Practitioner Updates

Tiered System of ER Service During COVID Spike

To Our Referring Veterinarians:

In response to the spike in community COVID-19 cases and the quarantine of hospital employees with potential exposure, the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital has implemented a tiered system (described below) so we can better triage emergency and critical care patients.

We are currently putting Level 2 protocols into effect for our Small Animal Emergency and Critical Care Service. That service is unable to accommodate its usual number of emergency cases.

At present, all other services are accepting cases, though schedule availability may be several weeks out.

You do not need prior approval to refer a patient to our hospital, but we do require that you call in advance to discuss the case to ensure that we can meet your client’s expectations. We are also available at any time for consultation calls from our referring veterinary partners.

Please contact us at 217-333-5311 with referrals, consultations, or any other questions.

We appreciate your understanding and assistance, and we hope that we can resume operations at our normal capacity soon.


Julia Whittington, DVM
Director, Veterinary Teaching Hospital

Faculty Members
Small Animal Emergency/Critical Care Service

Hospital Tiered Service Approach for ER/ECC During Pandemic

Level 1: The Small Animal Clinic ER/ECC service is operating normally. 

  • Critically ill patients will take priority over stable patients, but all patients are expected to be seen.
  • Once seen, owners with stable patients may be told to make the next available appointment with the appropriate specialty service.

Level 2: Patients presenting for chronic illness will not be seen.

  • Acute manifestations of chronic disease will be seen (e.g., AoCKD, relapsed IMHA, etc.)
  • Patients presenting for minor complaints or whose care could be postponed for a visit with their primary care veterinarian the following day (e.g., diarrhea, UTI) will be seen but will likely have a substantial wait time.
  • Only emergent cases will be transferred to our specialty services from ER; stable patients requiring specialty care will be sent home and scheduled with the specialist as appointments are available.

Level 3: Only cases that would die or suffer significant morbidity will be seen.

  • “Significant morbidity” in this context means that if the patient is not seen that day, their condition is expected to or has the potential to worsen significantly by the following day. Examples include toxicosis, myelopathies, bite wounds, etc.

Level 4: Only true life-threatening conditions will be seen.

  • At this level, the emergency service will be closed to all emergencies unless the patient is expected to die without being seen.
  • Cases that will be seen include GDV, sepsis, CHF, urinary obstructions, collapse, respiratory distress, etc.