Tails from the Road – Lectures Edition!

ACCESS had a busy week bringing our doctors and staff to speak at different events. Here is a glimpse into what we were up to:

Platt College in Alhambra invited ACCESS back again to talk to techs in training. Gabe Esparza spoke about life as an ACCESS RVT, and his background leading up to where he is now at our South Bay hospital. Gabe said has not had a dull moment in the ER and he shared his insights with the group of 15 students. They asked what he looks for in employees that he works with, and how he studied for the VTNE. He also spoke about the ACCESS Academy that new hires go through during their first 90 days to succeed in their department. Maybe they will work for ACCESS one day!


Dr. Karen Schachterle, from our Avian & Exotics Department, spoke about surviving exotics emergencies at the DVM2k dinner held at City of Angels. The event is aimed as “the youthful veterinary community” although there were people of all ages there, ranging from doctors, to techs, to students. Everyone was genuinely interested in learning what they could from Dr. Schachterle to apply in their own practice, and attendees who already work with her were able to ask questions of her to build on their relationship so exotic emergencies don’t have to be so scary.

Leah Basinais, Director of Operations at ACCESS, gave a lunch and learn for staff at Conejo Valley Veterinary Hospital in Thousand Oaks on compliance and estimate acceptance. It was a condensed version of a Continuing Education lecture she gave recently at our Woodland Hills hospital, and fear not if you missed it and think it would benefit your practice, she is going on tour! For now, Leah will be giving this same talk in Cerritos and Bakersfield in September, the South Bay in November, and Culver City in December so stay tuned for more info.


The North Bay/Westside VMA chapter had their monthly dinner meeting and Dr. Mike Becker, from our Emergency and Critical Care Department in Culver City gave a lecture on antimicrobial use in emergency situations. It was a huge turnout with the hotel running out of chairs at one point, so it must be because word got out that ACCESS was sponsoring and Dr. Becker had an interesting topic. We look forward to him giving the lecture at ACCESS Culver City sometime next year!



How Does an Ultrasound Work?

In an ultrasound examination, a probe sends sound waves to the body and receives the echoing waves, creating an image on the screen. It’s a great way to examine the inside of the body in a painless, non-invasive way.

Here Dr. Gideon Daniel, one of our Internal Medicine specialists, demonstrates some of his techniques on a mango! He showed us how to perform an ultrasound as well as how to collect a sample—we commonly take urine and fluid samples during an ultrasound to run further diagnostics.




Danny: Animal Lover, RVT, Veteran



Danny has worked for ACCESS since June 2013, starting out at our Los Angeles location and currently working in the ER at ACCESS – San Fernando Valley. His sweet, stoic demeanor is paired with sharp wit and a set of skills necessary for success in a busy emergency and critical care department. We’ve worked alongside him for quite some time and wanted to learn more about what makes Danny tick!

How did Danny decide to work in veterinary medicine?
Danny grew up surrounded by animals and wanted to “pay them back for all they had given [him].”

Why did he choose the emergency room?
Danny likes that he gets to experience everything—different medical issues, procedures, and treatments! He enjoys being able to interact with all of the other specialties in the hospital and widening his field of knowledge.

What brought Danny to ACCESS?
He worked in general practice for two years and felt as though he hit a ceiling. Danny then decided it was time to go to a hospital that offered emergency and specialty medicine so he could learn more.

What is his favorite animal and why?
Danny loves all animals, but prefers dogs—he loves being able to play with them!

What would Danny be doing if he weren’t an RVT?
He would be a helicopter mechanic! Danny was a Marine for eight years, where he trained at Pendleton, then Edwards Airforce Base. Danny enjoyed his time as a Marine and even became a Sergeant!

What is his favorite meal and the best thing he cooks?
Danny loves sushi and anything Italian, though his best dish is pork chops—stuffed with sundried cranberries and bleu cheese!

What is Danny’s favorite procedure to see or do?
Danny likes to observe a PDA, or patent ductus arteriosus, correction. This procedure is performed by board-certified cardiologists and simply put, is when a hole in the heart is filled to prolong the life of an animal (or human)! Danny truly loves being able to assist in surgeries, as he’s very hands-on and thrives on the experience.

What is one thing he wishes pet owners would start doing?
“Learn more about the animals you are interested in before getting one as a pet and stop putting so much faith in medical advice offered on Google. Although it’s a great resource, there is a lot of misinformation there. Speak with a vet if you have questions!”

Outside of the hospital, you can catch this fluent Spanish speaker at the gym with friends, playing video games, or indulging his wanderlust with plans to see Asia and Australia! We appreciate Danny’s passion, knowledge, and skillset and are honored to have him on our team!


Lynx Love



Miko is a Lynx kitten who came to see Dr. Annie Lo at ACCESS – Los Angeles for an orthopedic issue. In addition to a snazzy new bandage, he received many hugs and snuggles from our staff, namely Jessica, one of the RVTs in our surgery department!




Meet Esmeralda…


Esmeralda is one of our incredible RVTs at ACCESS – Los Angeles. Her calm, unusual, and collected demeanor perfectly accompanies her great sense of humor and awesome art skills! Esmeralda has been with us since April 2014 and we wanted to learn more about her.

How did Esmeralda decide to work in veterinary medicine?
Preferring pets to people, it was an easy choice for Esmeralda! She has always bonded easily with animals, so caring for them was an obvious choice when picking her career.

Why did she choose the emergency room?
When she was in school, Esmeralda learned about all of the types of places a Registered Veterinary Technician could work and one stood out—she was drawn to emergencies. During her externships, her passion was confirmed! Esmeralda really enjoys caring for patients after the initial triage and loves being able to nurse them back to health, especially getting patients to eat! She also takes a liking to creating the best environment for her patients, whether it be by intricate bandage designs, or crafts, and is known around the hospital for it!

What brought Esmeralda to ACCESS?
After school, she started working at a specialty hospital, but wanted more. She then found ACCESS and was happy with her placement in our Emergency & Critical Care Department.

What is her favorite animal and why?
Esmeralda loves cats and rats! She likes that they’re quirky and social in their own way.

What would Esmeralda be doing if she weren’t a tech?
An embalmer or pathology assistant! Esmeralda enjoys learning and caring for those in need and these professions help provide important insight for the loved ones of the departed.

What is her favorite meal and what is the best thing she cooks?
Esmeralda loves pizza and can whip up a great vegan cupcake (though it has been a while), or simple serving of French fries!

What is the most challenging case Esmeralda has ever had?
“Table patients,” from a personal, and observational perspective. Esmeralda finds table patients, animals who are severely injured or sick and on life support, to be very challenging given their advanced illnesses and intensity of their treatments.

What is her favorite procedure to see or do?
Necropsies! Esmeralda loves the science, and sometimes, mystery behind it.
Esmeralda is also fond of observing pacemaker implantations done by our board-certified cardiologists. The technology, process, and life-saving ability is awe-inspiring!

What is one thing Esmeralda wishes pet owners would start doing?
Be more understanding, trust the knowledge of the veterinarians and technicians, and go in with an open mind. The staff’s goal is not only to save your pet and nurse them to health, but to also educate pet owners.

What does she consider to be her greatest achievement?
“Raising a wild son and becoming an RVT.” Esmeralda is close with her family and finds fulfillment in watching her young son grow up and setting an example for him in becoming a licensed professional in her field.

Outside of the hospital, Esmeralda enjoys making candles and photography, specifically, black and white shots of plants and animals! Esmeralda is loved by her coworkers for her knowledge, compassion, and care and we consider ourselves lucky to be able to work with her!

Esmeralda-C Esmeralda-B


Nina, the Pup in a Cup’s Plasma Exchange!

Nina is a six-year-old German Shepherd who was referred to Dr. Adam Eatroff, head of Nephrology & Hemodialysis at ACCESS Los Angeles, for advanced treatment of myasthenia gravis, an autoimmune condition that affects the connection of the nerves to the muscles.

When Nina first came into the hospital, she was unable to walk, stand, or even support herself and we knew we had to help.

Myasthenia gravis occurs in humans and animals and not only affects the muscles of the leg, but also weakens the esophagus, a condition called megaesophagus (because the esophagus enlarges, like an empty bag). Without the ability to contract the muscles in her esophagus, Nina was unable to keep food or water down, resulting in food being regurgitated into her lungs (a life threatening problem called aspiration pneumonia). She was also facing the possibility of starvation! Animals who have megaesophagus typically have to use a Bailey Chair (a device similar to a high chair) when they eat to keep them upright, making it easier for them to swallow. Nina’s family found that a large tub with pillows inside was the best fit for their beloved Nina. She happily sits inside during mealtime and enjoys the one-on-one experience with her family and caregivers!

To treat myasthenia gravis, Dr. Eatroff used our hemodialysis machine to perform plasma exchange, a procedure that separates the portion of the blood that contains a disease-causing substance, in this case antibodies. The red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets are then put back into the patient, along with a fluid that replaces the plasma.

Nina spent about nine days in our hospital where she received treatments, went through daily exams to measure progress, and had many snuggle sessions. She was kept comfortable in the hospital and made many friends with our staff members—most notably Precious, Dr. Eatroff’s assistant, and Sheridan (see below), an RVT.

Nina regained her strength and was able to go home to continue recovering with her family, most importantly walking out the front door with no assistance needed! Hemodialysis can be used to treat many diseases, not just kidney failure, but also diseases that have nothing to do with the kidney, like myasthenia gravis and immune mediated hemolytic anemia (IMHA). We are so happy we were able to help sweet Nina and get her back to her loving family! You can also follow Nina’s journey on Instagram at pup_in_a_cup_Nina!

If you have any questions about hemodialysis or plasma exchange, don’t hesitate to ask your primary veterinarian or Dr. Adam Eatroff!




Puppy Love!

Victor from our LA surgery team is pictured here snuggling Harper, another employee’s pet. We love being able to treat animals like family, and Harper is no exception!




Removing Stones from Strawberry


Strawberry, a three-year-old female guinea pig, was seen by Dr. Olivia Petritz, our board-certified exotics specialist. Strawberry presented for an evaluation of a bladder stone, which had been diagnosed by her primary veterinarian. After consulting with Dr. Branter, the head of Interventional Radiology/Endoscopy and Urology, Strawberry’s family decided to try to remove the stone without surgery.

Using a small, rigid cystoscope and basket specialized for stone removal, Dr. Branter was able to retrieve the stone and avoid an invasive surgical procedure. The stone was analyzed and the results showed that it was composed of calcium carbonate, which is the most common type of stone in guinea pigs.

Strawberry recovered much more quickly than if she had undergone surgery. She was sent home soon after the scope with antibiotics and pain medication to recover with her family. She will have periodic x-rays to check for the formation of new stones, which will allow us to find any future stones early enough to remove them with an even less invasive method called voiding urethral hydropulsion, or flushing out of stones.