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West Orange Times & Observer Saturday, Jul. 28, 2018 1 year ago

Veterinary emergency clinic opens in Oakland

Veterinary Emergency Clinic of Central Florida’s West Orange location is its fifth in the area.
by: Danielle Hendrix Associate Editor

While the entire country celebrated Independence Day a few weeks ago, Veterinary Emergency Clinic of Central Florida simultaneously celebrated the opening of its fifth location.

Situated off West Colonial Drive in Oakland, VEC Central Florida’s newest emergency 5,900-square-foot veterinary clinic aims to serve residents of West Orange and Lake County. Its opening is a response to a need for local veterinary emergency services in the area — something that has been in the works for a couple of years, said hospital administrator Patricia Reynolds.

“I feel like it’s in a very needed area for us, because this area has grown so fast, and we’ve dealt with our clients havinga to choose between Lake County (in Leesburg) or going to south Orlando,” Reynolds said. 

VEC has locations in Casselberry, Waterford Lakes, south Orlando and Leesburg. Reynolds has been with VEC since its first clinic in Winter Park.

“We opened in 1975, so we’ve been here for 43 years now,” she said. “It started from the ground up; I think there were 20 doctors that started the practice and now 170 own it. We started in Winter Park — our initial clinic was there, and we grew and built clinics in Casselberry and south Orlando. In 2005 we built Leesburg, and in 2015 we built Waterford Lakes.”

About 170 actively practicing veterinarians from around Central Florida own VEC, which serves Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Lake and Volusia counties. VEC has a rotating staff of veterinarians and critical-care veterinary nurses. Reynolds said that number includes about 100 veterinary technicians and receptionists, 10 full-time veterinarians and about 50 relief and part-time veterinarians.

VEC’s Oakland location is fully equipped with lab equipment, X-ray capabilities, oxygen, anesthesia and more.

“We’ve got everything you need for emergency medicine — a full surgery room, X-ray (capabilities), full lab equipment, ultrasound, oxygen capabilities and anesthesia,” Reynolds said. “We don’t do vaccines, spays or neuters like the regular veterinarian. … We don’t do any regular day-practice stuff, but anything someone is having problems with their pet and wants to come in for, we’ll take care of it. 

“(We see emergencies such as) vomiting, diarrhea, eating a foreign body, bloating, if your dog collapses or has respiratory issues, animals hit by cars, snake bites and, unfortunately, this time of year, we see a lot of heat strokes,” she said.

VEC treats dogs, cats and pocket pets but has the ability to call in a veterinarian for exotic animals and a specialist for ultrasounds. It is equipped with a generator so that if a hurricane or particularly bad weather affects the area, it will be open 24 hours. Only two of VEC’s other locations are also equipped similarly — Casselberry and Waterford Lakes.

“(The opening) has been very busy and hectic, but it’s neat,” Reynolds said. “We’ve been through it a few times now that this is the fifth practice, but the community seems welcoming and happy to have us here. Definitely being here for the clients and patients during a difficult time (is rewarding). … It’s great to have those cases that you do save, and you see the happy results from the client. It touches home.

“It was exciting to see (the Oakland clinic) open on the holiday and be around for the clients,” she said. “I started here in 1991 when we were just one clinic in Winter Park, so it’s been (great) to see the changes over the years.”

Danielle Hendrix is the Associate Editor for the West Orange Times & Observer and the Windermere Observer. She is a 2015 graduate of the University of Central Florida, from which she earned a bachelor's degree in journalism with a minor in world comparative studies. ...

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