Photos Cameron Flaisch
If and you recognize the importance of the health and well-being of your beloved furry friend, you would cringe at the thought of leaving them alone, overnight at a vet’s office during an emergency. However, this has been the reality of Northwest Georgia residents, as there are simply no “emergency” pet clinics available for our four-legged family members.
This means that if an accident with your pet occurs after hours, several steps are required before reaching a veterinary office. Oftentimes, you’d have to call a local veterinarian, have the staff contact the doctor, meet at the office, have a doctor see your animal, and hopefully get them stable enough to leave them with no staff to keep watch.
For most pet owners this is a daunting process that essentially puts one of your favorite wet-nosed children’s lives at risk.
Many of the Rome clinics have lived through the burden of these emergencies, as they are the ones who pet owners call after having worked a 50 to 60-hour schedule, and will not always be there to take care of your faithful companion in times of dire need. Dr. Dan Pate has partnered with other clinics in the area to offer an answer to after-hours complications with animals.
“West Rome Animal Clinic gets about six to ten emergency calls a week. When you start multiplying that by the various clinics around us, for example, in Centre, Ala. where the veterinarian gets around ten calls a day, it adds up,” explains Dr. Pate, head veterinarian at West Rome Animal Clinic. Dr. Pate has recognized this problem for a very long time, and for over a year he has been working diligently to bring together multiple clinics in support of the idea of a 24-hour clinic centrally located in Rome, Georgia.
Yes, you heard right. Rome is the new home of a pet ER (the equivalent of Redmond or Floyd Hospital for humans), and it is called the Northwest Georgia Veterinary Emergency Center.
The Northwest Georgia Veterinary Emergency Center (NGVEC) is the brainchild of Dr. Pate at West Rome Animal Clinic, Dr. Daniel Todd of Mount Berry Animal Hospital, and Dr. Dave Caldwell of Culbreth Carr Watson Animal Clinic. The project has moved along quickly as the trio dug deeper into the world of emergency vet clinics. “We are the three largest clinics in town, so it was understandable that we would need all three offices in order to make this idea successful. We went out to dinner and spoke about it, and we decided that we would like care options for our animals after hours, nights, weekends and holidays,” says Dr. Pate.
Dr. Pate and friends crunched the numbers, scoped out an area in their community, and spoke with other emergency clinics such as Mountain Emergency Clinic in Blue Ridge, Cherokee Emergency Vet Clinic and Cobb Emergency, in order to figure out what kind of population those clinics serve, as well as what kind of population Rome has that could be helped by a 24-hour
At the monthly Northwest Georgia Veterinary Medical Association conference, Dr. Pate, Dr. Todd and Dr. Caldwell put together a presentation calling veterinary offices in Floyd County and surrounding areas to action.
“The day we met with the Northwest Georgia Veterinary Medical Association was the day we knew that the Northwest Georgia Veterinary Emergency Center was real. We went into the meeting with a goal of raising around half a million dollars, and we left with just that,” raves Dr. Pate.
The $500,000 raised allowed both Dr. Pate and Dr. Todd the freedom to purchase the building that now houses the NGVEC. Formerly a dentist’s office, the new building has been completely gutted and modernized by an architect who specializes in veterinary design. In order to meet the needs of the 34 veterinarians and 17 clinics from Rockmart, Calhoun, Cedartown, Cartersville, Summerville and Centre, Alabama, the space holds state-of-the-art equipment and is accessible to all doctors on call. With a brand new roof, the Center holds all equipment such as an x-ray machine, ultrasound, anesthesia and surgery room, isolation for pets with communicable illnesses, as well as a
Another approach that Dr. Pate believes prosperous is the upstairs conference room that was built to hold around 50 to 60 people. The partners want a room to bring together the local veterinarians and clinics. “This room is essentially a place where members of the Northwest Georgia Veterinary Medical Association can convene, while bringing the vets and owners of the various clinics together so that they can see what is happening at the emergency center, make sure they know our doctors, make sure they like the way things are running and more. This is just one of the ways we are trying to keep everyone involved in the process,” says Dr. Pate.
Keeping the emergency center fully accessible to every single vet and clinic in the areas served is the number one goal that Dr. Pate believes will make this center as successful as they hope to be. By bringing together the veterinary community, this ultimately helps pet owners and their little ankle biters, as there is now a place for them to go during emergencies.
“We did not want any vet to own more than 20 percent and did not want any clinic owning more than 30 percent because we did not want this emergency center to have only two or three people controlling it. We want everyone to have a voice. As it turns out, no vet owns more than 10 percent which is what we are most excited about. Our ultimate goal was to bring the veterinarian community in Rome closer,” says Dr. Pate.
The NGVEC is set to open to the public on May 1st. The Center will have three full-time emergency veterinarians who will be in the office during nights, weekends and holidays so that no animal has to spend a night alone during an unplanned crisis. The emergency clinic will not be a regular veterinarian’s office, as it is simply for emergencies only.
“It is so humbling to me that Rome’s vet community is coming together for the good of the animals,” says Dr. Pate. “That is the key to this entire process. The Center has brought us closer together, and has caused us to work very hard as a team, and I believe that this beautiful facility will be something that Rome can be proud of.”