The year at the hospital
The Veterinary Teaching Hospital examines animal patients and carries out veterinary education and research all day, every day. Students pursuing a licentiate degree in veterinary medicine work at the hospital to obtain the necessary clinical skills and put their theoretical learning into practice. The patients also provide an important basis for clinical veterinary research. The Veterinary Teaching Hospital comprises the Viikki Small Animal Hospital and Equine Hospital, as well as the Production Animal Hospital in Mäntsälä. The Veterinary Teaching Hospital is also part of the national veterinary services: the Small Animal Hospital and Equine Hospital serve as the municipal emergency veterinary service for the municipalities of the Helsinki Metropolitan Area, while the Production Animal Hospital serves as the municipal veterinary service provider for several municipalities in its catchment area. The Equine Hospital is the only one of its kind in Finland providing round-the-clock on-call services.
As for everyone else, the year 2020 at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital was strongly marked by the Covid-19 pandemic that is testing the world. The hospital has important societal duties, for which it is also responsible in times of crisis. Its teaching, research and on-call operations must continue even in the middle of a pandemic, through special arrangements if necessary.
We must take off our hats to and sincerely thank both our customers and staff, as well as our students, for making it through the year so well.
Small Animal Hospital
The Small Animal Hospital houses units specialised in surgery, internal medicine and emergency/intensive care. The operations are supported by a diagnostic imaging unit, an anaesthesia unit and physiotherapy services. The Small Animal Hospital also holds a significant role in admitting demanding patients referred to it by veterinarians from all over Finland.
At the Veterinary Teaching Hospital, the exceptional circumstances that began in spring 2020 had the greatest effect on the Small Animal Hospital. The hospital has a large staff, the highest number of students on site and the most daily patients among all of our hospitals. Consequently, the abrupt change made it necessary to carry out a major reorganisation in terms of both teaching and patient care at the Small Animal Hospital. To ensure the safety of our customers, staff and students, the occupancy limits of facilities were reduced, social distancing was observed and the use of protective equipment was promoted.
Due to the special circumstances and arrangements, patient numbers lagged a little behind the previous year: in 2020 the Small Animal Hospital treated a total of 19,286 patients (20,455 in 2019).
The Equine Hospital is important to the entire Finnish equine community, as it is the only institution in the country providing hospital-level care to horses all day, every day.
In addition to the Covid-19 pandemic, everyday life at the Equine Hospital was affected by the prevention of MRSA and other hospital-associated bacteria. The work continued in spite of the exceptional circumstances under the direction of the infection control nurse of the Veterinary Teaching Hospital. The bacteria had been brought well under control in 2020 before they once again reared their head late in the year.
However, the Equine Hospital served its customers as usual, providing care to almost 3,000 horses.
Production Animal Hospital
The operations of the Production Animal Hospital in the Saari Manor grounds in Mäntsälä continued to be busier than ever, with more than 3,000 farm visits conducted.
The renovation of the hospital proceeded under favourable conditions, and was one of the highlights of the year for the Veterinary Teaching Hospital as a whole. The topping out party was held on 30 January 2020, and the festive opening ceremony was held on 6 October 2020. The new facilities are well suited to admitting both production animals and small animals from the catchment area long into the future.
X-ray equipment to be replaced
Thanks to a significant private donation, a tendering process was launched to replace the X-ray equipment in the Small Animal Hospital and the Equine Hospital. The process will be concluded and the procurement completed in spring 2021.
New qualifications for staff
A pleasing piece of news about staff qualifications was received at the Small Animal Hospital in 2020, as Riitta Seppänen, LVM, successfully completed the international ECVD specialisation programme in veterinary dermatology, becoming one of the few holders of this degree in Finland. Congratulations, Riitta!
At the Equine Hospital, our veterinarian Kati Niinistö completed her doctoral thesis in November 2020, now holding both a specialist degree from the European College of Equine Internal Medicine (ECEIM) and a doctoral degree in veterinary medicine. Congratulations on the doctoral hat, Kati!
Director, Veterinary Teaching Hospital
Faculty of Veterinary Medicine
University of Helsinki