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Referral service helps patients, students
By Karen Templeton
MSU Ag Communications
MISSISSIPPI STATE - The services at Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine reach far beyond the university and the surrounding community.
The Animal Health Center is CVM’s clinical service unit. It is the setting for clinical instruction of veterinary students, and it is a primary care and referral center for companion animals, horses and livestock. The AHC provides clinical services in internal medicine, surgery, neurology, advanced diagnostic imaging, anesthesiology, reproduction, equine health, and food animal health. Clients come from Mississippi, and the surrounding states.
“We work with veterinarians throughout the Southeast to provide care to patients,” said Dr. Ron McLaughlin, CVM’s Clinical Sciences department head. “We offer treatment options that may not be available at local clinics. Veterinarians handle cases that require specialized care up to a certain point and then may elect to refer their patients to a center like ours to get further care.”
When veterinarians need CVM’s expertise, they turn to clinical services coordinator Julie Burt.
“My staff and I put the referring veterinarians in touch with the CVM veterinarian they need to consult with about their patient,” Burt said. “We get the information from them to determine what services they need.”
The referral services staff receives approximately 20 consult phone calls a day.
“Often, our clinicians can help local veterinarians by doing over-the-phone or online consultations,” Burt said. “Our veterinary faculty can provide second opinions on X-rays, help determine a treatment plan, or provide feedback on test results.”
When animals are referred to the clinic for specialized treatment, Burt and her staff make sure pet owners get the care and attention they need.
“Patients come to us from as far away as Tennessee, Alabama, Louisiana, and Arkansas. They may not be familiar with the area and are often too consumed with their animal’s condition to have made plans for their trip here,” Burt said. “We help them make hotel reservations, provide them with directions to restaurants, get them connected to the Internet, walk them to the cafeteria, get them coffee, and so on. Often animals come to AHC with severe injuries and illnesses, and their owners need some attention and support. We just try to help them feel more comfortable.”
Good customer service remains a priority even after patients leave CVM.
“We work closely with the veterinarians who send us their patients. It’s really a teamwork approach from start to finish,” McLaughlin said. “We keep them informed of the care we’ve given their patients and then also provide thorough discharge instructions. We continue consultations with the animal owner’s local veterinarian for as long as needed.”
CVM students also benefit from the quality services offered at the center.
“Referral cases are critical to the AHC because they are needed for us to train veterinary students, interns, and specialty residents,” McLaughlin said. “The volume of cases helps these students gain valuable experience with a wide range of clinical issues.”
Burt said the mutually beneficial relationships between the students, faculty, and patients is vital.
“If it weren’t for the patients, we wouldn’t be a teaching hospital,” Burt said. “Building good working relationships is at the heart of what we do. It really is all about teamwork here.”
Contact: Julie Burt, (662) 325-7016