Knowing all of our options provides pets with the best veterinary care available. However, seeing a specialty veterinarian can be a rarity. Following are stories from people with pets who have benefited from collaborative care between primary care veterinarians and specialists.
“The experience I had in referring clients to specialists during my several decades in private companion animal practice reinforced to me the importance of a strong and trusting relationship between a “generalist” practice and the members of the specialty community in the area. Our practice was fortunate to have several multi-specialty practices in the Detroit metro area and we were able to match the needs of our clients and their pets with the customer service and medical-surgical expertise offered at the practices. We thought of ourselves as the triage point and chose the referral with care. I cannot recall a single time when our recommendation to seek specialty care was not welcomed by our clients (regardless of the final outcome.) They knew we were making this recommendation as the best possible care for their pet. We were fortunate to have choices in the advanced care we suggested to our pet owners and cannot imagine practicing without these options.”Mary Beth Leininger, DVM
I would like to take this opportunity to share my experience and the importance of co-managed veterinary care for your pets. As a show breeder of Champion Sired Labrador Retrievers for over thirty years, I have had many positive experiences with my general practitioner veterinarian and their professional relationships with veterinarian specialists. This combined approach to animal healthcare includes the referral to DVM specialists with the latest advancements in veterinary care.
Some of my experiences include successful exploratory emergency surgery at 2:00am to remove a ball of horse hair that caused a severe stomach blockage, cardiac surgery with the successful placement of a pacemaker that saved one of our pets lives, (where the cardiac team came into The Hope Center very early on a Saturday morning lead by Dr. Bonnie Lefbom). Additionally, Dr. Elsa Beck, our expert oncologist, currently treats one of our dogs for epitheliotropic lymphoma. Typically this diagnosis is a 3-6 months lifespan, yet he is still with us two years later since the onset. Again the referral to the veterinary oncologist was through one of our general practitioner veterinarians that are involved in the co-management of his care. This process has added great value to our pet’s treatment and prognosis.
The co-managed care experience provided by the veterinarians has been a superb experience with excellent results. I know these specialists practice their medical knowledge with the perseverance and dedication to do everything to help both your pet, and you the owner. I am so thankful to our specialists, and my regular veterinarian who said this is where you go for help that is beyond our capability.
Co-managed veterinary care is an opportunity that you take advantage of, as these specialists have cared for our pets as if they were their own. The result is a group of doctors working together as a team that are the healthcare advocates for your pet.Bill Batleman
I was the proud owner of a wonderful yellow lab named Tucker. She was a joyful and courageous spirit who confronted life with exuberance, and her eventual cancer with a stubborn indignant determination to survive. She had the will to beat the odds and I wanted to make sure I gave her every option to fight for as long as she chose to do battle. Her mast cell tumor was first detected in 2008 by her general veterinarian. He immediately recommended we include an oncologist in Tucker’s care. I learned of an oncologist in NY who was heavily involved in research oncology and who was lecturing around the country on mast cell tumor. We met, and he immediately became a part of Tucker’s team.
We had a very successful partnership for years that way, but ultimately, Tucker’s team would need to be expanded. In 2011, Tucker developed laryngeal paralysis. A surgeon and a veterinarian trained in complementary therapies came aboard. Finally, the palliative and hospice team was called on to help provide the care Tucker needed in his final days.
Time and again, Tucker beat the odds and found her way back to a quality life. In fact she survived over a year, passing just before her 14th birthday. My story is an anomaly, few clients benefit from such a collaborative effort by doctors to work together to support a shared patient. I hope that the future of the veterinary field can make my experience the norm instead of the exception. Having an integrated team of general and specialty practitioners available to support our pets through the health challenges they face in life is both empowering and comforting. Her diverse team of extraordinary medical generalists and specialists allowed me to feel at peace that I had given Tucker every opportunity for survival for as long as she chose to fight.Barbara Urquhart
“My experience is very similar to several of the other testimonials that have been written regarding the successful working relationship that is possible between general practice and specialty medicine. I am an owner and manager of a very large general practice. We have many associate veterinarians, all with varied interests and experience. We practice medicine at a high level, but we know that the best medical treatment, can often require the assistance of another individual or group of individuals that has a different skill set and access to equipment that we do not have. The ability to work closely with our local group of specialists not only allows us to practice better medicine, but we improve the bond that we have with our client base. Our clients are well educated and informed, and they expect that we are honest with them when we feel that a case is best to be handled at a referral hospital or when we have the expertise to handle it in house. It is our belief that working with our local specialists is critical to practicing successfully and ethically as the field of veterinary medicine has evolved and become more complex. There are advances in medicine and surgery all of the time, far more than any one person can keep up with. We work together as a team with our local specialty group, and both of our businesses have grown over the years because that relationship is successful.“Brian Maxwell, DVM
“I’ve been in general practice in Southern California for more than 30 years. As a partner in a busy 9 doctor practice we see more than our share of complex cases. The complexities of medicine mean that no one person, can have all of the answers and the means to implement them for every case. Fortunately, the length of time I’ve been in practice as allowed me to witness both specialty practice and general practice evolve into relationships that ultimately benefit our patients. The triad of client, general practitioner and specialist all depend on communication and trust. As a group, our practice has worked hard with our clients to make sure they realize that when a recommendation is made for referral, it is with their pet’s best interest in mind. One of the key components in this triad, is the relationships with specialists that I’ve developed over the years. The keystone in this relationship. Communication. Those of us who live in Southern California blessed with outstanding specialists who not only are terrific at what they do, but are great communicators as well. This communication fosters my learning, and my continued involvement and allows that feeling of team. There is no question our practice quality improves by our relationship with our area specialists.”Dennis Voorheis, DVM
“After my internship and residency in the 70’s I pursued a general practice career. I have worked for others but the last 18 years have had my own practice. I work very closely with the specialists and am extremely comfortable with our relationship. Having the ability to tell my clients I will communicate with a specialist adds additional trust that they realize we can provide an unparalleled level of care. If I refer my patients I can expect the same. It has been said that people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. This triad of care between myself, my client and their pet, and the specialist teams I work with simply put raises the bar on veterinary care.“Jeff Weitz, DVM
“Although I am a specialist in small animal internal medicine I own a general practice so I am really a primary care veterinarian. In this capacity I am uniquely aware of the benefits of the relationships between clients and their pets, the primary care veterinarian and the specialist. I have two associates, one who is board-certified in canine and feline practice and one certified on veterinary acupuncture. This level of expertise, and the equipment we have, allows us to practice high level and high quality veterinary medicine. Yet there are areas of expertise and patient care for which we need the services of other specialists. Complicated surgeries, ophthalmology, oncology, neurology and critical care are some of the areas where we and our clients collaborate with local specialists in several specialty and referral centers. Additionally these centers have advanced equipment such as CT scans, MRI scans and radiation therapy which a general practice usually cannot have. Our clients and their beloved pets truly appreciate it when we they are informed that we need to refer them for care above and beyond what we are capable of providing. The pet owner, primary care vet and specialist work as a team to provide the best possible care for their pet. This relationship is of paramount importance.”Martin Randell, DVM, DACVIM
“In the Silicon Valley we are very fortunate to have close access to several outstanding veterinary specialists. Since l984, our small animal practice has watched the change in veterinary medicine from the general practitioner “doing it all” to now having the ability to partner with our local veterinary specialists to offer and provide the highest level of veterinary care and service to our patients and their owners. As the primary care veterinarian, our mission is to provide wellness services to our patients by working together with the families, and when a given case requires secondary care, we then add on our local veterinary specialists as part of the team.
As the primary care provider, our clients trust us to decide when to refer to our local veterinary specialists. For us, it is important that our clients and their family pets continue to receive the same level of compassion, care and communication during the referral process. Our local veterinary specialists make this easy for our clients by providing appointments in a timely manner, and by communicating daily with us about the progress of our patients. Often, clients still need our advice and support during this time period and by acting as a team, we work together for our patients and for the families.
The level of expertise at our local veterinary specialty group is really beyond secondary care and we often describe them as a scaled-down veterinary medical school hospital. However, what has made this group successful is their effort to develop a working relationship with us by being readily available for phone consultations and by always accepting our referrals in a quick and positive manner. It is always comforting for our clients to know that we have already discussed the case with the specialist and that they will be taken care of personally. As primary care veterinarians, we view our local veterinary specialists as an extension of our practice and we entrust our patients to them.“The Veterinarians at Evergreen Veterinary Clinic
“I have been a general practitioner and partner in a small animal general practice in Los Angeles for 25 years. In that time I have seen many changes. One big change is the number and availability of specialists. I feel very spoiled living in Los Angeles in that I have many choices. I know my clients, patients, and I have benefited from these relationships and services. There is definitely a team approach to tackling difficult cases that require advanced diagnostics and the specific expertise of a specialist. Along the way I learn to do additional procedures and frequently these facilities offer some form of CE. I believe the key is in cultivating these relationships so that there is good communication, a team approach, and everyone benefits, most notably the patients! In fact I am certain that regularly collaborating with specialists has helped our practice continue to grow, even during the recession. We saw more word-of-mouth new clients during that time frame and take that as validation that we are doing the right thing.”Dean E. Gebroe, DVM