A NEW state-of-the-art veterinary hospital, which was completely devastated by Storm Dennis, is set to re-open for emergency cases during the global health crisis.
Valley Veterinary Hospital in Gwaelod y Garth, near Cardiff, will re-open its 24-hour emergency service from Monday, with strict social distancing guidelines from the profession’s governing body, the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), in place.
The hospital is preparing to become a central hub to deal with emergency cases if practices in the area are forced to shut due to coronavirus.
It comes two months after two vets and three veterinary nurses, along with 16 in-patients, had to be evacuated after the hospital was left under five-feet of flood water when the River Taff burst its banks shortly at 3am on Sunday, February 16.
The hospital’s out-of-hours team quickly moved all in-patients upstairs as the river started rising to unprecedented levels. No one was hurt and all pets and team members were safely evacuated by members of the South Wales Fire & Rescue Service.
Valley Veterinary Hospital opened only nine months ago after an empty warehouse was transformed into a £2million pet hospital – the most high-tech facility of its kind in Wales.
The team was left distraught after a raging torrent of water flooded the new hospital. Equipment valued at several hundred thousand pounds, including a CT scanner, digital x-ray machines, ultrasounds, oxygen generator, lab equipment, dental machines and endoscopes were all destroyed in the carnage, caused by a month’s worth of rain falling in less than 48 hours.
The ground floor was left under a thick layer of mud and silt, and the entire building had to be professionally deep-cleaned and sterilised, before builders stripped it back to bare concrete and metal, before construction work could get underway.
Now, new operating theatres, procedure areas, two prep areas and kennels have been created on the first floor, while a new £150,000 CT scanner will be installed in June to replace the one that was destroyed.
The hospital’s emergency service, Valley 24/7, which takes emergency cases from veterinary practices across South Wales reopens on Monday, and the Valley Veterinary Hospital team will also be able to deal with urgent cases.
Work is continuing on the ground floor, and it is hoped the entire hospital will be fully functional in September.
The work has been overseen by hospital managers Chris Butler and Claire Ashworth, pictured, while construction firm, EDS Ltd, which converted the original building, carried out construction and refurbishment work.
Mr Butler said: “It has been a major operation between the whole Valley Vets team, and the building team has worked wonders in a short space of time. It was unbelievable how much damage was done, and it was completely devastating after all the effort that went in to building the new hospital.
“Everything has felt very bleak with the coronavirus pandemic but the re-opening of the hospital has given us a focus. Practices locally are starting to close as we reach the peak of the pandemic, so we are going to be increasingly relied upon by colleagues in the veterinary profession and pet owners.
“Once we’re back in the building, we can socially distance because it is a brand new, spacious building, and it will lift morale as everyone is stressed and worried about what’s happening.”
EDS Ltd Director Steve Phillips said: “The flood was devastating for the Valley Veterinary Hospital team, and we were shocked at the power and destruction of the flood water. We’re delighted that, in the space of four weeks, we have them back and working with the top floor all re-designed to accommodate the loss of the ground floor.”
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