Superb care for both local and travelling pets at Nanaimo’s Central Island Veterinary Emergency Hospital

Central Island Veterinary Emergency HospitalWe are moving a little out of our normal genre this week, with the thought that many of our readers probably travel with their pets at some time or another. I can say from personal experience that there are few things more terrifying than having a beloved animal who is unwell or has suffered some sort of trauma, and not knowing where the nearest veterinarian is. This is an especially scary situation at times when things go sideways with an animal when vet clinics are closed – statutory holidays, evenings, weekends, early morning, or middle-of-the-night emergencies. So this week, a feature about a marvellous clinic that is open 365 days a year, 24 hours a day.

Reception are at Central Island Veterinary Emergency Hospital

The front reception area at Central Island Veterinary Emergency Hospital is spacious and bright, and makes you feel better as soon as you walk through the door.

Central Island Veterinary Emergency Hospital is the only 365-24/7 veterinary clinic on ‘Vancouver Island, beyond Victoria’.  In addition to emergency service the clinic also offers regular routine appointments and specialized veterinary care, as well as referrals, to those who may have pets but don’t already have a vet of choice in their community. The emergency clinic  is very conveniently located just off Highway 19 in the heart of Nanaimo’s sprawling commercial area, so it is easy to find for those unfamiliar with the Island.

            The clinic is a light, bright and meticulously clean (in fact, much cleaner than many hospitals I have been in)  4,250 square feet of well-organized space planned to accommodate pretty much any situation that may arise with the care of an animal.  There is a fully-equipped surgery and a dental suite, digital X-ray facilities, treatment area, cat and dog wards, ICU, an isolation ward, four examination rooms, an emergency ‘triage’ room and ultrasound.

Treatment area at Central Island Veterinary Emergency Hospital

The treatment area at the clinic allows for efficient care and round-the-clock observation of ill pets. Rather than being contained in stainless kennels compliant dogs are often securely tethered at various locations in this area, with lots of bedding for better comfort and observation (and easier cuddling from both owners and staff)

            In addition to all the state-of-the-art equipment and design there is always a minimum of one veterinarian and a nurse on site – 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. For me, that level of staffing – and in this particular case, the staff members themselves – are what truly make this place.

            Dr. Karen Karsten is the go-getter sole owner of the clinic who, after four months of what can be considered little less than slave labour in tandem with her husband Kevin, opened the clinic on June 30, 2011.  Dr. Karsten and her husband personally did almost all of the renovations required to get the building up to top-flight vet clinic standards. They spent long, long days demolishing the previous business layout, cutting concrete, laying drains, framing walls, running computer networks and installing tile floor throughout the entire building. The result is a spacious and welcoming facility that makes you feel better the minute you walk through the door.

Kennel area, Central Island Veterinary Emergency Hospital

The dog and cat ‘wards’ are each set up with state-of-the-art equipment

As I mentioned earlier, however, it is the staff members that really are the most impressive part of this operation.  In the 40 years that I have owned, bred and exhibited Irish Setters I have had dealings with many, many vets and clinics. I have never experienced the level of dedicated service, care, compassion and downright good judgement that we have received during our multiple encounters with Dr. Karsten and the vets, nurses, assistants and receptionists at Central Island Veterinary Emergency Hospital.  They are universally bright, caring and on-the-ball and routinely go above and beyond the call of duty. They never hesitate to consult with specialists when a situation calls for that, and they are always efficient in providing cost estimates and alternatives. There is a lot to be said for all of that any time you have an animal in crisis, but most especially if you are away from home.

            Central Island Veterinary Emergency Hospital is located at 6550 Metral Drive in Nanaimo, just across from Home Depot and kind-of kitty corner from the Woodgrove Shopping Centre.

            Further information on the clinic can be obtained at the website:


wheelchair-mGPS co-ordinates are:

Lat.  49.23345529828431  Long. -124.04804438352585

N 49 14.007  W 124 02.883


About Shirley

More years ago than I like to remember, I completed the Journalism program at Vancouver Community College and launched straight into a career as a newspaper reporter (thanks to my journalism professor Nick Russell and an opening at the venerable daily Alberni Valley Times.) My work as a news reporter/feature writer/columnist and ultimately, newspaper and magazine editor, took me to many interesting places and introduced me to hundreds of interesting characters over the years. I loved every minute of it, but burnout caught up with me while I was trying to juggle the simultaneous editing of five trade magazines, and for 27 years I abandoned my keyboard (on a professional basis, at least) and followed my heart in a variety of other careers. In 2010 I returned to the journalistic fold, thanks to the encouragement (nay – nagging!) of my husband. I feel no regret – only great joy to be back at the keyboard, and to be spending time interviewing interesting folks and discovering great places.
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