Full Range of Friendly and Expert Services Are Available at HomeCare Veterinary Clinic
TEAM WORK: Collaboration is key at HomeCare Veterinary Clinic. Veterinarians, vet technicians, and all the staff work together to ensure the best care for their patients at this private practice. “Many veterinarian practices are corporate-owned today. I wanted to have a private practice, which offers a more personal approach for patients and clients,” explains owner Dr. Patti Maslanka, VMD. She is shown at right in the foreground, with staff members, including Dr. Meredith Schepp, DVM, third from left, and Dr. Amy Schein, DVM, fourth from left. Luna, the 8-year-old pit bull/cattle dog mix, is a welcome visitor.
By Jean Stratton
When you share your home with a companion animal, it can provide great happiness, along with infectious, ongoing fun. There are challenges too. Puppies love to chew just about anything, including your favorite shoes! Cats enjoy appropriating the furniture as their preferred scratching post, in addition to climbing up the curtains for further entertainment. True animal lovers tend to take such exploits in stride.
And there can be illnesses and injuries, requiring capable and compassionate care. Having the services of qualified and experienced veterinarians is crucial to your pet’s health and well-being.
HomeCare Veterinary Clinic is just such an organization. Located at 1015 Washington Street in Rocky Hill, it has been serving animals and their owners since 1992, originally as a house call-only operation, and then at its current location since 2012.
Owned by veterinarian Dr. Patti Maslanka, VMD, it is a private practice, and its name not only reflects its original house call focus, but also its comfortable and home-like atmosphere in the Rocky Hill office. The fact that it is located in a house, formerly a private residence, adds to its unique flavor.
Upon entering, the client and patient are greeted by friendly and knowledgeable receptionists. Intriguing to visitors, the waiting room features an aquarium filled with colorful fish, and another one is home to a large solitary turtle. These are residents, not patients!
Separate examination rooms are available for dogs and cats, and there is full-scale surgery in another area.
A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Patti, as she is known, knew from an early age that she wanted to work with animals.
“I was an only child, and my family moved a lot,” she recalls. “My dogs and cats were really my friends. As a young girl, I knew I wanted to be a veterinarian.”
After graduation, she worked with vet practices in Cranbury and Kingston, and then started her house call practice in 1992. “I liked the idea of going to the animals’ homes, and also having my own practice,” she explains. “With a private practice, there is a lot of flexibility and personal attention for patients.”
HomeCare patients are mainly dogs and cats and the occasional rabbit. Most come from the Princeton, Rocky Hill, and surrounding area, and many are longtime clients, including those from Dr. Patti’s original house call practice.
All Ages and Sizes
The animals are all ages, sizes, and breeds, and come for a variety of reasons, including initial spaying and neutering, standard vaccinations (based on careful protocol), maintenance service, such as nail trims, blood tests, and general check-ups, etc. Ultrasound examinations, among others, are also available.
“We see more dogs than cats,” reports Dr. Patti. “Often, cat owners don’t bring in their cat after it has been spayed or neutered. Cats can be more stressed coming to the vet, as they like to stay in their home environment.
“We are cat-friendly, however, and we really cater to and understand the stress experienced by the feline patient. Our cat-friendly exam room has a calming cat-friendly pheromone dispenser, and this pheromone is sprayed onto the towels and clothing of the team member interacting with the patient. We also offer little cubbies for them to feel safe in, and kitty treats.”
In addition, she reports, HomeCare will become certified as a Fear Free practice. This certification provides vets with additional tools and knowledge to reduce the animals’ fear, anxiety, and stress.
HomeCare Veterinary Clinic is very focused on understanding the latest developments and treatments available, and in fact, as Dr. Patti points out, “We offer different medicines here not available everywhere else, and we make a point to be involved in continuing education.”
In that regard, specialists are invited to come to the clinic once a month for talks on subjects such as new technologies and products, and a recent workshop was held on CPR. In addition, the HomeCare vets and technicians attend seminars and conferences at other locations.
Telemedicine is another service at HomeCare, which can be very helpful when clients cannot bring patients to the office.
Another option, Teletriage, offers the opportunity to speak to a technician who has access to the pet’s medical records, and can make appointments 24/7.
HomeCare’s surgical services include state-of-the-art equipment and monitors, as well as a post-surgical recovery cage, equipped with heated flooring, and oxygen availability. The recovering patient is under direct and constant supervision.
Dental care, including surgery, is a priority at HomeCare, points out Dr. Patti. “There are more advances in dentistry today, and dental care is so important. An infected mouth can cause other serious problems.
“Dental care is performed under anesthesia, and there are two technical nurses with advanced understanding of anesthesia in the room at all times during the procedure. We have a dental cart on a par with those utilized in human dental care for cleaning and polishing.”
In addition to Dr. Patti, veterinarians Dr. Amy Schein, DVM and Dr. Meredith Schepp, DVM attend to HomeCare’s patients. An important focus is the collaboration among the vets, who can share their expertise and knowledge about specific patients.
“Veterinary medicine is a puzzle, and it is important to work as a team,” points out Schepp. “I enjoy working with the client and the patient and forming a strong bond with both. I also focus on pain management, and I am very interested in becoming certified in animal rehabilitation and pain management.”
Adds Schein, “I enjoy the communication and educating people about the reasons why we recommend different tests, treatments, and preventives to empower pet owners to make informed decisions about their pet’s health care. I also like the challenge of determining a diagnosis based on history, physical exam, and interpretation of lab tests.”
HomeCare is set apart from other practices in a number of ways, continues Schepp, including, as she points out, palliative care. “We have a very large focus on palliative care and fear-free approaches to help make every individual animal comfortable here.”
Schein agrees, noting, “We aim to educate our clients to treat our patients in a fear-free environment. We treat every patient as an individual. We work with pet parents, and spend time and develop relationships. We also have the opportunity to provide both Western and Eastern medicine.”
Palliative care, integrative care, and an overall holistic approach are important priorities at HomeCare Veterinary Clinic. Dr. Patti emphasizes a holistic view regarding her patients, stressing nutrition, the need for a healthy diet, and minimizing vaccinations.
“Diet is very important for the health of pets,” she observes. ”They should have quality food, and it should include a variety. Diet can also help control conditions, such as kidney problems and others.”
Integrative care includes the use of traditional Chinese veterinary medicine and also acupuncture. “Acupuncture can be helpful for chronic pain and disc problems,” explains Dr. Patti, who was certified in acupuncture by the Chi Institute for Animals in 2016. “The animals, even cats, can become very relaxed during the acupuncture procedure. It can really be very beneficial, and we can use it together with Western medicine.”
Palliative care is available for dogs and cats, especially older animals, who have a serious condition or terminal diagnosis, she continues. “Palliative care is the treatment of symptoms, allowing the patient to be comfortable during chronic illness or illness in which a cure is not possible. It is comfort care to improve the quality of life. We want them to be as comfortable as they can for as long as they can.”
She points out that longevity is on the rise for many pets today. ”It is increasing due to more care, new medicine, and treatment. My personal goal is that with better and more regular treatment, and pain management, we can ensure a healthy span that keeps the animal healthy with a good quality of life.”
When the time comes that further treatment will not be helpful, the HomeCare vets can provide humane and compassionate means for euthanasia. As Dr. Patti observes, “It is difficult, but it is the kindest thing for the animal. If the pet is ill and in pain, we can end its suffering.”
In addition to scheduling euthanasia at the office, she will come to the patient’s home in order to make the end of life experience as gentle and compassionate as possible.
Studies indicate that increasing numbers of people are inviting dogs and cats, also rabbits, into their homes more than ever before. What is it that leads so many of us to live with four-footed friends, whose lives most often will be more temporary than our own?
A longtime dog owner put it this way: “Not only are they company and part of the family, but they can sense your mood and be comforting. And of course, they are always interesting.”
Someone to Hug
During COVID, pet adoptions increased dramatically, with many people craving and needing animal companionship to help them navigate that difficult time. As one woman, who had never had a pet before, said, “I needed someone to hug!”
Well aware of how necessary pets are to their human companions, the HomeCare vets, who have animals of their own, are especially mindful of this special relationship.
It has meaning on so many levels, observes Schein. ”I enjoy the camaraderie of pets and their different personalities. Pets are so helpful in relieving stress for us, and are not judgmental.”
“I think we are very lucky to receive such unconditional love from our animals,” adds Schepp. “They are our companions, really part of the family, and for me, a source of comfort and happiness.”
Dr. Patti agrees, and points out the unique ability to have a relationship of trust and affection basically without words. “What I like best about animals is the non-verbal communication. And I am so glad that in my practice I am able to help a patient feel better, be happy, and live a good life.”
HomeCare Veterinary Clinic is open Monday through Thursday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Friday and Saturday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Payment plans include Vet Billing and Care Credit; also, Essential, Complete, and Premium Care plans allowing for free exams, and spreading the cost of care over 12 months.
For further information, call (609) 921-1557 or visit the website at www.homecare-vet.com.