Joshua | From PA to CA to ACCESS!

Joshua joined our team in May of 2014, through a friend’s referral. He quickly excelled and found his home in our Administration team, doing what he loves best—helping people! We wanted to learn more about what brought him to California, so we sat down with him to find out!

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Why Veterinary Medicine?
“I kind of stumbled upon it” says Josh. Although he grew up with pets, he didn’t know just how advanced veterinary medicine was until he came to ACCESS, his first veterinary job.

What Brought Him To California?
Josh had always dreamed of living in California, so, in the winter of 2014, he and his significant other packed up everything they owned and headed west! Joshua enjoys the laid back feeling and sunny weather that SoCal has to offer.

Where Is His Favorite Place To Visit?
If we’re talking West Coast, it has to be Disneyland! Joshua is a huge Disney fanatic and loves being so close to the happiest place on earth! Back on the East Coast, Josh calls Broadway home. He greatly enjoys musical theater and the hustle and bustle of the city.

What Is His Favorite Animal?
“Canines, specifically, Pugs! Those things are just so adorable, even if they’re ‘pugly’ and they always have a positive attitude—not a care in the world!”

What Would Joshua Be Doing If He Weren’t At ACCESS?
Joshua has a passion for photography and movies and says that if he weren’t at ACCESS, he would most likely be pursing photography or production.

What Is His Favorite Meal?
“Penne with Marinara.”

What Is The Best Think Joshua Cooks?
“I make a mean banana bread!”

Does He Collect Anything?
Playbills! Joshua has collected over 50 Playbills from shows he’s seen. He also hopes to add to his growing collection of Disney Designer Collection dolls.

What Is His Greatest Achievement?
“Having the courage to pick up and move to California, and being able to make it all work.”

In addition to loving animals, Joshua also loves the medical side of the veterinary field. Being able to observe a PDA procedure—where a cardiologist repairs a hole in the heart—is one of his favorite things to see! Joshua also has simple advice for pet owners “keep your dog on a leash, even if it is trained well.”

We are happy to have Joshua on our team and pleased to see him succeed in a position where he can put his Communications degree to work!

Josh

From left to right: Molly, Shannon, Josh, and Kim

 

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ACCESS visits IVECCS in Washington, D.C.

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In September of 2015, many of our team members made the trek to Washington, D.C. to attend IVECCS, the International Veterinary Emergency & Critical Care Symposium. There, we were able to attend lectures, host a booth at the job fair, and see old friends as well as make new ones! The ACE crew — Aubrey the cat, Carleigh the dog, and Eric the bird — enjoyed seeing everything D.C. had to offer!

The Gaylord National Convention Center was the perfect setting for such an impressive gathering of the best of the best in veterinary emergency and critical care! The Gaylord was centrally located and a truly remarkable venue for such an event. We were able to go sightseeing and were so thankful for the chance to see the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and the White House.

Later, at the job fair, we had the opportunity to meet dozens of technicians, doctors, residents, and specialists, all of whom were happy to learn more about what ACCESS and Southern California had to offer.

Our trip was wonderful and we were truly grateful for the experience. We can’t wait to see what next year has in store for us!

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Sarah’s Survivor Party

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“If she makes it two years, I’ll throw her a party!” said Dr. Jana Norris.

Two years ago, Dr. Norris, the head board-certified surgeon at ACCESS, San Fernando Valley, performed a triple ventral slot procedure on Sarah, a procedure which would prevent this adult dog from becoming fully paralyzed. During the procedure, Dr. Norris found that she also had a thyroid anaplastic acinar carcinoma, an aggressive form of cancer.

This was tough news for the then ten-year-old dog and her family, but her owners were determined. They faced each challenge head on, not willing to give up on their furry family member. Sarah was able to be treated for her cancer by the Veterinary Cancer Group, and was eventually pushed through to remission by the wonderful specialists there.

Then, in August of 2015, we threw a party for Sarah the dog.

Sarah’s battle and recovery are truly amazing and it’s a case like this that reminds each of us why we are here and keep us grateful for the advances in veterinary medicine that make it possible for us to treat beloved animals. “Her prognosis with aggressive high grade and high stage cancer was poor all along, so it is amazing that she made it to two years post-op. That is a very good response to therapy and survival time after this diagnosis.” says Dr. Jana Norris.

We were happy to see Sarah back at our hospital, but this time, in our conference room! Dr. Norris provided a super-dog costume for super Sarah, who dined on gourmet dog treats; while the humans snacked on pizza. Sarah and her family brought a beautiful cake for the staff, and we all spent time talking about Sarah’s initial visit, her diagnosis, subsequent surgeries, and treatments.

We celebrate our patients each and every day, but it was nice to set aside special time for Sarah and her family.

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Snuggle Break…

All of our patients are not only medically cared for, but mentally and emotionally cared for as well! We are so fortunate to have such loving coworkers and staff that interact with our patients each day and were lucky enough to catch Kristen and Fancy during a snuggle session.

Kristen

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We love Good Samaritans!

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Without the Good Samaritans who see an injured or ill animal and ask for help, so many pets wouldn’t get the care and treatment they need. Unfortunately, ACCESS Specialty Animal Hospitals are simply not equipped with the space or staff to care for the volume of homeless animals in the area.

Additionally, we have an obligation that requires the person presenting the pet to take responsibility for it. This means that the person has to pay for services, but more importantly, they must make medical decisions for the pet. Obviously, this is an emotional challenge for many individuals, so we ask that you help us by routing those in need to the proper direction.

We encourage all Good Samaritans to take any found animals to the appropriate facility for their species so that they receive medical attention and have the chance to be put in front of thousands of families who are looking to adopt a new pet!

If you have found an animal in need of medical care, please consult the following locations who are able to accept animals.

For Wildlife
California Wildlife Center—cawildlife.org
“If you have found a wild animal that appears to be sick, injured, abandoned or in danger, please call our emergency hotline number. 310.458.WILD [9453]”

Culver City Animal Services: (310) 253-6143
San Pedro International Bird Rescue: (310) 514-2573

For Dogs and Cats
City of Los Angeles—lacity.org
“Individuals may bring an animal to the nearest shelter, or contact the shelter and field personnel will respond. Veterinary medical staff will examine the animal, provide treatment if appropriate and make the animal available for adoption if it is not claimed by its owner. If an animal is critically ill or injured, does not respond to treatment, it will be humanely euthanized.

Shelters are open Sundays 11:00AM to 5:00PM and closed Mondays and Holidays but are open for receiving animals 24 hours daily. (888) 452-7381”

Didn’t find an animal but still want to help? In addition to financial contributions, you can donate food, blankets, bedding, toys, treats, and more to your local rescue or shelter. Many shelters and rescues will accept those items for a variety species!

To Find A Lost Pet
Check out FindingRover.com and FindingKitty.com as well as Los Angeles Animal Services.

 

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Introducing the ACCESS CARES Initiative

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We understand the importance of caring and going above and beyond the confines of our hospitals for both humans and animals, which is why we have begun the ACCESS CARES Initiative. Through this, we will be reaching out to those in our community for education and in-hospital experiences, as well as turning inward and connecting with our coworkers.

Because we believe in taking care of yourself mentally, emotionally, and physically, we have begun ACCESS CARES: Compassion Fatigue Training Program, exclusively for ACCESS Employees, provided by board-certified psychologist, Dr. Kathleen Ayl. We are certain that providing support and training for our staff will result in healthier, happier caregivers.

Each department will spend one hour learning about how to recognize, treat, and recover from Compassion Fatigue, as well as how to help their coworkers, family members, and pet parents who may be struggling as well. Additionally, each employee will have the opportunity to have a private, confidential session with Dr. Ayl to talk about anything that may be on their mind.

We’re excited to launch this program this month and look forward to having our second set of sessions around the holidays. From there, we’ll have this training every six months to support and guide those we work with.

Although these sessions are specifically tailored for veterinary team members, Dr. Ayl’s services are open to anyone. Please call the ACCESS Hospital nearest you for more information on counseling.

Shannon Brown
Marketing Coordinator | ACCESS Specialty Animal Hospitals

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Lance: A Southern Gent in SoCal…

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Lance is one of our many sweet, insightful, and talented ER team members. We work with him every day and wanted to know more about who is he and what brought him from Houston, Texas to Southern California.

Why Veterinary Medicine?
“It found me” says Lance. After high school, Lance attended the University of Texas and soon returned to his roots in Houston. He has always loved animals and attended a job fair where he found a career as a veterinary assistant. He was able to do some on the job training and eventually earned his Certified Veterinary Assistant certification, or CVA. It’s been all animals, all the time ever since!

What does Lance like about emergency medicine?
Lance actually prefers the ICU, where our most delicate and critical patients are. He finds that he is able to remain calm under pressure and fits in with a fast paced environment. Lance is “comfortable in the hustle and bustle and likes having the ability to save a life.”

Where is his favorite place to visit?
Lance loved visiting Germany and Europe! Ever the traveler, he also enjoys Mexico, the Caribbean, and seeing places with rich history and culture.

What is Lance’s favorite animal?
Big cats! Lance has loved cheetahs ever since he was little—their speed caught his attention, as they’re the fastest land animal! Lance also loves domestic cats since he “finds their personalities intriguing. They’re sensitive, so you have to treat them gently. One cat may not like having his back feet touched, another might love to be petted. Veterinary medicine is all about figuring out the pieces of the puzzle to make it work.”

What would he be doing if he weren’t at ACCESS?
Lance could see himself working at a pharmaceutical company, following his passion for science and problem solving.

What is Lance’s favorite dish?
Pizza and barbecue, of course!

Does Lance collect anything?
He used to collect baseball cards and had over 5,000! Now, Lance is working on his collections of gold and silver pieces, family heirlooms, and old books. His favorites? Shakespearean books from the 1800s.

What are his tips for pet owners?
Please understand that the animal emergency process is similar to that of the human side—the most critical patients come first.“We get emotional too.” Lance adds. From the front desk staff to the technicians and assistants, to the doctors, we all want the best for the little guys and are just as emotional as the pet owners.

What is the most challenging case Lance has ever had?
Lance will never forget a sweet little cat from his very first year in the veterinary world. The cat had been severely burned in a house fire and he still vividly remembers that night as the most emotionally trying night of his career.

Lance does enjoy a good challenge though, which is why he enjoys emergencies. He helped in a save a Weimaraner with a twisted lung. Lance sat with the pup all night long to make sure he was comfortable and receiving all of the treatments he needed to survive the night before his emergency surgery. The pup lived, and Lance continues on in the field that stole his heart.

What does he consider his greatest achievement?
“Helping take care of my niece and nephew in Texas.” Lance is close with his family and found fulfillment in guiding his young relatives and watching them grow up and become good people.

When he’s not working, you can find Lance hanging out with friends, enjoying a good barbecue meal, or keeping up on the latest advancements in veterinary medicine. Lance brings a positive attitude, humble know-how, and a heaping helping of manners to each and every day he works. Lance is one of Lead Technicians for the emergency room, which means he is the go-to guy on his shifts and he recently took over scheduling for all of our technicians! We are lucky to have Lance on our team and hope that you say hi to him the next time you visit us!

Lance-and-team

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Life as an RVT: Puppy Anesthesia Challenges..

By Rhianna Depew, RVT…

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Dr. Steven Cole, our board-certified cardiologist, approached me and asked a very delicate question. “How do you feel about doing anesthesia on a two-week-old, tiny puppy?”

“Puppy” as she was aptly called, since she hadn’t acquired a name yet, was a cute and cuddly, and very fragile Burmese Mountain Dog neonate that was already having cardiac issues at her young age. She had patent ductus arteriosus, or PDA, which is a congenital vascular communication between the aorta and pulmonary artery. This is normal for humans and animals in the womb, however in some cases, this vessel fails to close normally at the time of birth.

If left untreated, a PDA can cause severe cardiac enlargement, and eventual congestive heart failure (fluid in the lungs), or pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure in the lungs).
In fact, most dogs with an untreated PDA do not survive the first few years of life. Because of how tiny she was, she wasn’t a good candidate for the typical, minimally invasive technique with catheters. Instead, Puppy needed open chest surgery in order to accomplish the PDA ligation; but that also meant a lot of risk, and a whole host of potential complications.

Dr. Cole knew I loved challenges, and was always up for our most difficult cases, but this one was different—a suckling neonate under general anesthesia is extremely high risk. But we were determined to do everything we could to help this puppy, so I started planning ahead. I thought about this small, delicate puppy every day leading up to the procedure, as well as the night before. She kept me awake, going over every detail and making mental checklists of everything I needed to get her safely through her risky life-saving surgery.

That morning I woke up early and wanted to make sure I arrived at the hospital ahead of schedule to start planning and preparing. This was the smallest heart surgery I had ever assisted with. She would need the tiniest versions of all the equipment we normally used. Tiny catheters, tiny endotracheal tube, tiny, tiny doses of medication and anesthetic drugs. I calculated all the “what if” emergency medications ahead of time and went over and over again everything we needed. I went over to Puppy’s cage and scooped her up. She fit into the palm of my hand and had the typical clumsy movements of a newborn. She was incredibly soft, and made the cutest little squeaky puppy sounds.

She fit into the palm of my hand and had the typical clumsy movements of a newborn. She was incredibly soft, and made the cutest little squeaky puppy sounds.
I gave her a kiss and held her up to my cheek and told her that she was going to do great, and that there would be plenty of days of running through grassy parks, toys, and treats in her future. Then I placed her back in her bed of cozy blankets so she could get some rest before her big procedure, and so that I could go triple check that everything was in place.

When it came time for surgery, we prepped the puppy before we put her under anesthesia and had every warming device at our disposal to keep her temperature up. I gave her micro doses of anesthetic to get her sleepy, placed ET tube in her trachea to control her breathing, hooked her up to the anesthesia machine and patient monitor, listened to her little heart beating on the monitor, and gave her some tiny breaths.

Then, I remembered to breathe, as I was holding my breath with each step taken to prepare Puppy for her big procedure. We were on our way.

Our board-certified surgeon Dr. Jana Norris, along with Dr. Cole, arrived into the OR, and we wasted no time getting right to it. The room was silent. We were all hyper focused in our tasks at hand: to accomplish this procedure and get this puppy out quickly and safely. Dr. Norris’ skilled hands were each the size of the entire patient, and they worked precisely and efficiently around the puppy’s tiny heart and lungs. I continuously watched between my monitor, the patient and the doctors, monitor, patient, doctors, monitor, patient, doctors—trying to stay a step ahead at all times. You could cut the tension with a knife, and I don’t think any of us had taken a full breath, then….

Dr. Norris assured everyone in the room with a confident “I got it.”

Puppy was doing great under anesthesia, and knowing the mission was accomplished, I could feel some nervous tears welling up. We finished the surgery and gave each other well deserved verbal high fives. I brought our tiny patient into recovery and stayed by her side until she fully woke up. Within a couple of hours she was back to being her cute and wiggly self, and wanting to be bottle fed.

Puppy was able to go home a few days later and recently came in for a recheck with her beloved cardiologist. She’s doing very well and is expected to grow fully to her Burmese Mountain Dog size and live a long, happy life. Puppy will be a constant reminder that preparation, precision, dedication, and team work, are all crucial to saving an animal’s life. For now, Puppy will continue to steal our hearts and bring joy to the hospital with each and every visit.

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From Left to right: Dr. Jana Norris, Dr. Steve Cole, and Registered Veterinary Technician, Rhianna Depew.

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