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World-class vet hospital

Gippsland Veterinary Hospital has spent more than $1 million in upgrades to its Maffra centre, with the local animal healthcare provider now boasting a world-class, 24-hour veterinary clinic.

Six months ago, Gippsland Veterinary Hospital, also known as Fur Life Vet, located on Johnston Street, Maffra, completed the bulk of its most recent upgrades, which has since doubled the centre’s size, now offering animal healthcare services unheard of in regional areas.

The improved 24-hour veterinary hospital is now equipped with a CT machine, hydrotherapy pool, pathology and diagnostic laboratory, x-ray machine, surgical facilities, ICU and hospital ward, dental unit and a medical warehouse.

Gippsland Veterinary Hospital’s upgrades have been a long time coming as growth and demand for veterinary services in the region have continued to rise.

The COVID pandemic led to more households adding ‘fur members’ to the family. Gippsland Veterinary Hospital veterinarian and clinical lead Katherine Snell said they faced a substantial increase in client base and workload.

“We had already outgrown our existing clinic prior to COVID; it had been outgrown for years,” Dr Snell said.

“It had been a long-term process to get this building planned and underway, but during COVID, the growth was exceptional. That has led us to increase renovations during renovations to service the increased demand we hadn’t expected.”

While Maffra’s Gippsland Veterinary Hospital has long been known for its demand in dairy surgery and medicine, Dr Snell says there has since been a shift towards smaller animals.

“Maffra has been renowned for its dairy medicine and dairy surgery, but even in my ten years, I have gone from a 70 to 80 per cent dairy caseload to what now is a 70 to 80 per cent small animal caseload,” Dr Snell said.

“We still are servicing quite a large number of farms, and we still have significant growth in that area, which is where our Pro Dairy offerings come into play, being able to develop herd-health protocols, preventative herd-health.

“But it really has been our small animal family that has grown, in terms of the number of pets people own, but also the level of care they expect their pets to receive.

“No longer do they just get sub-standard medical; it is as good or even better than human medical care these days.”

Clinical coordinator Tanya Lowe said that offering services not typically available in regional areas, such as a CT machine, state-of-the-art diagnostic tools and a hydrotherapy pool, enables the Maffra animal healthcare facility to fulfil people’s expectations.

“You go to the hospital, and you wait for blood results for four hours; here, you’ll have them in half an hour,” Mrs Lowe said.

“You go for an ultrasound, you’ll have results next week. Here, you’ll have an ultrasound, and you’ll know what’s the plan straight away.

“We are very much about if there is an issue, that issue will be solved in-house as soon as possible.”

Renovations at the Maffra Gippsland Veterinary Hospital have not only allowed the staff to provide clients with unmatched animal health care, whether that be general check-ups, vaccinations, dental services, surgery, or emergency care, but they have also greatly benefited the community in Maffra and the surrounding area.

The Maffra Gippsland Veterinary Hospital has hired eight new veterinarians in the past year, bringing the total number of employees to more than 55, with all 35 support staff from the local community.

“What has come into the community has been considerable,” Mrs Lowe said.

“A lot of our new vets, who have come from interstate and overseas, have purchased properties in the local area,” Dr Snell said.

Maffra Gippsland Veterinary Hospital is one of the few clinics in Australia unscathed by the current vet shortage, boasting a full-staffing roster with a total of 15 veterinarians and still growing.

Dr Snell believes the clinic’s success is a testament to the Maffra and surrounding community.

“We’ve got a really welcoming community that just embraces new vets and new nurses to town, get them involved in sporting clubs,” she said.

“Plus the environment we live in – the beaches, the rivers; if there is an interest they have, there is generally something within our local environment that fills that.

“Housing prices are generally affordable; like I said, most of our vets now own houses within the district. Thanks to that, we’ve got a really happy team that is backing the trend.”

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