Pets mean different things to different people. Listening to what the owner needs and wants makes lasting relationships.
A unique vision that was initiated in 1968 by eight practitioners has continued to grow and prosper under the direction of Dr. Tom Mann, one of the current owners of Metropolitan Veterinary Hospital.
Dr. Tom Mann
The idea was to pool resources and thereby create a network of veterinarians. The idea evolved. In 2004, Metropolitan grew from 5,000 square feet into a 24,000-square-foot facility that allowed 44 practitioners to offer specialty care to clients.
Mann has been involved with the hospital since 1973, when he was an intern from Texas A&M. He is board certified in feline medicine, however his intrigue with new technology propelled his mission to provide the best medical care for clients' pets.
He has been in support of local veterinarians sharing surgical suites and equipment in order to have greater ability to buy state-of-the-art equipment since he heard of the idea. Mann says he is proud Metropolitan can service just about any pet owner's need.
Practitioners at the Metropolitan Veterinary Clinic share the cost of the building, equipment and its staff to provide more affordable care to its patients.
It's about sharing, Mann says.
"We don't all need our own surgical suites or $30,000 X-ray machines," he says.
The most recent piece of equipment is an underwater treadmill that will be used for the practices' many dogs in need of physical therapy.
"Dogs recovering from injuries can use the treadmill, which has adjustable water levels to the relief of toy breeds," Mann says.
A special room is reserved for necropsies; an isolation room to keep diseases under control, and cats have their own ward to keep anxiety levels down for less dog-friendly felines.
The second floor is mainly for staff use, including a locker room, employee lounge, library, offices and a conference room.
The hospital has a human resource director to handle the daily needs of such a large staff — approximately 65 employees.
The hospital is accessible 24-hours a day, seven days a-week and boasts specialists in the areas of:
"Equipment at the practice is shared by all of the doctors, who have united to access some of the best equipment in the state," says Jack Advent, executive director of Ohio Veterinary Medical Association.
While looking on as a Cocker Spaniel patient has a tooth extraction, Mann notes that the post-operative infection rate at the hospital is very low.
"There is a low post-operative infection because of the level of cleanliness," Mann says. "People are cleaning here all day long."
Many veterinarians struggle with balancing a healthy home and work life. It is no different for the staff at Metropolitan, Mann says.
Mann, like many of the other veterinarians at the hospital, has a private practice, which he attends to from 8 a.m. until noon, then he checks in on patients at Metropolitan. At 3 p.m., appointments start up, and Mann makes the drive back to Akron-Peninsula Veterinary Office, his home practice. At 5:30 p.m., he checks on patients at Metropolitan one more time.
"I come in on Saturdays, too," Mann says. "Sundays, however, are reserved for my family."
Because the veterinarians spend widely varying portions of their time between the veterinary hospital and clinics, other staffers at Metropolitan aren't taken for granted.
Mann says he believes the hospital's success is due largely to teamwork and dedication.
"The receptionists spend any spare minute they may have giving attention to patients that might be scared or need a little extra love," Mann says.
Another factor in the hospital's success is the ability to know clients and what they think is important for their pets.
"Pets mean different things to different people," Mann says. "Listening to what the owner needs and wants for their pet will make for lasting relationships. There have been times I have treated family pets for years, then children from the family return with their pets."
Organizing the needs of the practice is an all-day process, with restocking, cleaning and appointments a constant activity at the hospital. Mann says he keeps his focus on the animal he is treating at the moment and blocks out anything else.
"The task at hand requires my full attention and is what needs to be done to respect the client and the animal," Mann says. "I can't be thinking about the case that didn't end well when I am treating another animal."
As with many veterinarians, he sometimes must balance quality of care with a client's ability or willingness to pay for the best that veterinary medicine has to offer.
"It's hard sometimes to have the ability to make the animal better, but not being able to because it isn't economically feasible for the owner," Mann says.
But most people want the best care for their pets, and being able to provide services that make that possible is how the veterinarians and staff have created a successful practice.