Veterinarian Dr. Kathleen Spillane Treats Animals In Need Around The Clock
Story by Jason Stromberg
Photo by Abner Pedraza (?)
Dr. Kathleen Spillane isn’t always sure what issue your pet may have when it first arrives at the Palms West Veterinary Hospital, but after a quick diagnosis, she is ready to take care of it.
The veterinarian has treated a lot of pets needing emergency medical care, and there hasn’t yet been one that she’s shied away from.
“I’d say 98 percent of the pets that we treat here at the hospital are cats and dogs,” said Spillane, 30. “We’ve had a guinea pig with a runny nose and hamsters that need their toenails trimmed. Those are the pocket pets we’ve tended to, but the majority of the pets we treat are cats and dogs.”
Open 24/7/365, Palms West Veterinary Hospital is family-owned by Dr. Ira Grossman. Spillane is one of several veterinarians on board who can be at the hospital at the crack of dawn, or there late at night, even overnight.
“We arrive in the morning, and the doctor who was on overnight tells us about the cases that are in the hospital that morning,” Spillane said. “If there is any follow-up that needs to be done, we tend to that immediately. The more common emergency patients arrive at night.”
Spillane, who graduated from veterinary school at the University of Pennsylvania in 2012, has been working at Palms West Veterinary Hospital for almost two years, and she loves what she does.
“I’m very thorough and understanding,” Spillane said. “This career gives me an opportunity to keep on learning for the rest of my life. I like the fact that when I’m helping these pets, I’m also helping their owners.”
Seeing animals that are in need of immediate medical attention can be overwhelming and emotional at times. The toughest part is the euthanasia process. “We get a lot of compliments here for getting people through that process,” Spillane said. “We make it as comfortable as we can for the animal, and that makes it comfortable for the owner.”
If a scheduled anesthetic procedure, a surgery or a teeth cleaning needs to be done, the pet gets dropped off at the hospital and is tended to immediately. Sometimes there are more dramatic situations where a dog arrives in a comatose state.
“You have to talk to the owner and ask, ‘Why has this happened?’” Spillane said. “The dog could be paralyzed, it could be having a seizure, or it could be severely dehydrated from a heat stroke, or a gastrointestinal upset. We make sure to get your sick dog some intravenous fluids and get it as hydrated as possible.”
There are also common cat emergencies, such as when a male cat cannot urinate. Toxins can build up in the cat, and it’s being poisoned from inside, Spillane explained.
“We feel the bladder, and if it’s hard, if the cat is awake, that can be painful. We have to give the cat a catheter through the urethra and into the bladder. They need IV fluids to flush out their system,” Spillane said.
It’s not an easy job, but it’s a rewarding one for Spillane when things are successfully taken care of. No matter what the problem is, each veterinarian does his or her best to stabilize each animal. At least one doctor and one technician are present from 8 p.m. until 8 a.m., the emergency hours. Normal hours are from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day, when two or three doctors are available.
Grossman, 63, oversees the entire practice. He runs the family-owned business with his son Glen, co-business manager with his fiancé Melissa, and Grossman’s wife, Marta, who works on Saturdays. Grossman’s two other children, Neil and Andi, are currently in veterinary school.
Grossman speaks highly of Spillane. “She’s my protégé,” he said. “She’s a great vet who performs internal medicine, surgery and critical care here. She does an excellent job and has great compassion for animals.”
For Spillane, there’s rarely a dull moment at the hospital. “I like the variety here,” she said. “You never know what’s going to walk through the door.”
Palms West Veterinary Hospital is located at 556 Folsom Road in Loxahatchee Groves. To learn more, call (561) 798-2780 or visit www.palmswestveterinary.com.