It Doesn’t Get Any Better Than This!

My career in veterinary medicine began about 12 years ago when I took a part-time job as a kennel assistant during my freshman year as an undergraduate. Since then I have worked with over 20 veterinarians in 8 different veterinary hospitals –  from Southern and Northern California, Washington to Minnesota and New York. From small animal general practices to the “Ivory Tower” of veterinary hospitals, the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine Teaching hospital. I suppose it would suffice to say that I have experienced the “good, the bad and the ugly” of veterinary medicine.  I have witnessed things done “right” and things done “wrong” and the consequences of each for both client and patient. To the average person, it may not always be clear what distinguishes a “good” versus a “bad” veterinary hospital. Unfortunately, I have seen clients thatwant nothing more than the best treatment for their pet who unknowingly receive less than ideal care.
     As tough as it has been at times, I am grateful for these experiences as they have allowed me to understand what it takes to practice high-quality veterinary medicine. That knowledge led me to my current position as associate veterinarian here at Arroyo Veterinary Hospital. As a member of Arroyo, I proudly and with no hesitation, stand behind the level of care and compassion we provide to our patients. Each patient is handled with the utmost care and respect, as if they were a member of our own family. This is something that is unquestionably shared by every member of the Arroyo staff. Over the past several months I have watched and admired the amazing work ethic and dedication of each person and would, without hesitation, entrust the life of my own pets to any one of them. The level of medicine is superb and I feel that every client is given the opportunity to determine the best medical plan for both themselves and their beloved pets.

     So what defines a good or great veterinary hospital? As an example, let me explain Arroyo’s typical protocol for patients undergoing anesthesia, such as a routine spay or mass removal.

     The morning your pet is dropped off for surgery you are provided with an itemized treatment plan for the procedure. You are given the option, and strongly encouraged, to allow us to perform pre-anesthetic blood work on your pet. This blood work provides information on internal organ function, a complete blood count and helps us select the safest and most appropriate anesthetic for each pet. Pre-anesthetic blood work is important even in very young, apparently healthy patients and there are many times it has caught early, underlying disease such as congenital or inherited defects. After your pet is admitted to the hospital, a pre-anesthetic examination is performed. Each pet is examined from head to toe on the day of the procedure. The eyes, ears, teeth, gums, heart, lungs, skin, lymph nodes, abdomen and musculoskeletal system are all evaluated. Once it is determined that a patient is “ok” for anesthesia, a pre-medication is given to help reduce stress and anxiety as well as to start the pain management process. An intravenous catheter is placed in every patient, no matter what, which allows the administration of fluids during the procedure while providing a port for emergency medications if needed. Providing fluids during the procedure helps to maintain hydration, blood pressure and organ function, which allows the patient to recover more quickly and comfortably following the procedure. While under anesthesia the heart rate, respiratory rate, oxygen saturation, blood pressure, body temperature and EKG measurements are closely monitored. Once the procedure is complete and the patient is awake, they are very closely monitored and much attention is paid to comfort and pain control.

     This level of attention to detail and commitment to patient care is why I am proud to call Arroyo my place of employment. I cannot express how good it feels to be back in my home state and working exactly where I want to be. And just in case you didn’t know, Arroyo is also AAHA accredited (which means we must adhere to a certain standard of care) and staff meetings are also held every other Tuesday to discuss ways to improve and provide even better care to our clients and patients (this is about ten times more than most clinics I have worked at). Finally, we have a wonderful board-certified internal medicine specialist and ultrasonographer, Dr. Moeller, at our disposal every week as well as the highly experienced board certified surgeon, Dr. Gurevitch. Let me tell you, it doesn’t get any better than this!

Dr. Melissa Erickson