Human Care versus Animal Care
Submitted by Lisa A. Yackel
Hospital Administrator at Case Veterinary Hospital
Recently I have spent a lot of time at doctorsâ€™ offices and in a hospital in North Florida. Caring for an ill family member is stressful at best but it certainly is not made any easier by our health care system. In the many days that I spend sitting at the hospital, I couldnâ€™t help but compare the care we received with the care I see veterinarians and their staff give to their patients and their families on a daily basis.
At Case Veterinary Hospital, we have a mission statement and Core Values. We train at orientation and we review regularly. We hire employees who believe in these values and deliver their care because they are basically compassionate, empathetic, healthcare providers. It is not necessary to provide our clients with a copy of these values or have signs all over our hospital. The team intrinsically follows the mission statement because they believe in it. Core values occur naturally because we hire those who exhibit these values naturally. Everywhere I looked at the â€śhumanâ€ť hospital, the core values were posted but they did not translate into the care we received.
Doctors did not come to check on us as promised. Housekeeping did not take pride in their work (our animal hospital is truly cleaner than the human hospital and with fewer smells!). Messages were not documented. Promises were not kept. Instructions were not consistent, and follow up care was not monitored or detailed.
We were casually told that we were looking at a cancer diagnosis and major surgery. Fourteen days later, we were finally given our pathology results and only after numerous calls to the doctor. A follow up appointment was made for two weeks after a release from a week hospital stay following major surgery and five days in the CSIC unit. The individual nursing staff was friendly, competent, and caring but they were unable to help us navigate the system and their hands were tied when it came to communicating our needs to a doctor. Our comfort came in the form of family members taking turns staying around the clock to ensure that the basic needs of the patient were performed.
I watch our veterinarians daily checking in with the owners of our hospitalized pets. Lab samples are sent to the University of Georgia or an outside lab and results are communicated to the owners as soon as we get them back (rarely more than 10 days out). Messages left with the receptionists and the technicians reach our doctors immediately and are returned most of the time on the same day (often because the veterinarians skip lunch and get home long after dinner time). If the veterinarian is unavailable to speak to the client, they will dictate a message for one of the team to relay to the client. If a client calls the hospital for whatever reason, the communication is documented for follow through. Pets are treated as if they were our own. The veterinarians spend hours writing up their medical records in a way that any doctor would have a concise record of what procedures were performed and the reasoning behind the plan. These records are gladly copied at the request of the owner if there is a referral or a question. The primary veterinarian on the case has follow through to ensure referrals are made and an action plan for the petâ€™s home care is made.
All doctors and human hospitals are not created equal. Let me state here that I know many excellent doctors and wonderfully run hospitals. All veterinarians do not have the Standards of Care that Case Veterinary Hospital subscribes to by being a volunteer member of the American Animal Hospital Association and passing their accreditation process. I can wholeheartedly say, however, that as a whole, the veterinary community does an excellent job of giving compassionate, thorough care of both the patients and the patientâ€™s families. They do so because of their strong desire to be the petâ€™s advocate and because they understand the dynamics that are involved with communicating the patientâ€™s care to those who will be aiding the treatment plan at home. I am proud that this was the medical field I chose make my career in. Every pet is unique and every family member that brings them to our hospital is valued and affirmed.