Sophisticated veterinary medicine in the HV

Sophisticated veterinary medicine in the HV
A veterinarian in Brewster in the southeast section of Putnam County is marking the fifth anniversary of his bringing technologically advanced and highly sophisticated medical services to animals throughout the Hudson Valley. Jason Berg, who was a founder of the Animal Specialty Center in Yonkers, established Guardian Veterinary Specialists in a 29,000-square-foot facility in Brewster. It opened in September of 2018 and has been steadily growing.

Guardian offers emergency services as well as technically advanced diagnostics and treatment in addition to routine care. The facility has in-house MRI, CT scan and ultrasound imaging, three surgery suites, 14 examination rooms, an intensive care unit, separate chemotherapy and endoscopy areas and much more including physical therapy facilities. Guardian operates in Brewster 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Guardian also has an emergency veterinary facility in Middletown in Orange County that is open all night and also on weekends. It also operates a veterinary office in the Bronx. Guardian’s Brewster facility recently listed 21 veterinarians as being on the regular and emergency staffs.

“We focus on pets and people,” Berg told the Business Journals. “As long as we can do better for our patients and the people that work for us that’s our primary focus. There really was nothing like this up in this area. At the time back in Yonkers, we got referrals from this entire area constantly.”

Berg said that they have veterinary specialists on staff that are available seven days a week.

“Animals don’t get sick only Monday through Friday,” Berg said. “We have seven-day-a-week neurologists, internal medicine specialists, critical care specialists. We have seven-day-a-week surgery. We’re expanding our oncology specialty. We have cardiology, we’re having a dermatologist start.”

Berg has served on the advisory board of the Westchester SPCA. He has held multiple positions with the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine and is past president of the Westchester Rockland Veterinary Medical Association.

Berg said they are increasingly using minimally invasive surgery for animals, just as it is becoming more widespread in human surgeries. Berg expressed a belief that it is one of the most dramatic improvements in veterinary medicine that he has seen in his career. Another important advance is in the use of a laser device to clear stones that may be blocking an animal’s urinary tract, thus eliminating the necessity for surgery.

Berg said there seems to be a growing demand for emergency veterinary services. Guardian works with local shelters and has established the nonprofit Guardian HEALS to help pet owners who qualify for financial assistance obtain the veterinary care they need for their animals.

“During the pandemic, even the emergency hospitals and veterinary clinics were telling people that they couldn’t see them,” Berg said, “We were getting and we still get animals from a two or three hour radius. I get them from Albany every week. We get emergencies from three to five hours away. We didn’t divert any cases throughout the entire pandemic and we still don’t. There are a tremendous amount of emergencies. We see over 30 emergencies a day on an average. The same thing with specialty appointments.”

Berg said that having the emergency facility in Middletown is a good thing because veterinarians over there can stabilize an animal so it can be safely transported to the Brewster facility for advanced treatments.

Berg said that his experience in opening the Animal Specialty Center in Yonkers was invaluable in preparing for the Brewster facility and contributed to a decision to renovate an existing building rather than build from scratch.

“Brewster is not that far but it literally dropped me in the center of where our referrals were coming from,” Berg said. “Now we’re seeing 30,000 patients a year. We have an amazing team. We’re up to over 230 employees now.”

Berg sees Guardian continuing to expand, both in terms of numbers and the variety of services it offers and complexity of conditions it can treat.

“I still want to be a veterinarian. I don’t want to give that up,” Berg said. “I still see a lot of patients. The growth for me is to continue to promote private veterinary ownership. All of our doctors have equity ownership.”

Berg said that just as in human medicine, large corporate operators have been acquiring local veterinary practices. He said that feedback from animal owners has been positive for Guardian, with about 90% providing five-star reviews.

“My goal is to basically have every specialty that’s in veterinary medicine onsite,” Berg said. “We’ll be adding a nutritionist. I want to keep growing the diversity of specialists we have so that the animals get the best care.”
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