Oct. 28, 2009: Bright future for veterinary hospital

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To The Editor:
I have a crippling neurologic disease that has come at a terrible time of my life. Five years after moving here and five years after opening a thriving and busy veterinary hospital, I have succumbed to a rare disease known as Twelfth Rib Syndrome. After two years of trying to get a diagnosis, as well as getting the pain under control, I thought that I had accomplished that with a procedure that would need to be repeated two to three times yearly for the rest of my life. At that point I was able to rehire staff and reopen the practice. What I was not counting on was the aggressive recurrence of the disease, and my inability to get it back under control with the methods that previously had worked. I seemed to go back to square one.
There will never be a “cure” for the illness. It will afflict me for the rest of my life. However, a new procedure, called a Spinal Cord Stimulator implant, has been suggested and after a 10-day trial I can honestly say that it gave me 99 percent relief and return to function that I am seeking. The difference was truly profound and dramatic. I am scheduled to undergo the permanent implant in mid-November, after which there will be a lengthy recovery.
During my illness I have made a serious effort to provide continued veterinary care for this area. Initially I focused on hiring temporary vets to fill in. In several parts of the country “relief vets” are tremendously popular. Here it did not work. Eventually I was hiring veterinarians from as far away as Florida to help cover the practice.
So this time tactics where changed, advertisements were placed, and a more permanent vet was searched for. And again, this ultimately led to failure. In the very few instances where someone was a right match for the hospital, there was always the same problem that kept the deal from going through: no one wanted to relocate to Margaretville. In the long run, that reason alone trumped every prospect that came to see the practice. It takes a special someone to live in a rural, remote area. I am still searching and things may change suddenly.
As the only veterinarian within a 30-minute drive I felt that it was only fair to share where the future of the hospital stands. The future of Crossroads Animal Hospital is excellent. Based on the trial that I had with the Spinal Cord Stimulator, there is no reason to believe that it should not allow for my return to work after I have healed from the surgery. And maybe, just maybe, that right person who appreciates what this area has to offer will accept my invitation to stay, and we will then be able to meet your needs as a multi-doctor veterinary practice.

Kevin Oppenheimer, DVM
Arkville