MESA, Ariz.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--1st Pet Veterinary Centers – Mesa was named the 2016 Hospital of the Year in the national Veterinary Economics design competition. When the award was announced, judges named new waiting room concepts, comfortable aesthetics, and the use of natural light as design features that made 1st Pet stand out from other contest entrants. We caught up with some busy pet parents to find out what they thought about the award and were surprised to hear how their veterinary experience at the award-winning facility measured up to human healthcare facilities they have visited.
Audrey Parets, owner of Spiritude Restorative Therapies for Women, has been putting off some routine healthcare for herself ever since her doctor retired two years ago. Frustrated with the way she’s been treated during her search for a new doctor, she half-jokingly suggests that 1st Pet should expand their services to include human medicine – then her problem would be solved. Other clients agreed, citing the office flow, overall atmosphere, and personalized attention as reasons they feel envious of their pets’ visits to the doctor.
Whether sitting next to another human who’s coughing up cooties, or dealing with the chaos of having “everyone out in one waiting room, barking and yelling at each other,” as Al Dreher describes some visits to the vet, the clients we interviewed preferred 1st Pet’s approach to the usual waiting room discomforts. Al, a retired engineer and parent to felines Raisin and Razzy, notes that extra exam rooms, called “pet care suites” at the new location, allow pets and owners to be taken directly back to private rooms. In the event of a delay, separate alcoves for waiting dogs and cats keep inter-species tensions down. Witnessing traumatic cases can be another source of stress, but Reannon Stewart says “taking triage right into a room” is one of the “subtle touches” that help keep her frequent 1st Pet visits comfortable.
The many visits (sometimes twice weekly) are to help prevent the need for knee surgery for Halle Berry, Reannon’s three-year-old Yorkie, through rehabilitation therapy (like physical therapy for humans). She says the atmosphere at the new Mesa office is “wonderful” and “a lot better” than her own doctor’s office, which makes all the difference being there so often. The therapy sessions, which helped Halle progress from not using her leg at all to now enjoy walking and running, typically happen in the Sunrise Pet Care Suite. She contrasts that setting to being told “you’ll be in exam room 8 . . . you’re patient number 865” during her own health visits. Natalie Keierleber, who found 1st Pet’s 24-hour emergency clinic during an after-hours cat crisis, made a similar comparison saying “some human hospitals . . . feel very clinical, but this feels exactly like a spa.” Natalie listed a number of other features that made the hospital’s ambiance soothing and relaxing: large windows that provide ample natural light, comfortable seating, complementary food and beverage trays, transparent fish aquariums in the suite walls that allow a view into the hallway, and a computer screen photo reel of clients’ pets.
The clients we interviewed wish they had these best-in-class amenities at their own doctors’ offices, but the thing they find most enviable is the quality of staff at 1st Pet – something they rarely find in human care. Reannon describes 1st Pet staff as having a “level of calmness” that allows them to diffuse concerns and stressful situations. Natalie tearfully describes the extra care given during the final hours of her dog Ranger’s battle with cancer: staff members answered all her questions, helped her be as involved in the process as possible, did not hesitate to get down on the floor with dog and owner, and gave her space and time for grieving and closure. She says “they truly care and it shows. It’s not forced; it’s not fake.”
At the end of our interview, Audrey sums up what it is that she enjoys so much about 1st Pet and has not been able to find as she searches for a new doctor. She says “just feeling cared for” is all that she really wants. Until she finds that for herself, she is happy that at least her cats, Marceau and Mishka, have a welcoming care facility where “walking in makes your stress drop down a notch.”
About 1st Pet Veterinary Centers:
1st Pet Veterinary Centers – Mesa is one of three veterinary hospitals, with additional locations in Chandler and Phoenix. All three are AHAA accredited and provide 24/7 emergency, specialty, and general practice veterinary care. Founded in 1989, 1st Pet continues to serve veterinary needs across the Valley with nearly 150 caring team members.