True Care Veterinary Hospital

PET OWNERS GUIDE TO TRUE CARE VETERINARY HOSPITAL

Hello and welcome to our clinic! Drs. Hill and Ross took over the former Clarence Animal Hospital in October, 2013, and are proud of the practice they have built. We have a simple mission:

“true care”

True Care Veterinary Hospital (TCVH) offers general wellness and surgical services including regular preventive care (wellness examinations, parasite control, nutritional counseling and immunizations) and general surgical/dental care. While we are a stand-alone clinic, we are part of a broader veterinary network in the region including numerous veterinary specialists who can assist us with more complicated medical and surgical cases – these would be the “second opinion” options. We also refer to Cornell University when appropriate. We do not perform any orthopedic procedures and declawing is now illegal in New York State (please see cat care guidelines).

This guide, and the additional links provided, will explain how we provide our services and what you can expect from us. It can be difficult to find a veterinarian that suits your expectations or needs but we will try hard to do this. If at any time you feel that we are not meeting your expectations, or we are not fulfilling our goals, please let us know. Should you decide to leave us we will gladly provide either you or your new clinic with your pets medical records with your permission.

Finally, back to our mission statement “true care”. True Care means many things to many people – options are an important aspect of True Care as many pet owners often are not given any options. The heart of true care is an honest conversation about your pets health and well being, and this discussion often involves economics – true care involves everyone! We do our best to provide the best possible care at reasonable prices – and we expect to be compensated for the services we provide at the time of care. If at anytime you feel uncomfortable with our approach, or have a disagreement about the services we provide – please talk with us!

HOW TO SCHEDULE AN APPOINTMENT AT TRUE CARE

Appropriate scheduling is essential to your pets care and your own, valuable time. Schedule appropriately and don’t count on “getting in and out” in a hurry. “Squeezing” a veterinary visit in can be a disaster for you, your pet and the staff at our hospital. When scheduling your appointment, we cannot possibly know the state of the clinic at the time you will be there – calling ahead to check on whether we are on time may not reflect what will happen when you hang up the phone. We accommodate urgent care and walk-ins – these may radically alter the way your visit will proceed. The veterinary clinic can go from serene to chaos in minutes – please be patient if this occurs and consider rescheduling. We have special recommendations for scheduling end-of-life care (see below). If you are requesting to be seen as urgent care – your pet will receive priority upon arrival at the expense of clients in the building with pre-scheduled appointments.

For routine wellness visits, with or without vaccinations, you will typically expect to spend 20-25 minutes at the clinic. This (usually) allows us to perform fecal and heartworm testing prior to the end of the visit, and allows enough time to answer any wellness questions you may have. IMPORTANT – if you have a number of medical related questions which necessitates more time than a routine wellness exam requires - you will get the time you need but it is fair for us to charge for this (prolonged exams mean inconvenience for all other clients in, and coming into the clinic!). If during the visit we inform you that we will be upgrading to a medical visit the exam fee will be higher!

For puppy/kitten visits (whether or not as part of a puppy/kitten plan), these will often be conducted in the treatment area in back and you can expect about 10 minutes for these visits – unless concerns are noted.

For medical visits, expect about 30 minutes and be prepared to describe your pets issue(s) as accurately as possible. You may bring written notes but the doctors have time constraints – please address the most important concerns you have. Be prepared to tell us what (and how much of) you are feeding your pet, including treats. Be prepared to list all medications and supplements your pet is receiving and the dosages. If your pet is receiving care from another veterinarian, please let us know. Please note that we are a “front-line” veterinary office. If you are seeking a second opinion, that’s fine but we may recommend referral for a true second opinion!

For urgent care visits your pet will be triaged to the treatment area for an immediate examination regardless of existing or ongoing appointments. You will not be permitted to accompany your pet to allow us to focus on the triage exam – we will escort you in back if needed. If appropriate, emergency aid will be rendered immediately per professional guidelines unless you state otherwise – all other treatments and procedures must have your approval prior to being performed. Walk-in visits will be treated in the same way, HOWEVER, if you walk-in for a routine preventive service – this will cost you the same as an urgent care – it may be best to simply schedule an appointment for your pet needs.

In some cases, you may be charged a technician visit. These occur for situations such as follow-up booster vaccinations, nail trims and anal sac expressions. These visits may actually be performed by a doctor. Regardless, all technician visits include a brief physical examination (heart/lungs, ears/eyes, lymph nodes and abdomen). During nail trims your pets feet will be inspected for any problems such as cysts, etc.

We may request a recheck examination – this is a continuation of care visit and they are very important as they give us a way to assess response to therapy and determine whether or not another medical problem may exist which prompted therapy in the first place. In many cases, pets are brought back in for medical conditions which were not appropriately rechecked. In some cases, it may be necessary to change the medical (or surgical) direction or even seek a referral visit for a true second opinion. Recheck exams should be scheduled at check out.

Each visit type has an associated fee which is based on the time needed, depth of communication required and the level of care provided. Urgent care visits are more expensive due to the disruptive nature they have on the entire days schedule and the number of staff these visits often involve. The ability to be seen on an urgent care basis is a valuable service to our clients and their pets and often negates the need to be seen at regional emergency facilities. If you call for a medical appointment you may be informed that we have only “urgent care” availability. This means that our appointment schedule is completely full. Please note, we see more medical/sick appointments than routine wellness appointments. An afternoons empty medical schedule can fill by 8:15am that very morning!

At the conclusion of your visit you should schedule any rechecks that were discussed by the doctor at that time. If you have submitted samples for testing you will be called when they are performed and properly interpreted by the doctors – usually the same day although calls may be made the next day based on the volume of calls and results to be reported. Priority is given to patients whose laboratory values are abnormal and which may require pressing medical intervention. We are happy to provide you with copies of any lab work done!

Finally, the doctors NEVER come up to the front or step out to the vehicle to ‘quickly check something” – in practice it is never “quick” and is an entirely inappropriate way to practice medicine. Schedule a visit!

CAN I ASK TO SEE A PARTICULAR DOCTOR?

As a rule of thumb – NO! Unless the schedule is very slow, it is simply not feasible for this to occur in a busy small animal practice with only two veterinarians. Both Drs. Hill and Ross have very close practice philosophies and rely on each other to manage ALL of our patients.

HOUSE CALL SERVICES AT TCVH

We offer a limited house call service. We can provide a wellness exam and routine immunizations, basic medical visits (such as lameness) or end-of-life (EOL) care. House calls are highly dependent on both the clinic schedule and the doctors schedule as well as the weather. It can take some time before a visit can be arranged. All house call visits must be approved with a doctor – when you call you should be advised of this and expect a call back regarding the nature of the visit. We cannot perform house calls at more than 12 miles one-way from the clinic.

For end-of-life house calls, they must satisfy our requirements for initiating EOL care (see above). If you are electing cremation and return of ashes or group burial/cremation, please have bedding and a heavy duty, plastic bag available for transport to the clinic (we can bag the bedding and have you pick this up if desired). If you are going to bury your pet at home we can give you advice on this but keep in mind most towns frown on this practice.

For vaccination house calls, a rabies certificate will be generated at the time payment is made and posted to your account. We can mail a rabies certificate with receipt to you or you can pick it up at the clinic.

If your pet is too fractious (aggressive) to handle at home – we will recommend a clinic visit for possible sedation, or an attempt at home medical sedation prior to another visit attempt. We cannot use injectible sedation at a clients house due to lack of oxygen facilities.

If a visit is scheduled, we will call you a few minutes before leaving – please be ready to take this call. If we leave a voice mail we will still come but will leave if we cannot raise anyone at the address. Please give us instructions on how to enter the property (gates, garage, etc.) and please have us take off our shoes if you do!

TELEPHONE COMMUNICATION WITH THE DOCTORS

The doctors usually will only call clients after appointments are done at the end of the day. The busy nature of the schedule does not permit adequate and comfortable time to discuss your concerns during appointments or procedures. We usually have (on average) anywhere from 5 – 15 call requests DAILY! There is simply not enough time to promptly respond to all of these within the same day - we triage calls based on the medical or surgical nature of the case.

Please also note that return calls may be after 8pm on Wednesdays. If the doctors leave a voice mail, they will attempt to reach out to you the next day (which could be a Monday after the weekend) – if you immediately return the call it will go to voice mail as the doctors will have moved on to other calls (see email below).

EMAIL COMMUNICATION

Email has become a popular form of communication but has its limitations. You may email an appointment request (please leave the reason for the appointment request) but will likely receive a call back to schedule. You may transmit images but be advised that it can be difficult to determine the nature of the problem from a photograph and, of-course, a diagnosis can never be made by email (as with a phone call). You may email important documents or information such as your pets diet or medications. Other veterinary hospitals can also email copies of records, etc., as needed.

TRANSFER OF MEDICAL RECORDS

You may request a copy of your pets records at anytime – please allow 48 hours for us to prepare them. If you are transferring to another clinic, we can also send them via fax or email should you prefer. We may need proof (at least oral) that you have authorized this as we must comply with hippa regulations. If you are transferring to another clinic due to moving or because ownership of the pet has been transferred to someone else, please let us know. NOTE if you transfer away to get a non-referral second opinion, to have wellness or non-referral procedures performed, or if you are dissatisfied with us, we stay fired (you cannot transfer back and we will not provide any future veterinary services beyond immediate emergency care).

OUR FEES FOR OUR SERVICES

With some exceptions, all visits will incur a fee. Payment is due at the time care is provided with no exceptions. We accept Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express for credit cards. We also accept personal checks and cash. Personal checks will not be accepted as post-dated! Returned checks will generate a returned check fee based on what we are charged by the bank. We have the legal right to enforce collections for payments not received for our services. You should understand and discuss fees, especially to care provided beyond the exam.

We do not allow payment plans! Too often numerous veterinary practices are left with debt because payments on a bill have not been made.

There are several ways to reduce the cost of the veterinary visit while maximizing wellness for your pet:

  • Wellness plans are available for all stages of your pets life (please ask) – these include screening and provide discounts on medical or urgent care visits as well as discounts on procedures – core vaccinations such as rabies are free to wellness plan participants.
  • Pet insurance to help cover the cost of accident/illness – they also offer wellness riders – True Care recommends PetPlan: https://www.gopetplan.com.
  • OR start a pet health savings account on your own – need to make a claim – look in the mirror! Set aside money monthly to help cover veterinary visits.
  • The only discount we offer is veterans – this is 10% off of medical/surgical and dental services but does not include medications or prescription diets. We must have proof of veterans status out of respect for those who have served and the veteran must be the responsible party (or spouse of) paying the bill (not the third cousin removed).
  • IN some cases, it may not be necessary to run “every test known” – (sometimes called the “university approach”) – we can discuss your pets needs and target a diagnostic plan if finances are limited – but be advised that tests are pieces of a puzzle – the more pieces you have the better chance you have of determining what the picture actually is.
  • True Care makes every attempt to keep the cost of medications and prescription diets as low as possible. While online sources can be cheaper we cannot recommend them for a variety of reasons).

Other options have been tried to help pay for services, including Go Fund Me pages for raising funds to treat your pet to Hope Before Heaven. We may be able to guide you regarding these.

UNHAPPY WITH US?

The doctors have worked at many clinics – this happens everywhere. Please point out any concerns you may have with our staff (including the vets) or our services PROMPTLY. If you are not happy about the bill STOP and ask at the time you are paying! We can discuss these issues in private. If you feel you have been treated disrespectfully WE NEED TO KNOW! Working at a veterinary office can be stressful for everyone.

Good people have very bad days and may not mean to be rude or condescending. While there is very little in the way of excuse for poor client services, people are not perfect and we will make mistakes. When we make mistakes, we would prefer errors in greeting people or in billing, rather than medical or surgical ones. Should you wish to transfer care away, just request records – no questions asked (unless we are asked by another clinic or a phone request (within hippa regulations). We give everyone the chance to come in and vent to us if desired.

Dr.Ross + Dr.Hill, owners of True Care Veterinary Hospital

After working at other clinics in the past, we knew we wanted to offer a different level of service and care for our clients - especially how they were treated. We offer treatment options, fair pricing and care we would expect for our own pets and especially enjoy educating our clients. We enjoy doing this every day at True Care and the clients and "their kids" are thrilled!