Wednesday, July 8, 2009

About Our Appointment Policy

Cat's Meow Veterinary Clinic is what is known as a solo practice. That means that it is staffed by ONE veterinarian: that would be me, Dr. Gayle (what many clients prefer to call me). Though modern medicine has worked many seeming miracles, it has yet to successfully clone an adult human being. Because of this, there truly is only one "me" to examine, diagnose, and perform surgery on my patients. I am therefore forced to schedule appointments for office visits and medical/surgical procedures in an attempt to avoid complete pandemonium in my hospital.

On weekdays I generally see office visits in the morning, then I do medical/surgical procedures late morning, have lunch, and then see more appointments in the afternoon. Saturdays we only see office visits and do not schedule any procedures that would require sedation/anesthesia, because it is such a short day.

We have a large number of patients to divide our time amongst, so it should come as no shock that it is not always possible for you to get the exact time slot for your appointment, on the exact day that you want, particularly if you are calling and wanting your cat to be seen THIS VERY MINUTE for something that is clearly not a medical emergency. I am sometimes in surgery, or working on a sick patient, or already in an exam room with another client (who may have brought 3 or 4 cats in at once). I may even be eating lunch (gasp). It has never been, and will never be, our policy to "bump" a client who is on time simply because another client wants the same time slot. We do not "double book".

If you want to bring Kitty in at 9:30 AM this Tuesday and we tell you that the appointment is not available (usually because another client is already booked for that time), we ask for your patience and understanding as we try to find another suitable time slot. Most importantly, we ask that you treat us the way you would wish to be treated: that is, by refraining from cursing and temper tantrums. This won't be difficult for the vast majority of our clients, so my comments are primarily directed toward prospective clients and that tiny minority of existing clients who apparently does not understand office etiquette.

Of course, if you believe your cat has a legitimate medical emergency, we will be more than happy to fit you into our schedule immediately, though it is best to call us first to make sure that I am actually physically available (and not out of the office, home sick, in surgery, or already treating another emergency).

We ask that you make every effort to be on time for your appointment so as to avoid inconveniencing the next client, and please bring your cat in a carrier for everyone's safety. If you need to cancel or reschedule, please give us as much advance notice as possible. Last minute cancellations usually result in dead time because of our inability to fill the time slot on extremely short notice, and that raises everyone's cost of care. And no-shows are, of course, not a way to cultivate a good doctor-client relationship.

There has been an unfortunate trend over the last decade or so for some people to treat veterinarians more like fast food employees than highly skilled medical professionals. Heck, some might say that it's unprofessional for me to even broach the subject, but it needs to be said: it's medical care, not a Happy Meal, and no, we don't have a drive-through window.