Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What To Do If You Have An After-Hours Emergency

For 18 years we have referred after-hours emergencies to Animal Emergency Care Center/Animal Critical Care down at the corner of Ventura and Winnetka. One of the drawbacks to their facility is that they close at 8 AM and all patients must be either transferred directly to a daytime practice like ours or taken home. This is not always in the pet's best medical interest.

We are very happy to now be able to refer our after-hours emergencies to Veterinary Specialists of the Valley at 22123 Ventura Blvd in Woodland Hills, just west of Topanga Canyon Blvd on the north side of the street. VSV, in addition to having internal medicine and surgery specialists on staff during the day to see referral cases, provides 24/7 emergency and critical care, and has board-certified critical care specialists on duty all night and weekend. Their phone number is 818-883-8387.

Dr. Deborah Rackear is the lead internist. I have referred a number of cases to her over the years, particularly cardiac cases needing ultrasound evaluation. With a 24-hour facility I can now refer difficult cases like unstable ketoacidotic diabetics to her as well (these are not well suited to a small day practice such as Cat's Meow).

Dr. Morgan Cavanaugh is in charge of the emergency services. Emergency and Critical Care is one of the newer veterinary specialties, and one we have needed desperately in this part of the Valley.

Dr. Charisse Davidson is director of surgical services. Charisse did her surgical residency at VetSurg under Jack Henry just down the street from us, and divides her time between VSV and another surgery referral practice in the Pasadena area.

Several other veterinarians are on staff, but I didn't grab their cards when I went to the open house, so I don't have their names handy. I'm just thrilled to know that they are available for my clients.

As always, if you have an emergency during our business hours please call us first to see if we can fit you in and determine if it sounds like a genuine emergency. An exception would be if your cat JUST got hit by car or attacked by a dog and seriously injured - in that case it would be perfectly reasonable to drop everything and head straight for VSV - they do see daytime emergencies, surgeons are always either on site or on call, and they have radiography, ultrasound, and CAT capabilities on-site.

With a brand new facility, state-of-the-art equipment, and multiple specialists on staff, veterinary services at VSV are obviously not going to be at bargain-basement prices, nor should anyone expect that. Their fees are in line with equivalent services elsewhere in the area, and it is especially true here that you get what you pay for. Emergency exam fees are $70-90 depending on time of day/night, and obviously any diagnostic tests, treatment, surgery, medications etc are in addition. Please do not expect them or us to quote fees over the phone for treating a sick or injured animal they have not yet seen (this also applies when you call about coming to Cat's Meow Veterinary Clinic - we still don't have a magic crystal ball to look into and read the future).

While we sincerely hope that you will never have a medical emergency and need their services, I can sleep easier at night knowing that VSV is available.