From a 24 Hour Emergency Veterinarian in NJ

It’s 12:19 AM on Thursday, May 5, 2011 and Nicole, our marketing director, is going to kill me! A handful of us have volunteered to write a blog for her to post on our website to try to capture the essence of the moment as we, the staff of NorthStar VETS, experience the last few days of our time in our current 6,000 square foot veterinary hospital at 34 Trenton-Lakewood Road in Clarksburg, New Jersey. Of course, the deadline for submission was 2 days ago and I obviously missed it. The “hard” deadline she gave me after I missed the first one was yesterday, which I again just officially missed 19 minutes ago. Just one indicator of how busy things are with our pending move. Like I said, she’s going to kill me.

But, life goes on . . . and as Dr. Stobie is so fond of saying, everything happens for a reason. In the past 2 years, despite the hard work of countless people, we have seen many a deadline come and go, and yet, barring any other unexpected last minute set backs, we will be open for business at our new 30,000+ square foot hospital in Robbinsville in just 6 short days. Our Grand Opening Gala celebration is just two, yes two!, short days away.
I think back to a day just shy of 8 years ago and recall the grand opening of our current facility. I remember Dr. Stobie giving his speech thanking all the people that helped make it possible. I remember the smooth and glossy green floors (which became truly dangerously slippery when they got wet – I took a couple of very not-so-graceful headers in the early days!), the pristine green countertops, the newly painted walls, the shiny new surgery tables and lights, and what seemed like such a grandly large, open work space. I remember looking at what seemed to be a plethora of bright new computer screens that responded with lightning speed to your every command and the new comfy-looking office chairs set in front of each screen.

As our moving process has begun and we begin to empty out the current building, the toll the past 8 years has taken on the building is obvious. The floor is not so very glossy (nor so slippery!), even when freshly mopped. It’s green color is interrupted everywhere by black scratches and gouges. The walls have countless scratches and dents and areas of slightly different shades of paint where similar injuries have been spackled over. The counter tops have their own share of dings, scratches, and stains. Several of the office chairs have bum wheels. Every day the computers seem to get slower and slower and it seems like every other day another hard drive bites the dust. The “grandly large, open workspace” that seemed so spacious years ago dwindles as we add more employees and competition for an open workstation intensifies each day. These are all the signs that we are ready for our pending move; that we need to move.
Today, contemplating our pending move, I think about all the things that have changed. Of course it wasn’t called NorthStar VETS; at that time, we were known as Veterinary Surgical and Diagnostic Specialists, or VSD (a descriptive name but one’s whose initials always reminded me of some types of particularly undesirable diseases; NorthStar VETS rolls off the tongue so much easier and conjures much more pleasant images!). We’ve grown from a staff of about 20 to one of just over 80 employees with more on the way. Back then, we offered only offered specialty surgical services and emergency care. Today, our specialty services also include cardiology, internal medicine, ophthalmology, acupuncture, theriogenology , dermatology, oncology, and physical therapy, (forgive me, if at this late hour, I am forgetting anyone) with plans to add more services in the near future.

It’s funny. I can remember all the details of what we were then and compare it to what we are now but how we got from there to here, and all the details of the journey itself, seems like such a blur. But it is in that journey that the real magic that is veterinary medicine happens. In the past 8 years, we have done so many great things. We have helped countless pets in need, and by helping them, have in turn helped the human beings who came attached to them. Whether it be by diagnosing and curing patients of their illnesses, fixing their fractures and their wounds, or by helping alleviate whatever pain and suffering we can by guiding them, and their families, through the difficult journey of the ailments that we cannot fix; we truly make a difference in the lives of our patients and clients. We make their lives better and in some way guide them to a better place. The true beauty of our profession is that they, in return, do the same for us, and in this regard, our “job” is a self-rewarding endeavor.

It is important to remember also though that this magic does not happen on its own. It requires the concerted effort of a group of genuine, dedicated, compassionate, caring, kind, excellent, professional, selfless, service-oriented, and friendly people working as a team to achieve a common goal. That is what we have at NorthStar VETS and it is our greatest strength.

While the move to our new building will bring many changes and with change comes much uncertainty, anxiety, and stress, we can move forward with the comfort and certainty that we have just such a great team of people. Working together, we can accomplish anything! I, myself, have gone through different stages of anxiety, worry, and stress as we draw nearer to our moving date. In the past week, however, as I recall what we have accomplished in the past 8 years and have watched our team rally together in recent months, I see the collective efforts our awesome team beginning to come to fruition. Suddenly, my anxiety seems to have been washed away by an overwhelming sense of pride and excitement about what is soon to come and I can’t wait to see what we can do!

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