The Surgeon with the skull collection…

Jana-Norris-DVM-DACVS-ASFVJana 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!”

Why surgery?
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.”

Why California?
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.

Jana-Norris-DVM-DACVS-at-work

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A dog’s journey from a bush to the Cardiology dept.

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.

Roscoe-Montage

(Top left photo Credit for Roscoe goes to the The Big Hearts Fund.)

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ACCESS scared up some fun this Halloween!

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.

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Congratulations are in order…STAT!

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.

Dr.-Joyce-Lee

 

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Halloween can be scary for pets. Tips on how to care for them…

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…

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ACCESS-Halloween-pet-tips-Spanish
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Our family tree has grown by quite a few leaves…

Howard

We have had a great summer! The past few months, our ACCESS family has grown in a big way! We’ve welcomed a new CEO, Howard Liberson to the team. Howard Liberson, has over 20 years of experience in business, finance, law, and accounting. Howard grew up in Chicago and attended UCLA as an undergraduate. He also graduated from Wharton Business School and Loyola Law School. He has two children – a 14 year old son and 12 year old daughter – and lives in Redondo Beach.

In addition to Howard, we’ve added a stellar team of over five client care coordinators, a client care manager, an administrative assistant, over a dozen veterinary assistants and technicians, and four emergency room doctors! ACCESS also has the pleasure of announcing that three of our client care coordinators have moved into new positions assisting our specialists in internal medicine, surgery, and critical care. We would like to take this opportunity to celebrate many new beginnings for our wonderful staff.

Our doctors have also welcomed new additions to their own families! We congratulate Lisa Mahlum, MS, DVM, DACVECC, and Elana Hadar, DVM, DACVIM on the birth of their children.

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Go Ernie…

In June of 2014, a specialist evaluation, including a MRI performed by the Neurological team at ACCESS Specialty Animal Hospital in the San Fernando Valley (led by Dr. Jeremy O’Neill, with Medical Technicians Jonathan Ramirez and Abel Serrano – below) discovered a brain tumor as being the cause of seizures that were disrupting ‘Ernie’s’ life.

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This promoted urgent surgery (craniectomy) to remove the tumor, which was identified as a meningioma, as shown below in the Ernie’s MRI images, which is the most common brain tumor seen in dogs and cats.

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Ernie-A

Good news! Here is Ernie with Dr. O’Neill two weeks after surgery, who is showing positive signs of recovery and preparing for his next step of treatment – radiation therapy to prevent the tumor from growing back.

Ernie

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The first of two important lectures for Veterinary Receptionists.

ACCESS-Dr-Kathleen-Ayl

The first of two lectures for Veterinary Receptionists pertaining to ‘Compassion Fatigue’ took place yesterday at our new Conference Center in San Fernando Valley.

Provided by ACCESS Specialty Animal Hospitals, and delivered by Kathleen Ayl, Psy.D, the response from attendees who came from a variety of Veterinary Practices, Clinics and Animal Hospitals was overwhelming.

Here is what a few had to say…

“I’m thankful for the invite from ACCESS. This lecture was a blessing and I’m leaving with a sense of knowledge and peace. Thank you.”– MH.

“Dr. Ayl was very informative. Great information, a must for all employees!” – JD

“I experience compassion fatigue daily and therefore this lecture was extremely beneficial and made me rather emotional. Thank you for your time and for sharing your knowledge. I could feel how much you care!” – LS

“I am so grateful I was invited to come out today for this lecture. This information will not only help at work, but in my personal life. This has made a huge impact on my way of thinking. I hope I can share this and have the same impact on others. Thank you!” – AM

“Thank you for giving a name to what so many of us go through and giving us the tools to better ourselves!” – CL

“I really liked listening to Dr. Ayl. She made me feel like she was speaking only to me a few times.”– BG

“Excellent. Very informative. I love Dr. Ayl, she is wonderful, kind, and sensitive.” – SP

“Great speaker! Very well spoken and a calming voice.” – MM

Thank you to all attendees, and we look forward to repeating this lecture to the more than forty Receptionists who are planning to attend next Monday evening.

We look forward to seeing you there.

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Meet Cheryl McDonald, our new Concierge!

At the ACCESS Specialty Animal Hospital Group we place high emphasis on Customer Service, and we would like to introduce Cheryl McDonald, our new Concierge.

Cheryl grew up in the rural suburbs of Tacoma, Washington where her family lived on a few acres. While her parents cared for animals, it was Cheryl who truly formed lasting friendships with them. She recalls her neighbor’s dogs- Penny the boxer, and Chuckles the Bassett Hound coming over to her house after school and on the weekends to spend the day with her. Cheryl moved to California for the weather, and has been with ACCESS since 2008.

Cheryl-Macdonald

Cheryl became a flight attendant twenty-seven years ago, and draws many parallels to her work in the Veterinary field, seeing a connection to the care and support she’s given to each client and patient over the years. During her career as a flight attendant, Cheryl began work as a Veterinary Technician. In 2006 she became a Registered Veterinary Technician after receiving both her Associate’s and Bachelor’s degrees. She wanted to help sick and injured animals become well again, and that became the driving force behind starting her very own non-profit animal rescue.

Over the years, Cheryl has rescued over 150 dogs, cats, birds, and exotics off of the streets, from shelters, and some from homes where the pet needed a little more help than the loving owner could provide. Many animals—and people would have been lost without her. We are so fortunate to have Cheryl at ACCESS in her new position as Concierge!

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