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Illinois veterinarians volunteer to step up in coronavirus fight to treat humans in hospitals

Hundreds of veterinarians in Illinois have joined a statewide recruitment drive for extra medical support in combating Covid-19 and could soon be helping to save human lives.

Several hundred veterinarians and clinicians in the state of Illinois heeded the call for more trained medical professionals to shore up woefully lacking numbers needed in beating coronavirus in humans.

Those who signed on could soon be offering their medical training to help humans suffering in hospitals with the deadly virus, instead of their day job working with animals. 

The legions of veterinarians now on board answered a call put out in a letter by the University of Illinois’ new ‘Covid-19 Support Network of Illinois Veterinarians’.

Those who have enlisted to help in human hospitals have sought to reassure pet owners their new role will not be to the detriment of their beloved pets.   

An example of a vet seen here working with a sedated big cat at a zoo. Some of those recruited may also be coming from zoos and farms

An example of a vet seen here working with a sedated big cat at a zoo. Some of those recruited may also be coming from zoos and farms

An example of a vet seen here working with a sedated big cat at a zoo. Some of those recruited may also be coming from zoos and farms 

What appears to be the shell of a giant tortoise seen here being given care by Illinois vets

What appears to be the shell of a giant tortoise seen here being given care by Illinois vets

What appears to be the shell of a giant tortoise seen here being given care by Illinois vets 

Some of the equipment and operating rooms used by vets are eminently usable in human cases

Some of the equipment and operating rooms used by vets are eminently usable in human cases

Some of the equipment and operating rooms used by vets are eminently usable in human cases

Elaine Holmes, veterinary surgeon with MedVet Chicago, seen here talking to ABC 7 News

Elaine Holmes, veterinary surgeon with MedVet Chicago, seen here talking to ABC 7 News

Elaine Holmes, veterinary surgeon with MedVet Chicago, seen here talking to ABC 7 News

‘We are trained as medical professionals and we triage patients every day, they can’t exactly tell us what’s wrong,’ said Elaine Holmes, veterinary surgeon with MedVet Chicago, talking to ABC 7 News. 

‘But we’re very happy to stand alongside our human health allies and be directed to wherever we need to be.’

The recruitment drive is part of a ‘worst case scenario’ plan to support the great many US hospitals currently battling rising numbers of people infected and suffering with Covid-19.

While the veterinarians will not directly replace ‘human doctors’ in hospitals, they will be on hand to provide technical support while under supervision.

Many veterinarians will be able to offer vital medical equipment like ventilators and operating rooms which are deemed suitable for human treatment also. Even zoo workers can be of service.

‘Our ventilator, for instance, is a human ventilator; our high-flow oxygen is for humans; our operating rooms are human-standard operating rooms,’ added Holmes.

‘The vast majority of the pieces of technology that we use actually initially were made for the human healthcare side,’ she said. 

An Illinois state veterinarian seen here 'scrubbing up' in one of the possible operating rooms

An Illinois state veterinarian seen here 'scrubbing up' in one of the possible operating rooms

An Illinois state veterinarian seen here ‘scrubbing up’ in one of the possible operating rooms

An example here of a doctor working on a patient, while vets could in theory be on hand to lend support

An example here of a doctor working on a patient, while vets could in theory be on hand to lend support

An example here of a doctor working on a patient, while vets could in theory be on hand to lend support

Stephanie Keating, who is a veterinarian at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine, said veterinarians are anticipating what could be necessary should the US healthcare system be overwhelmed.

‘If we’re imagining worst case scenario, and just need to plan for that,’ she added. 

Doctor Sunit Singla, who is a critical care pulmonologist specializing in diseases involving the respiratory tract at UI Health, said many of the machines currently being used by vets are ‘human ventilators that have just been taken out of circulation and refurbished for veterinary use’.

‘They may be exactly the same as the human ventilators that we have in a hospital, or they might be older models that could certainly be used,’ he added.

Doctor Sunit Singla seen here talking to ABC 7 News about the veterinarian volunteer drive

Doctor Sunit Singla seen here talking to ABC 7 News about the veterinarian volunteer drive

 Doctor Sunit Singla seen here talking to ABC 7 News about the veterinarian volunteer drive

Illinois state authorities reinforced the call for extra medical support from veterinarians, directing those who can be of service to the volunteer website called ‘Illinois Helps’.

‘Veterinarians are one of the occupations listed in Illinois Helps for which people can register,’ they said in a statement.

Illinois Helps works to prioritize occupations that could be useful in fighting Covid-19, by performing government-stipulated licensing and background checks.  

Speaking about the recruitment drive and the threat of Covid-19, MedVet veterinarian Elaine Holmes added: ‘I’m nervous for sure a little bit, but I also feel like I’m capable and we really need capable and compassionate people.’  

The US is now the world leader in coronavirus cases, with 245,356 people infected, and 6,056 deaths. 

These figures represent roughly a quarter of the world total which is now more than 1 million registered cases of Covid-19, and more than 53,000 deaths. Over 212,000 have since recovered. 

 

Source: dailymail US

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