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Prairie Village Pet Hospital

From Routine to Extreme, We'll Be There for You!

2020 has been a year of great uncertainty, at least that’s what we’re all hearing and feeling. One certainty that hasn’t changed is the love and support that people’s pets provide, especially during times of unanticipated change. In March, when the pandemic became a real threat in the United States, I received a phone call from a nurse on the frontline. She was actively testing people with signs of COVID-19 and had concerns about exposing her pets to the virus. It became evident as we continued to talk about precautions that the health of her pets seemed more important than her own. It made me wonder what drives the level of compassion we have for companion animals and how it’s changed the way we practice veterinary medicine. For many people, pets are the only living being that will happily greet them and provide love day in and day out. Considering all that they bring to our lives, it’s debatable if the essential nature of pets outranks food, booze or money. One thing I knew is we had work to do and we had to figure out how to continue to serve our clients.

We had to change our business model to minimize staff exposure to the coronavirus and maximize the probability of staying open. Clients were no longer allowed in the building, we offered telemedicine services and provided curbside care. We also protected ourselves by splitting the doctors and support staff into two independent part-time shifts and still provided normal salaries for everyone! 

There were a few things we weren’t initially prepared for. The first was how often the phone would ring and the second was how many new clients called us because their veterinary provider couldn’t see them for two or three weeks! Problems such as ear infections, broken toe nails and emesis must be addressed the day they present themselves or risk becoming emergencies. I suspect that when the governor permitted veterinary clinics to continue providing routine, non -emergency care, others tried to catch up on the backlog of nonessential appointments without allotting time for urgent visits that we see on a daily basis.

Routine care, which includes things like vaccinations, dentistry, spays and neuters, has always been the backbone of our business since we opened in 1984. Thirty years ago veterinarians had to respond to emergencies with their training and experience alone. But just as with human medicine, general practice veterinarians increasingly rely on specialists to help improve patients’ outcomes. With the advent of the internet we can send information to radiologists, cardiologists, dermatologists and neurologists throughout the world. With their guidance we are better prepared to take on more complex medical and surgical cases.

One piece of equipment that has really helped elevate the level of our urgent care is the ultrasound. Several years ago I purchased a unique ultrasound machine designed to train the staff to capture all the necessary images required for boarded radiologists to accurately assess, interpret and guide us in making more reliable medical decisions. Most images can be evaluated in less than 24 hours and have become a service we rely on especially when determining if surgery is necessary, or cancer is present, or what’s inside a body when regular X-rays only provide a cloudy picture.

Complex cases take more time. We tailor our appointment times so our clients and their pets can be comprehensively cared for. We reserve time in our schedule to accommodate urgent visits and arrange drop-offs that work with our clients’ schedules as well. Ninety percent of our communication with the clients during the pandemic is over the phone, which means you need more time to provide quality care. Because we are a locally owned, independent practice, we have the ability to adjust our scheduling to continue to provide the highest standard of care, a core value we embrace and uphold.

We’re also seeing an uptick in new puppies! People are home and have time to teach proper house-training and socialization. Breeders usually want puppies vet checked and tested for internal parasites within a week of purchase. I consider the first 20 weeks of puppyhood critical in training appropriate behaviors. Come see us for advice on training, nutrition and care of your newfound friend.

Although I must limit the amount of time I personally spend on the phone with clients, forming and preserving long-standing bonds with you and your pets is paramount to me. The staff at Prairie Village Pet Hospital are back to their full-time schedules and will do all they can to keep your pets’ lives happy and healthy during and after COVID-19. We appreciate your support and look forward to seeing you face to face in the clinic soon!

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