From California to New Jersey and back….


Jour’Danne is one of the talented people working in the emergency room at ACCESS San Fernando Valley. Her calm, cool demeanor paired with a razor-sharp wit and warm, friendly personality make her an integral part of our family, and we wanted to learn more about her!

How did Jour’Danne decide to work in veterinary medicine?
In high school, she knew she was destined to help whether it was people or animals! Jour’Danne had a few careers in mind—massage therapy, psychology, and working with animals, but how could she choose one over the other? After graduating, she moved to New Jersey to live with her grandparents and pursue a psychology major. She then met her now boyfriend, who encouraged her to follow her passion, driving her to enroll at the Animal Behavior College.

Why did she choose the ER?
Jour’Danne loves the fast-paced, controlled chaos that the emergency room has to offer!

What brought Jour’Danne to ACCESS?
While working at a local specialty hospital, Jour’Danne felt something was missing. She wanted to stay with a specialty and emergency facility, but wanted to work somewhere with a more tranquil and welcoming environment, which is when she found ACCESS! Jour’Danne feels comfortable with her coworkers, prefers the convenient location, and likes to be around specialty medicine, which helps a lot with her schooling—she’s in the RVT program at Pierce and will graduate in 2017!

What is her favorite animal and why?
Frenchies! Jour’Danne “is obsessed” with French Bulldogs and loves all brachycephalic breeds. She has one of her own, named Benji, whom she adores. She also loves Panda Bears because “they’re cute from birth through adulthood and they’re just silly animals.” Jour’Danne is also a big fan of the San Diego Zoo’s Panda Cam!

Does Jour’Danne collect anything?
As a beach lover, it’s no surprise that she loves bringing home seashells! Jour’Danne likes to display her carefully curated shells in old glass jars around her home.

What would she be doing if she wasn’t working in the ER?
Even if Jour’Danne weren’t with ACCESS, she’d likely be in Marine Biology to continue working with her true passion…animals!

What is Jour’Danne’s favorite meal and what is the best thing she cooks?
She loves Jamaican food—specifically her grandparents’ ackee and salt fish! Jour’Danne also likes gumbo and comfort foods and enjoys cooking curry chicken for her loved ones.

What is the most challenging case she’s ever had?
“Table dogs [critical care patients on life support]. It can be emotionally draining if they pass away because you’ve spent so much time with them, caring for them one-on-one and become attached to them and their families. But it’s so rewarding when you get to see them go home!”

What is Jour’Danne’s favorite procedure to see or do?
She loves a productive enema! They provide instant relief for her patients and they visibly feel so much better afterward.

What is one thing she wishes pet owners would start doing?
“Be more aware of your energy when you’re around animals—they feed off of your energy and behavior, so if you’re calm, they’re calm.” Jour’Danne also wants owners to understand the reasons behind patients being examined away from their owners, “it’s for the safety of the patient, the medical staff, and the owner. Often exams will be much quicker if the staff is left to do their thing.”

What does Jour’Danne consider to be her greatest achievement?
She’s proud of herself for her drive and determination to finish everything she starts.
We’re lucky to have Jour’Danne on our team and know that with her spirit, sense of humor, and integrity, she’s destined for success!



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!



Andre: Navy Veteran and Client Care Supervisor

Andre has been with ACCESS since September 2014 and immediately excelled in his position with our Client Care department, earning him a promotion to supervisor! Prior to joining ACCESS, Andre was in the Navy for eight years, with a tour in Iraq where he worked Humvee duty, providing security for supply trucks and worked as a Detainee Operative. We absolutely adore Andre and his kind, sensitive nature and wanted to talk about what brought him to ACCESS!

How did Andre decide to work in veterinary medicine?
Andre already had a full-time job and was looking for a part-time position to supplement his income when his friend, an ACCESS employee, mentioned our San Fernando Valley location was hiring. He “fell into” veterinary medicine and hasn’t looked back!

Why did he choose Client Care?
Andre was in the Navy for eight years. He was stationed in Virginia, Florida, Oregon, and Seattle, in addition to a two year tour in Iraq and an additional two years in Bahrain. He had worked with the Ordinance Men until he broke his hand and was placed in the office with the administrative team and found that he really enjoyed it! He became a Yeoman, or Office Supervisor and is able to apply the skills he learned there to his current role at ACCESS.

What is his favorite animal and why?
Andre grew up around animals, always having pets at home and loves cats even though he’s allergic to them. He also has a soft spot for dogs, especially his black Chihuahua, Star, who he found four years ago on the streets—they’ve been inseparable ever since!

Does Andre collect anything?
Andre saves all of his movie and concert tickets!

What is his favorite meal and the best thing that he cooks?
Surprisingly, with all of his experience in the Navy, Andre found time to attend culinary school at Le Cordon Bleu! He likes to apply the skills he acquired there to whip up eggs benedict with homemade hollandaise!

What is the most challenging case Andre has ever dealt with?
Andre is very empathetic toward pet owners who have to say goodbye to their pets and finds euthanasia to be emotionally challenging. Andre had to make the difficult decision to put his own pet to sleep several years ago and understands how hard the process is, though he takes comfort in knowing he was able to be there for both the pet and their family.

What is his favorite procedure to see or do?
Andre enjoys observing frontal sinus trephinations—a procedure in which a doctor will temporarily remove the front part of an animal’s skull to gain access to an infected part of the sinuses. From there, they administer a strong anti-fungal cream to the entire sinus cavity. The entire procedure can last hours, with great results! Andre is fascinated by this, as when left untreated, the fungus can eat through the bone and eventually corrode the brain. With this treatment however, the patient has a better chance at survival.



Meet Molly…


Molly is one of the many friendly faces you meet at our front desk at ACCESS – San Fernando Valley. She’s been with us from the start, has a passion for Client Care, and loves meeting new people, and we wanted to learn more about her!

How did she decide she wanted to work in veterinary medicine?
Molly loves animals and has wanted to work with them since she was four-years-old! She finds it exciting to work in the field and loves being able to see the healing process.

Why did Molly choose Client Care?
She loves meeting new people and seeing all of the different types of cases that come to the hospital. Molly also like being able to apply her well-honed skills in her work. She works tirelessly to ensure that our clients and staff members are cared for. Molly always tries to put herself in the other person’s shoes, allowing her the perspective needed to assist and comfort those around her.

What brought her to ACCESS?
Molly worked at the veterinary practice that used to be in the Valley before ACCESS purchased and renovated it. She had read a lot about Dr. Mills prior to making the decision to stay on and transition to ACCESS and was moved by what he had to say. Molly was excited to work for someone who stressed treating all of our patients and clients like family and to create a space for people to come and receive care while feeling safe and warm. Years later, she’s still excited to come in for each shift!

Where is Molly’s favorite place to visit?
Although her family is originally from California, Molly loves to visit her Mom in Portland. Together, they take in all the area has to offer as well as spend time with their beloved family dog. Molly also enjoys her visits because it takes her back to her childhood—she returned from her most recent trip with two homemade lasagnas!

What is her favorite animal and why?
Molly is a dog lover at heart and grew up with at least one always in her home. She also likes foxes for their sweet, innocent look and intelligence!

What would she be doing if she weren’t in Client Care?
She would be in vet school! That’s right, Molly can’t see herself in any other field, but she does take great joy in being able to help the families of the animals we treat.

What is Molly’s favorite meal and what is the best thing she cooks?
She loves breakfast, specifically pancakes! Molly even found a recipe for green tea pancakes that she swears by, though her wienerschnitzel is the best dish she cooks!

Does she collect anything?
Molly has been collecting smashed pennies since she was born! These quick and compact souvenirs take up two full jars at home, each commemorating a fond memory with family and friends. Molly estimates she has over 200 smashed pennies, including some from Portland, New York, every Southern California zoo, and the border of Canada!

What is one thing she wishes pet owners would start doing?
“Be more aware and don’t wait until the last minute to seek veterinary care. Many major issues can be prevented if they’re caught early enough.”

Molly’s greatest achievement is being able to save the lives of rescue dogs, even the ones she has adopted! Her huge heart shows in everything she does and we are so thankful for the opportunity to work with her every day.

Molly-and-team-C Molly-and-team-B Molly-and-team


How a Balloon Fixed This Pit’s Heart.


Cranberry-sittingCranberry was diagnosed with severe pulmonary stenosis when she was just a few months old, meaning flow of blood from the right ventricle of the heart to the pulmonary artery was obstructed, causing pressure and stress on the heart.

Depending on the severity of the obstruction, it can cause issues like a murmur, an arrhythmia, or even congestive heart failure. Upon diagnosis, Cranberry’s regular veterinarian referred her over to Dr. Steve Cole, the head of Cardiology at ACCESS San Fernando Valley.

Cranberry was part of the rescue group Angel City Pits, who after meeting with Dr. Cole, decided they wanted to pursue a procedure that would correct the issue. Dr. Cole teamed up with Dr. Yonathan Buks, one of the surgeons at ACCESS, to perform a balloon valvuloplasty in our interventional radiology suite. Using fluoroscopy, they were able to see a live x-ray of Cranberry’s heart. They made a small incision to insert a catheter that was used to guide the balloon (see below) the exact point needed to repair Cranberry’s heart. The balloon was successfully inflated at the point of the obstruction to open the path and allow blood to flow properly.

Cranberry made a full recovery and will now live a full, healthy life. She’s now considered a “foster fail” as her original foster mom decided to adopt her and officially make her a part of the family! We are so happy we were able to help Cranberry and thrilled that she has found a loving forever home.

If you would like to support Angel City Pits, please visit



Dr. Petritz’s Lecture was a Hit and Included a Special Guest!


Dr. Olivia Petritz gave a hit lecture on the common diseases of backyard poultry twice in April, once in our Los Angeles and once in Woodland Hills. In addition to preparing a very interesting lecture, Dr. Petritz was also able to set up a microscope under which our guests were able to look at different species of chicken lice! The biggest surprise came from her lecture in Woodland Hills though, where Dr. Martin Dinnes was one of our attendees.

Dr. Dinnes has an incredibly impressive veterinary career that spans over 50 years, including creating innovative medical protocols for zoological animals. He invented and developed the Telinject system for remotely injecting reptiles, mammals, and birds, making for a quick and safe method to deliver medication to exotic animals. Dr. Dinnes was also one of the eight veterinarians chosen by the American Veterinary Medical Association to form the American College of Zoological Medicine.

We were so very honored to have such a prestigious veterinarian in our audience that night, not to mention the very reason zoo and exotic medicine exists! We would like to thank Dr. Dinnes for all of his contributions to veterinary medicine and for attending our continuing education lecture.

If you would like to attend a lecture at our hospital, please contact Jillian Kassel at for more information.



Dr. Olivia Petritz with Dr. Martin Dinnes


Rockin’ and Rollin’ with our Client Care Rock Stars…


We celebrated the tremendous efforts of our receptionists, doctor’s assistants, charge coordinators, and phone operators last week with a whole rockin’ variety of activities and treats!

All of our Rock Stars received their “band shirts” at the beginning of the week and were able to wear them for each shift while they wrote encouraging messages on our gratitude wall, ate ice cream, enjoyed Olive Garden, played basketball and NBA Jam, and rested while watching movies and eating popcorn.

We love our Client Care team and are so thankful for each and every member and their contributions to our hospitals, patients, and clients.

(Click on the below images for a larger view…)