This week we said goodbye to Amanda Blackburn, DVM, DACVIM, one of our amazing internal medicine specialists at ACCESS Specialty Animal Hospital, Los Angeles.
Dr. Blackburn is a California native who grew up in Leona Valley, California and has been with us for over four years. Those who know her have seen her dedication, compassion, and intelligence at work.
However, there’s another side to our beloved doctor… she’s also a triathlete! She loves cycling and even met her now fiancé in a bike race in Italy. We will miss this bicycle riding, jellybean loving, incredible doctor and friend, but we are so happy for the new practice she will work at in San Francisco, because we know Dr. Blackburn will be an amazing addition to their team!
Jana Norris, DVM, DACVS joined our San Fernando Hospital in January 2013 to head up our new surgery department, though her road to veterinary surgery had quite a few twists and turns in it. Jana grew up as a child actor working in theater and received her Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts from USC. After working as an actor for a few years, she literally “woke up one day and didn’t want to do it anymore”. We sat down with Jana to find out what led her to ACCESS Specialty Animal Hospitals.
How did Dr. Norris decide she wanted to work with animals?
When she was acting, her dream was to land a sitcom and make enough money to move to the country and live around animals. Jana decided to cut out the middleman and go right into veterinary school.
What is her favorite animal?
The Octopus. Why? “They can change color depending on their mood, they are the smartest invertebrates, able to learn a task in a single trial and remember it for the rest of their lives, and they can fit through a hole the size of their own eyeball!”
Jana has always been into fixing things and finding out how they work. As a child, she used to like playing with tools, and even took apart the TV and phone, much to her parents’ dismay. She really enjoys “the structural approach to disease”. The chronic, inevitable decline of patients is too emotionally taxing, whereas surgery is repairing the issue at hand. Jana sees surgeons as “the cowboys of the hospital”; they’re able to come in, take a patient, and fix the problem they’re presented with.
What are the most challenging procedures Dr. Norris has ever done?
“Any critical care patient is stressful, because you know that there is a risk that what you’re about to do to help them has the potential to be unsuccessful, but they will not survive without your treatment.”
What is her favorite procedure to do?
Dr. Norris is heavily influenced by her past, enjoying ‘putting things back together’. In her words, her favorite procedures have to be “fracture repair and skin grafting & reconstruction!” The procedures are the same as they are with humans, and Jana enjoys being able to be creative with both art and structure to reestablish form and function with the surgical procedure.
What is her “bread and butter”?
“Cruciates! They are so well researched and such a common injury. We have excellent outcomes with the right approach, and when done correctly, have a 100% success rate.”
Jana lived in California for 17 years before moving to the East Coast. She eventually ended up in Philadelphia, where she worked at the University of Pennsylvania with her then future husband, ACCESS Cardiologist Dr. Steve Cole. She loved California and what it had to offer, so after marrying Dr. Cole in Switzerland and having their reception at the Mutter Museum(!), Jana and her new family moved back to the sunny scenery of California.
Wait… they had their reception at the Mutter Museum?!
They sure did! Dr. Norris has a fondness for things many people would consider…unusual. She has a collection of 40 skulls, both human and animal. The smallest skull she owns is that of a vampire bat, and the largest bone structure is the entire spine of a calf. She even has a fully articulated canine skeleton in her living room! When she was a pre-vet student at Santa Monica College, she supervised a dermestid beetle colony. The dermestid, or carrion, beetles are used to clean bones as they are the most effective tool to clean the bone while also preserving it.
So, she has a skull and bone collection. What else is she into?
Dr. Norris’ home is quite the showcase for out of the ordinary collectibles. In addition to animal and human bones, she also has an array of vintage medical equipment and posters. Her collection includes decades old handheld Oster clippers, speculums, and glass syringes that are seen as pieces of art in her house.
What is her most prized possession?
“My father’s medical kit from the 1940s.” Dr. Norris’ Dad, Dr. Norris, is a Rheumatologist and gave his black doctor’s bag to Jana. Inside you’ll find a stainless steel emergency tracheostomy kit. It’s basically a Swiss Army Knife with tools used to stab, cut, and intubate a choking patient.
What’s her favorite dish?
“Beef tenderloin, rare, with my mom’s white spaghetti”. Dr. Norris also loves to cook and her Rum Cake is her specialty. She makes a ton of them around the holidays, as her family and friends are constantly requesting her delicious dessert!
Dr. Norris is one of over a dozen skilled and interesting doctors at ACCESS Specialty Animal Hospitals, and we are so grateful to have her on our team. She brings a fierce dedication, wealth of knowledge, and passionate enthusiasm to each day she works and is available Tuesday through Friday.
Roscoe is a three year old male terrier mix who was found as a stray. He was hiding in a bush behind a Good Samaritan’s house, where he sought shelter from the cold spring rain. He was scared, hungry, and guarded. After quite some time, though, the homeowner was able to lure Roscoe out from behind the bush and began looking for his original owner.
This proved unsuccessful, and she took Roscoe to the shelter in the hopes that his owners would look there for him. When his time was up at the shelter, it became apparent that no one was coming for Roscoe. The Good Samaritan—Clarice— adopted Roscoe and took him to the neighborhood veterinarian, who detected a very large heart murmur. Clarice and Roscoe were then referred to ACCESS Specialty Animal Hospital in the San Fernando Valley to see Dr. Steve Cole in the cardiology department.
Roscoe was diagnosed with patent ductus ateriosus (PDA), which is a congenital vascular communication between the aorta and pulmonary artery. If left untreated, a PDA can cause severe cardiac enlargement, fluid in the lungs, or high blood pressure. In fact, most dogs with a PDA do not survive the first few years of life.
After presenting Roscoe’s owner with all of the information, she opted for a minimally invasive surgery to correct the PDA. Dr. Cole performed the procedure with Dr. Jason Arndt from ACCESS Specialty Animal Hospital – Los Angeles cardiology department in our interventional radiology suite in Los Angeles, which happens to be the first purpose-built interventional radiology suite for animals on the West Coast! Here, the doctors were able to utilize fluoroscopy and angiography to perform the procedure with minimally invasive tools. This allowed them to see in real time exactly where the necessary catheters were to be placed. A small incision was made on Roscoe’s leg, and from there Dr. Cole and Dr. Arndt were able to close the opening with a small device through the femoral artery. Roscoe recovered well and was discharged from the hospital the next day.
His prognosis is excellent since the device successfully closed the abnormal blood vessel. Roscoe’s family was able to proceed with the surgery with funding from The Big Hearts Fund, a wonderful 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that raises funds and awareness for pets diagnosed with heart disease.
(Top left photo Credit for Roscoe goes to the The Big Hearts Fund.)
Over a dozen pumpkins, a few bales of hay, and a ton of candy helped make another memorable Halloween at our hospitals! We kicked off our Halloween celebrations with a party for our staff and their families at our San Fernando Valley hospital in our conference center. Here, we saw super heroes, witches, and… you guessed it…doctors!
Kids enjoyed painting pumpkins and watching Hocus Pocus, while everyone enjoyed our DIY photo booth, our pot-luck dinner, and of course, lots of candy! We had a ghoulishly good time and enjoyed spending time with one another.
The fun continued with our annual pumpkin carving contest at ACCESS Specialty Animal Hospital – Los Angeles. Each department received one pumpkin to carve into a creepy creation and once it was finished, it was placed in the lobby for staff and clients to vote. Our team had an opportunity to showcase their creativity.
As a result ,we had some amazing entries for the pumpkin carving contest this year! The winner of the 2014 ACCESS Specialty Animal Hospital Pumpkin Carve-Off was…Surgery with 24 votes! With the skilled hand of Dr. Annie Lo, surgery was sure to be fierce competition. We enjoy spending the holidays with fun activities as well as being here to serve our communities 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Having completed veterinary school, an internship, a residency in emergency and critical care, and a written examination with a required publication accepted by peer-reviewed journals, Dr. Lee has achieved board certification. All of this requires years of hard work, long, late hours, and an unyielding commitment to get the job done!
We want to offer hearty congratulations to Joyce Lee, MS, DVM, DACVECC who has been with us since the opening of our San Fernando Valley location. She will continue to be a source of knowledge, positivity, and compassion in our Emergency and Critical Care department.
It’s spooky time again.
But did you know Halloween can be scary for pets? However, with a little planning and information, you and your pets can celebrate safely.
Click on the images below to download our Halloween Pet Safety tips. These ‘free printables’ can be printed with ease! Stick one on your fridge as a reminder, then share them with your friends, at school, or at your place of work.
Be safe and have fun…
This week is Veterinary Technician and Veterinary Assistant week, and we would like to highlight a few of our many inspiring Technicians and Assistants at ACCESS Speciality Animal Hospitals.
Greg Zamora (pictured above with Dr. Rich Mills, Chief of Staff at ACCESS Specialty Animal Hospitals) is the Technician Supervisor and Purchasing Manager for ACCESS Los Angeles. He grew up in Southern California, and followed his first dream of becoming a welder by completing his AWS with LA Certification. He shortly realized that his love for animals would be his passion and jumped all hands in to developing a career in animal care. Starting his new career as a Kennel Assistant, Greg focused on developing his skills and knowledge in the Emergency field.
Greg has been with the ACCESS family since 2003, first working in Tustin, California at ACCIM. He then helped establish the Los Angeles location, working here from day one in 2005. Bringing all that he has learned in the emergency field both as an animal care attendant and equipment/purchasing manager, Greg has continued to be a valued asset as we transitioned to ACCESS Specialty Hospital Group with the successful opening of our Woodland Hills facility. Maintaining strong ties to the veterinary community and dedication to animals, when not at ACCESS – Los Angeles, he can be found working with a mobile orthopedic veterinarian.
This week is Veterinary Technician and Veterinary Assistant week, and we would like to highlight a few of our many inspiring Technicians and Assistants at ACCESS Specialty Animal Hospitals.
Raul Corral is the Technician Supervisor and Purchasing Manager at ACCESS San Fernando Valley. He was raised in Norwalk, California, starting his career as a veterinary assistant at the turn of the millennium in 2000. He attended Cal State Long Beach and majored in Biology. He has been with ACCESS-LA since it opened as ACCIM Los Angeles in 2005, being specially selected to join the team from the sister hospital ACCIM in Tustin.
Serving as an Emergency/Critical Care lead, Raul continued to be a valued member of the ACCESS family and transitioned to ACCESS – San Fernando Valley when it opened in 2012 as the Technician Supervisor and Purchasing Manager. Raul brought with him ACCESS’s commitment to care for our patients as if they were our own beloved pets and works to ensure this sentiment is represented in all actions taken by our animal care team. Raul has excelled from leading one team in Los Angeles to all the Veterinary Technicians and paraprofessionals in the six medical departments at ACCESS – San Fernando Valley.