Cardiologists on the move
to keep pets heart healthy

Dr. Herb Maisenbacher, center, with UF veterinary students Nicki Puza and Chad Bearden during a visit to a local veterinary practice.

Have ECG machine and cardiology-equipped ultrasound. Will travel.

In an effort to make specialty services more easily available to area veterinarians, cardiologists from the University of Florida Small Animal Hospital began hitting the road last year, packing up stethoscopes and other equipment to offer both mobile consultation and diagnostics to private practitioners in the area.

Initially, the group traveled monthly to the Villages retirement community, then quickly expanded to Ocala. Now the specialists serve practices in Gainesville as well.

“The idea was conceived as a way to partner with veterinarians in North Central Florida in order to allow them to offer new services to their clients while at the same time increasing our service’s caseload,” said Dr. Herb Maisenbacher, the UF veterinary cardiologist who heads the mobile service.

“In speaking with referring veterinarians, we found that many clients were willing to provide specialty care for their pets, but unwilling to travel long distances to unfamiliar places to receive it.”

Maisenbacher said the mobile service is a “win-win-win” for owners, referring veterinarians, and UF veterinary students who are on their cardiology clinical rotations.

“I like to take students with me to show them how cardiology works in the real world,” Maisenbacher said.

He added that the owners of pets needing the specialized cardiology care benefit from the convenience of being able to receive the service in the veterinary clinic they are most comfortable in, and referring veterinarians are able to offer specialty services within their own clinic.

Veterinarians who wish to receive the service simply place a phone call and submit a request form through the UF Small Animal Hospital’s referral coordinators, so that on each mobile cardiology consultation day, the UF group has a list of the clinics and patients that need to be seen, along with a brief medical history. Initial radiographs, bloodwork and any other diagnostics needed for each animal patient can be completed in the local veterinarian’s clinic prior to the specialist’s visit and reviewed during the consultation in order that all aspects of previous findings can be incorporated into the specialist’s diagnostics and recommendations.

Dr. Frances Ramirez, owner of Country Oaks Veterinary Clinic in Ocala, is one of the practices UF’s team regularly visits.

“UF’s mobile cardiology service helps us provide higher quality diagnostics performed by a board certified cardiologist. Our clients save a one hour drive and get the best care in a familiar environment,” Ramirez said. “It also gives clients another level of care for their pets.”

¬†She added, “I enjoy watching the echocardiograms being performed in my patients because I learn something new every time.”

For more information about the mobile cardiology service at the UF Small Animal Hospital, call (352) 392-2235.

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August 2011

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