How to be an excellent referring veterinarian to Solutions-Veterinary Hospital

20 Sep How to be an excellent referring veterinarian to Solutions-Veterinary Hospital

This is a guest post from the Dumb Friends League Solutions-Veterinary Hospital.

It is estimated that within the Denver metropolitan area more than 240,000 animals are cared for by people living in extremely low-income households. Considering this figure, a monthly caseload of 1,000 patients would meet 5% of the need in our community. To maximize our impact and help as many people and pets as possible, we ask for your partnership in selecting appropriate cases for referral. Working together we can help more of our community members avoid economic euthanasia and shelter relinquishment of their beloved pets.

Our philosophy

Solutions–Veterinary Hospital has five guiding principles:

  • Prevent animal suffering: Provide affordable wellness services and education.
  • Alleviate suffering of animals in our community: Offer affordable, fixed cost medical care to address pain and discomfort.
  • Maximize our impact: Our treatment decisions will be based on providing a good quality of life and not on providing the longest life possible. Our goal is to help as many animals as possible rather than doing everything for a few.
  • Enhance the dignity of those we serve: We understand that asking for help can be difficult and we seek to create a respectful experience for all our patrons, regardless of their personal circumstances. We offer services based on an honor system which is posted in our lobby- a Sign of Respect.

The Dumb Friends League Solutions–Veterinary Hospital exists to prevent and alleviate suffering in pets whose caretakers would otherwise be unable to provide this care. Out of respect for our clients and out of concern of creating barriers when documentation is challenging, we serve our clients on an honor system. If you can otherwise afford to provide care for your pet, please obtain that care from one of the excellent veterinarians in our community. Care received at this hospital is made possible by donations intended to create a safety net so no pet suffers.

  • Work collaboratively with the veterinary community: We seek to partner with all of you to offer access to veterinary care to all who need it. Working together, we can affect positive change across our state.

Scope of care: What to refer

SVH operates within a limited scope and does not offer specialty care. Different from specialty referral practices, the hospital is not equipped to offer advanced diagnostics or surgeries. Our treatment plans are based on the most efficient path to creating a good quality of life for as many animals as possible. Counseling clients about our limited scope ahead of referral is tremendously helpful to creating a positive experience for them and their pet. Limb fractures offer a common example of this scenario. In order to alleviate suffering and prevent relinquishment, we offer clients low cost, donor subsidized amputation procedures. However, clients unwilling to consider amputation for their pet are not well served with a referral to SVH as we do not offer advanced orthopedic surgeries. Similarly, patients with advanced neoplasia may be offered palliative treatment but will not receive chemotherapy or surgery. Aligning expectations with services offered allows the hospital to focus resources on helping as many pets as possible while minimizing client confusion and frustration.

Clients with medical and surgical cases who cannot afford treatment at your practice but have at least a fair prognosis without intensive care should be considered for referral. We frequently treat parvovirus, urinary tract diseases including urethral obstruction, dental disease, mass removals, pyometra, and many other conditions.

Due to the high volume of daily walk-ins and emergencies we must occasionally turn away patrons and their pets because we simply cannot meet the demand. Whenever possible, we ask that you work with your clients to find affordable treatment plans for them at your own practice. When this is not feasible, we also encourage establishing relationships with other low-cost veterinary clinics in your area so that your client has multiple options for care.

How to refer

We understand that your time is valuable. Our streamlined referral process does not require specialized forms or client qualification. To refer cases, simply email a brief summary of the case and medical record to svhreferrals@ddfl.org. Our client service team works hard to respond to every inquiry quickly. For many routine procedures we are booked out several months in advance, particularly dentistry.

Wellness services

One of the guiding principles of SVH is the prevention of suffering, and many resources in our veterinary community go toward treatment of preventable diseases. For example, in an average month last year, there were more than 50 cases of parvovirus at the PetAid Animal Hospital (the predecessor to SVH). A similar investment in vaccination and education can greatly reduce the amount of animals suffering, euthanasia and shelter relinquishment. To affect this change, SVH has begun to offer wellness clinics. Vaccines, microchips, and heartworm tests are offered after a brief physical exam. If, during this exam, health concerns are identified, the patient will be referred for a comprehensive exam at SVH. By offering these services at very reasonable cost, we hope to make a significant impact in preventable disease, including the zoonotic risk of rabies.

Pricing structure

SVH pricing is based on a set structure rather than providing an estimated range of cost. A vomiting workup is $150, even if additional diagnostics are needed after initial exam. An advanced dental procedure is $450, regardless of the number of individual extractions. For those we are serving, knowing exactly what they will owe makes it possible to plan and save for care. The same is true for vaccinations. We know clients of limited means are at times making a choice to only vaccinate for rabies or a combination vaccine when they are not able to afford both. By offering a flat fee of $20 for all necessary vaccines, the client can follow the recommended guidelines and fully protect their pet. For specific fees, clients are asked to set up an exam and consultation.

We are proud to be your partner in care for the underserved veterinary community, and we hope you will find SVH to be a valued resource.

For questions about our services, we invite you to contact Sharon Thomas, Practice Manager (sthomas@ddfl.org).