Background + practice
Animal Hospital of North Asheville is a full service veterinary practice serving the dogs and cats of Asheville, NC, as well as Weaverville, Hendersonville, Black Mountain and all of Western North Carolina. AHNA has been open since November 1977, when husband and wife DVMs David and Betsy Thompson built the first 1,500-square-foot hospital (even painting it inside and out themselves!) and began the practice with one staff member.
Over the years, the practice staff and square footage grew until 2011, when the space was totally renovated inside and out, culminating in its current glass, modern appearance. Technology systems also got an update, and the practice now has 29 oxygen drops in the hospital, a new active waste gas system, a camera system, an energy recovery system for energy conservation, and 42 computer work stations throughout the hospital.
Today, AHNA’s team is made up nine full-time veterinarians (including one Board Certified in Internal Medicine and one Board Certified in Feline and Canine Medicine), as well as 12 Registered Veterinary Technicians, 12 Veterinary Assistants, 10 Client Care Team members and three members of the Management/Admin Team.
Why AHNA stood out
AHNA received a total of 18 nominations, many from colleagues singing the praises of their Practice Manager, Joe Miele. Co-worker Melissa O. said: “Joe makes sure that everything in this building works properly, from the water faucets to the oxygen tanks to our central vacuum. He works long hours (he even worked overnights as we prepared for our AAHA inspection) without complaint and cares very much about the safety of our staff. One time when I was working an overnight shift alone and the alarm randomly went off (no real threat), he called me every 5 minutes until he got here to make sure I was okay (and this was at 4am)!”
Each nomination spoke of the caring and compassionate nature of the staff, so it was immediately clear the practice has heart. Upon looking a little deeper, we realized that it also provides cutting-edge treatment and an exception level of service to their two- and four-legged clients.
For their devotion to their bettering their community; their dedication to staying on the cutting edge of veterinary medicine; their commitment to their team; their passion for educating their clients using both modern and traditional methods; and their emotional investment in the work they do every day, from leadership on down – Animal Hospital of North Asheville is Petplan’s 2014 Practice of the Year.
In their own words:
What attributes set the practice apart as a hospital?
“We have been AAHA-accredited since 1979, and we live the AAHA standards every single day. We are Living Wage Certified and have the Superior Service Award from Angie’s List.
We are very proud of our efforts to eliminate stress associated with our veterinary care, whether it is a dog or a cat, most recently achieving the Gold Standard for a Cat-Friendly Practice. We have totally separate areas for cats and dogs with the exception of radiology, ultrasound, surgery and dental surgery, which are strategically located so that cats do not have to see a dog to get to them.
“We are also somewhat unique in that we do not separate pets from the people they love during treatments or hospitalizations. Since we opened, we have encouraged clients to accompany their pet for any non-anesthetic procedure. Clients are welcome at all times (as long as their pet is not undergoing general anesthesia), and we have glass pods in our treatment room to accommodate the client and patient. We provide all-night nursing care each week night with shifts of staff so that staff are constantly attending to pain control and patient care. We provide Saturday morning hours as well as Saturday and Sunday urgent care hours for our patients, and evening hours until 8:30 p.m. each week night.”
How does your practice help instruct clients about pet health at the clinic?
“Each veterinarian has an Exam Room Assistant that they work side by side with day in and day out. It is always the same person, and some veterinarian/exam room assistant teams have been together for 10 years. Our clients form close bonds with both their veterinarian and their veterinarian’s assistant, which enables the assistant to do much of the wellness education very effectively both on the phone and in the exam room.
We allot 20 to 30 minutes of veterinarian time for each wellness exam (depending on age), but the assistant also spends an additional 15 minutes with the client which lengthens the appointment and adds additional education for the client to benefit the pet.”
A bit of fun
What is the funniest pet name your team has heard? Our own Dr. Matthew Goetz recently adopted a precious, very elderly dachshund who is named Frankenweinie.
Tell us about a favorite clinic tradition: Dr. Amy Plankenhorn writes an original version of “The Night Before Christmas” every year that includes something about everyone on staff. She reads it at our holiday party each year. It is always great!