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New clinic provides GCHS a wealth of opportunities

By Staff | Sep 9, 2015

Although it’s been only just over a week the new Gulf Coast Humane Society’s veterinary clinic has been open for business, it looks as if it’s been open for months.

But take into consideration the day GCHS executive director Jennifer Galloway turned the key to unlock the front door for the first time, it was almost ready to be open for business anyways.

The new veterinary clinic, located at 2685 Swamp Cabbage Court in Fort Myers, was actually home to plastic surgeon Dr. John Bruno for years, before he donated to GCHS as their new veterinary clinic, giving the non-profit organization a huge boost in space, location, exposure and financial aid to help its shelter at 2010 Arcadia Street make ends meet.

“We are still pinching ourselves that this is really happening,” Galloway said. “This place was kept with full of love and it shows.”

Everything from the waiting area to the hallways, from the surgical suites to the exam rooms is in pristine condition. There is surgical grade flooring in the surgical suites, used by Dr. Bruno in his plastic surgery practice.

In essence, GCHS’ pet clients are being cared for in a facility fit for a hospital for humans.

“It’s good, it’s a win-win situation for both of us,” Dr. Bruno said. “It feels like we did something worthwhile. I am thrilled it worked out.”

When Dr. Bruno decided to purchased the facility for his practice, he had an actual hospital engineer plan it out for him. It was built with hospital regulations in mind and Dr. Bruno made sure to keep his offices in tip-top shape.

“He really cared for this facility,” Galloway said. “It’s just a great gift.”

The wheels of the building coming into the laps of GCHS started a bit ironic in a way.

When Dr. Bruno decided to retire and start cleaning out the building, he asked around to see if anyone wanted some of the smaller items, such as office equipment, desks and chairs.

A friend of Galloway’s and a supporter of GCHS, suggested to her to look up Dr. Bruno and see if there was anything they could use.

“We came over and picked up some of the stuff he was willing to donate and moved it back to our other place,” Galloway said. “About a month later, I received a call from the Community Foundation and they offered a chance to have a building be donated for a possible clinic and we’d be a great benefactor.

“The funny thing is, it turned out to be this building, so we had to bring all of that stuff back in.”

The new clinic has a spacey pharmacy, along with a larger office area for the staff. There are two surgical suites, including a dental suite, with all the basics having been installed.

There are now four exam rooms, as well, which had everything included, except for a stainless steel tables, which GCHS brought over.

Probably the most major action GCHS had to do, was hire a contractor to tear out all the carpet, since carpet isn’t too conducive for dogs and cats.

The surgical suites have fire-safe walls and all the oxygen lines were already installed. There is also a wake-up and recovery room for pets in spacious kennels, which were brought in by GCHS.

“The dental suite had everything installed already, which is some pretty expensive equipment,” Galloway added.

With the facility up for sale, Dr. Bruno discovered there wasn’t as much of a market for it as he hoped for. After crunching numbers, he decided on donating it.

GCHS’ name came up, but Dr. Bruno wanted to make sure the building was going to be used correctly, be kept up and going to someone who was in need of it.

“Someone suggested to me that the building would be ideal for (GCHS), which would allow them more space,” Dr. Bruno said. “This was as good a deal in which I could find, so I thought ‘Good idea!'”

Now with the major moving parts settling in, the benefits the new clinic will afford GCHS is immense.

“I don’t think Dr. Bruno realizes how important this is to us,” Galloway said. “The beauty of this place, besides it being a turn key operation, is it has four examine rooms and now we can have two doctors on. We can also do surgeries and dentals, while that is happening.”

Back in the old facility, appointments for pets were being backed up by three to four weeks.

“We knew we had to do something, and I was thinking of ways we could expand on the property,” Galloway said. “It never occurred to me to move the clinic off campus.”

With the ability to double their on-call vets and staff, along with space, the hope is to cut that three-to-four week waiting time down to one week, or at most, a week and a half.

Clinic manager Gloria Letendre was an integral component in increasing the clinic’s clientele number, with strong marketing and hiring top-quality staff.

Now, she will have the facility to start handling the influx of numbers.

“People saw that we cared for their pets and that is important,” Letendre said.

The two main reasons people bring their pets to GCHS, which offers wellness checks, vaccinations, minor soft tissue surgeries and dental, is the affordability of the care and the opportunity to help the shelter aspect.

With more space and staff, GCHS’ revenue will increase, which goes directly in offsetting the cost of running the shelter on Arcadia Street.

“We want the operations of the clinic to cover losses of the shelter ideally,” Galloway said. “Where we were at, we weren’t quite doing that. Now, hopefully the clinic can fully support the shelter.”

The centralized location of the clinic also offers clients the opportunity to drop off pets in the morning, with several main arteries nearby it. Although the clinic does not offer overnight holding of pets, it can hold pets during the day for after-work pickup.

Another improvement made at the clinic is the software being installed, which will allow easier access with online registration and email reminders of appointments.

One thing which isn’t available at the clinic is more specialized treatments and more invasive surgeries.

“We always refer clients to the private clinics,” Letendre said. “We are not in competition with the private practices, so we want to help out them.”

The ones who maybe more appreciative of the new clinic, besides clients and their pets, are the GCHS staff, who transferred over from the old facility.

There are four vet techs working at the new clinic, with office support staff and five veterinarians, with two on each day.

Space and the opportunity to help clients more, is the main attraction for the staff now.

“We have a bigger area now and we can offer a lot more to customers and a lot more to the community,” said vet tech Krista Lindenmuth.

“Being able to offer the affordability and accessibility to our customers (is a feature of the new clinic),” added vet tech Breezy Schafer.

Overall, it’s a win-win situation for all involved, as Dr. Bruno eluded to.

“This is going to be a good place to help raise more money for (GCHS), it’s going to help,” Dr. Bruno said.

With just one act of generosity, the future of GCHS has brightened a bunch, and not only for who works in the new veterinary clinic, but for those furry friends near and dear to everyones’ hearts.