiology offering at Wear Referrals, which is part of Linnaeus, visit our cardiology page