Long Beach Community Spotlight: Bixby Animal Clinic
The last few years have been a little bit difficult, but we’re finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Our animals never stopped needing medical care, and veterinarians and their staff were able to make changes and adapt. It wasn’t easy, but they made it work, and pet parents everywhere are so glad they were able to.
We’re so excited for all of the Long Beach-based animal businesses that aren’t just surviving… but thriving.
We wanted to take some time to feature one of the amazing animal clinics that has provided services to the Long Beach Area since 2005. They are in the middle of the huge undertaking of expanding their business and their services.
We were lucky enough to get a chance to interview Dr. Kristina Naef, Medical Director of the Bixby Animal clinic. She filled us in on some of the exciting changes that are happening at the clinic and talked to us about some of the challenges the clinic had to manage in the face of expanding a facility during a pandemic.
PW: Tell us a little about the history of Bixby Animal Clinic. How long has the practice been open? How many veterinarians and employees are on staff?
KN: Bixby Animal Clinic was started in November 2005 by Dr. A, who practiced alone for many years until he started bringing on additional doctors.
Currently, our practice has 8 veterinarians with about 40 support staff. We also have two sister hospitals nearby – Lakewood Pet Vet and Lincoln Animal Hospital.
PW: Why did you decide to expand the facility? Was it due to space limitations or did you see a need in the community for more specialized care?
KN: We decided to expand the facility after an opportunity presented itself to purchase the adjacent buildings. With our expanding client base, as well as increasing the number of doctors/staff, we were very quickly outgrowing our space.
Our long-term goal is to transition to a 24-hour clinic, with access to various specialists, in order to better serve our Long Beach community.
PW: What was the square footage before the expansion? How many exam rooms were there before the expansion?
KN: Prior to our expansion, our building was a little over 3,000 sq feet, with 3 exam rooms. The new building once complete will be over 6,500 sq feet.
PW: Will the expansion roll out in phases?
KN: Phase 1 recently finished, and we completed moving into the new portion of the building. This includes our large treatment area, two surgery suites, ICU, isolation ward, radiology room, lab area, a collective doctor’s office, and two managerial offices that are currently being used to house our front office staff and managers.
Phase 2 is in progress and, once complete, will consist of 8 exam rooms, a spacious lobby, and our pharmacy area. We also have another building that is currently being utilized in part by our administrative team. We are leasing the remainder of our administrative space to Animal Derm Clinic, while they renovate their own building where the Tea Room currently resides.
PW: When is your estimated opening for the expansion?
KN: May 2022 is our estimated completion of Phase 2, however, this may change depending on the rate of our progress! Our hope is to be fully open to the public in May or June 2022.
PW: What changes to the facility can we expect to see?
KN: In addition to the cosmetic changes and extra space, we have also updated a large portion of the equipment that we use on a daily basis.
We have a new x-ray machine, ultrasound, two operating rooms, and improved monitoring equipment.
Our exam rooms will be updated and will also include a separate “grief room”, which allows us to provide a more peaceful and private experience for those pet parents dealing with saying goodbye to their beloved pets.
PW: What new specialties and services will the expansion allow you to provide?
KN: We are in the process of hiring an internal medicine specialist and we hope to add a full-time boarded surgeon in the future as well.
Animal Derm Clinic will operate next door to our building once their construction is completed sometime next year.
We also hope to offer additional specialty services and advanced imaging, such as rhinoscopy, endoscopy, and CT. Stay tuned for updates moving forward!
PW: Can you tell us more about your patient packages and who they might be right for?
KN: We have several patient packages that pet parents can take advantage of!
For new, pediatric pet owners, we have our puppy/kitten packages, which include all diagnostics and wellness services that our doctors recommend for young pets. This package covers the initial vaccine series, deworming, flea prevention, fecal testing, and more!
On the other side of the age spectrum, our Wellness Package is a great deal for healthy, older pets to screen for illnesses with blood work, fecal testing, and full-body radiographs. Early detection is a key component to the successful treatment of common illnesses seen in geriatric pets.
Lastly, our diagnostic package is an excellent option for pet parents dealing with a sick pet. This package provides a discount when a doctor is recommending both comprehensive blood work and radiographs to aid in the diagnosis of an ill pet.
PW: You’ve opened an Urgent Care, how has that been and what purpose does it serve? How do pet owners get treatment for their pets at Urgent Care?
KN: Our Urgent Care department has been an amazing success, and we are so thrilled to be able to offer this service to our clients. It was borne out of an immense need to see sick pets for same-day appointments.
Since COVID hit, the veterinary industry has been extremely overburdened by the influx of new pets that the public has been adopting in rising numbers. Clinics around the country were unable to keep up with the increased demand while dealing with a shortage of staff and veterinarians. ERs were closing their doors because they were at capacity and no longer able to take on additional sick pets.
In order to ease the burden of our local emergency and specialty clinics, we decided to add on an Urgent Care service to our hospital. If a pet owner is dealing with a sick pet, they can call our office and bring their pet in immediately to be seen by one of our urgent care doctors.
All urgent care appointments are drop-off, as the wait may be substantial depending on how critical a patient is. We triage all our urgent care patients upon arrival, which means that we immediately assess any patient coming in, and they will be examined by the doctor based on how stable they are.
Highly unstable, critical patients will be prioritized, and more stable patients may have a slightly longer wait, depending on how many cases we have at any given time.
PW: Pet owners are still not allowed in the facility. Do you expect that to change any time soon?
KN: We expect to officially open our doors again to pet parents as soon as Phase 2 of our building is complete.
Initially, we instated our curbside policies due to COVID, but once we moved into the renovated Phase 1 portion of our building, we had to continue curbside due to lack of space.
Phase 2 includes our exam rooms, so as soon as we have that portion of the construction completed, we are excited to invite pet owners into our building for face-to-face appointments.
Some pet owners have expressed that they enjoy the “drop off” style of appointment, so we will most likely keep this option open to owners, especially for urgent care appointments that may have a longer wait.
PW: Have you noticed any differences with a Drop Off Only policy? Are pets any different with their owners not around?
KN: We have noticed some pros and cons with drop-off appointments in these last two years. Personally, I have noticed that many pets are less likely to snap or act aggressively during an exam without their owners present. Often, our pets are very protective of us and may act differently when we are not around.
One challenge I have struggled with curbside appointments is the inability to show owners certain diagnostic results. Previously, we were able to bring owners into a room to show them x-ray findings or lab results. Now, we must rely solely on our ability to describe pictures and abnormalities to owners, which can be challenging at times!
I have also found that many owners enjoy being able to drop off their pets, go run errands or go home and then pick them up when they are done!
PW: Can we look forward to a similar expansion at your sister clinic Lakewood Pet Vet?
KN: Lakewood Pet Vet is currently undergoing expansion as well! They hope to be finished with their construction within the next year.
PW: What part of the expansion is the staff most excited about?
The staff is very excited to be finished with construction!
We have been dealing with dust, loud noises, water shut offs, and technical challenges for over two and a half years now.
Our cat lovers are very excited for our cat room, which is a quiet space designated for low-stress handling of our feline patients.
PW: Anything else you’d like to share with our Long Beach community?
We would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to our Long Beach community for supporting us during these challenging times.
So many policies changed due to COVID, and we understand the immense stress that our entire society has been under these last two years. We so appreciate our clients for bearing with us during construction, curbside appointments, and longer wait times. It is our hope that we can make it to the other side better than ever and continue to provide quality, compassionate care to our community and their beloved four-legged companions.
We want to thank Dr. Naef again for taking time out of her busy schedule to interview with us. Dr. Naef and Bixby Animal Clinic, we appreciate everything you have done for pets in the community, and we look forward to seeing how the clinic looks after the expansion.
To learn more about Bixby Animal Clinic and the services they provide, stop by their website.