FIFTEEN-year-old beagle Beans is enjoying being back home with her family at Ninderry after surviving a double tick bite and spending more than a week in intensive care at the Sunshine Coast Animal Emergency Service, which opens a new hospital in Noosa this weekend.
It was a harrowing experience for owner Colleen Bichel, who rushed her beloved pet to the emergency hospital after finding a paralysis tick on her at home.
"When I found the tick on Beans, she was already vomiting and having trouble walking," she said.
"I got to the Tanawha clinic within 30 minutes and she was already a lot sicker by then."
Although treatment was started straight away, Beans was already having respiratory difficulty and, in consultation with Ms Bichel, the decision was made to put her on life-saving mechanical ventilation.
"In tick cases, one of the problems is respiratory failure and in advanced cases the patient may need life support," Sunshine Coast AES director Dr Matt Rosen said.
"Beans required 24-hour intensive care, she was put into an induced coma and connected to a ventilator.
"Beans is a great example of a successful case. She was maintained on the ventilator with around-the- clock care from our expert staff for four days. She underwent a tracheostomy procedure to help her breathe comfortably after she came off the ventilator and went home to mum a few days later.
"Beans is definitely a fighter because a second tick was found by our staff while she was in hospital. That hampered her recovery time a little, she required further ventilation but Colleen was absolutely super throughout it all.
"She understood what we had to do. Even though there were times she wasn't sure why we were doing certain things, she fully entrusted us with Beans' care because she knew that we were doing our best to get her pet back home and that paid off."
It's the success of cases like this that has driven Dr Rosen and his fellow AES directors to make the decision to expand their services to include a second Sunshine Coast emergency
practice at Noosa, which opened its doors for the first time last week.
"AES has been in existence for 10 years. We expanded our services to the Sunshine Coast in February 2014 because we wanted to provide essential emergency and critical care medicine to the entire south-east coast of Queensland," Dr Rosen said.
"The Sunshine Coast is a very large demographic and although the population compares with somewhere like the Gold Coast, we don't have the same population density, it's very spread out.
"To get from one end of the Coast to the other you're probably looking at close to an hour and that can be the difference of an animal surviving an emergency."
Dr Rosen said he wanted to provide an emergency service at both ends of the Coast to give people access to the service without having to drive a considerable way.
With the opening of Noosa, AES will provide after-hours emergency vet service for not only people on the Sunshine Coast but from Caboolture in the south and north through to Gympie.
"Our aim is to provide the best emergency medicine and critical care based on what the current research and recommendations are," Dr Rosen said.
"Dr Rob Webster is one of the AES directors but he's also the only specialist in emergency medicine and critical care in Queensland.
"He is guiding us in providing that gold standard of specialised care for our patients.
"We are extremely focused and passionate about emergency and critical care - it's what we live for. Our vets aren't here part-time, they are employed as emergency vets and supported with a well-qualified and dedicated nursing team, so we are highly committed in this field of medicine."
The team at Noosa Animal Emergency Service will provide the same comprehensive services already on offer at Tanawha's Sunshine Coast AES, with Dr Rosen saying owners could be assured their pets were being given the best possible care while their regular vet was unavailable.
"We're fully staffed, we don't go home. There's always someone looking after their animal, so owners can rest easy," he said.
"We're not just here after hours and it's not just Band-Aid treatment, we're here to find a diagnosis and start treatment. We then liaise with the client's regular vet to continue longer-term treatment. We are also doing a lot of critical care work like blood transfusions and life support via a ventilator. Not every general practice has access to these services, so we offer a lot more critical care services than most daytime veterinary practices.
"We also put our staff through advanced training. We have expert and intensive care staff who can be with a patient 24 hours a day if required and that alone is something other vets on the Sunshine Coast cannot provide."
Noosa Animal Emergency Service is located at 43 Rene St, Noosaville and from October 1 will open every weeknight from 5.30-8am and 24 hours over the weekend - from 5.30pm Friday night until 8am Monday morning as well as every public holiday. Phone 5430 6900.
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