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We got fired by our veterinary clinic, Coldwater Animal Hospital.

This is the end result of my having completed a survey that I was sent — a survey in which I was very candid and left my real name on (rather than do it anonymously).

In 1991, when we moved into our house, I was pleased to find a veterinary clinic just a mile or so away from the house.  We had a beautiful all white cat (with BLUE eyes!) and I began my relationship with this facility at that time.  About 12 or 13 years ago, back when Lisa and I first got together, Dr. Christina Nemcheck joined the practice (it might have even been before that).  We fell in love with her immediately.  She’s a very vivacious, outgoing, caring individual who was always sensitive to not only the needs of our pets, but to our needs as well.  She knows that sometimes people’s circumstances change and that they don’t always have the money for some things, and she always tried to work with us in a way that we could afford.

Almost seven years ago we had to put our beloved Tigga down.  She had masses in her insides that it was determined was most likely cancer.  We made the agonizing decision to not extend her life with cancer treatments because we felt the QUALITY of her life would be seriously degraded.  Dr. Nemcheck agreed that it was the most humane and loving thing we could do for Tigga.  When she gave our old girl that injection, there were tears in her own eyes.  This is why we entrusted the care of all of our animals to her — she clearly loved all animals, and they didn’t have to be her own in order for her to feel the sting of their death.

Although we didn’t intend it, Idgie came into our lives just a short month later.  Dr. Nemcheck was obviously excited about Idgie — she loved the name we had given this new little creature, and was clearly delighted with the little ball of super-soft fur that came out of that carrying case.

Four years ago our youngest cat, Sadie, was in real trouble and ended up needing surgery.  We had to take her to Animal Emergency Services because it was 4th of July weekend and Coldwater wasn’t open.  We had a horrible experience at AES and whisked Sadie away from there immediately, entrusting her to Dr. Nemcheck for post-operative care and follow up.  We could not have asked for better care for our little fur baby.

Two years ago, we began to think that Simba was diabetic.  We were concerned enough about some things that had been happening that we called to have him seen as soon as possible.  Dr. Nemcheck was on vacation and we agreed to see Dr. Korte.  Dr. Korte was rough, gruff, and initially argued with us about the possibility of Simba being diabetic.  In his defense, Dr. Korte said that Simba “…presents as a normal, healthy cat.”  But we insisted that the urinary accidents he was having, along with the sweet smell of the urine were cause for concerns.  Dr. Korte finally agreed, and took Simba “in the back” to check his blood glucose levels, which returned at around 400.  He was diabetic.  Not knowing much about feline diabetes, we allowed ourselves to be talked into some specialized food for diabetic cats that was, of course, highly priced but our later research showed that it was nutritionally inappropriate for a cat with diabetes.

We did some research on “the protocol” for feline diabetes and followed that for a short period of time (a couple of months).  Dr. Nemcheck wasn’t really happy with that but she patiently explained to us how the pancreas works and that she felt that what we were doing was not forcing his pancreas to work properly.  We listened to her and it made a lot of sense even though “the protocol” made sense, as well.  We decided that our vet was the source to which we needed to listen and so we discontinued “the protocol.”  We’re happy to say that, after a rocky start, Simba is a different cat today than the one that saw Dr. Korte two years ago, all due to Dr. Nemcheck.  Dr. Nemcheck didn’t take it personally when we started buying Simba’s Arthrogen online.  She knew, and understood that it was way cheaper that way.

I learned to do Simba’s blood sugar curves myself, and emailed them to Coldwater when I had done them.  We gave him his insulin, his Arthrogen, watched his blood sugar levels, and did everything Dr. Nemcheck asked of us.

Back in September or October I called for a refill on Simba’s prescription for insulin.  It had been a year since he had last seen Dr. Nemcheck, so they asked that I make an appointment for him and, in the meantime, they would fill the prescription.  I picked up the insulin, which I noted had increased in cost by about $50.  When I called them back and asked them about it, they said that there was currently a “shortage” of Prozinc and that was why it was so much more expensive.  I don’t believe in so-called “shortages” of medications — I believe the manufacturers “manufacture” these shortages.  But, what could we do?  I looked around online and found the pricing to be just as the vet’s office had charged us (within about $10).  A week later, something came up (I don’t remember what), and I called to reschedule the appointment I had made for Simba.  As Dr. Nemcheck wasn’t going to be available when I was available later that week, I told them I would call back when I was able to determine when one of us could break loose and take him to the vet.  It totally slipped my mind (irresponsible, I know).

When I called last week to ask them to ready a new vial for us, the girl on the phone told me that Simba’s prescription had expired and that he would need to be seen before they could issue another vial.  Dr. Nemcheck was booked up for that week, and was not going to be in this week.  They offered to book the appointment with Dr. Korte and I told them “No, I’d rather wait for Dr. Nemcheck — I’d take him someplace else before I take him back to Dr. Korte.”  After all, Dr. Korte is, in my opinion, an arrogant dick.  I was scheduled for an appointment 3/18 at 5:10 with Dr. Nemcheck and she was supposed to call me the next day to tell me if she would grant another vial of insulin before that.

As promised, Dr. Nemcheck called at noon last Tuesday.  Instead of the warm, bubbly person I was used to speaking to, I found myself feeling like a child being scolded for being naughty.  I was reminded that I missed the last appointment and I gave my word that I would be there next week.

Monday I stopped by to pick up the insulin.  I needed syringes as well, so I expected that I would be paying about $220 or so for the whole shebang.  I learned that the insulin had risen in cost AGAIN and was now $193.  What else could I do? I needed the insulin, and I had given my word.  I paid and left.  When I got home, I opened my laptop and started doing some pricing research.

  • 1800PetMeds $130/vial plus $20 shipping — Total Cost: $150
  • VetDepot $105/vial plus $20 shipping — Total Cost: $125
  • Drs. Foster and Smith $95/vial plus $25 shipping — Total Cost $120
  • VetRXDirect $110/vial plus $20 shipping — Total Cost $130
  • Allivet Pet Pharmacy $95/vial plus $25 shipping — Total Cost $120
  • Heartland Vet Supply $100/vial plus $25 shipping — Total Cost $125

There are more, but I think you get the idea.  I also called another local veterinary clinic and found it for $140.  It was explained to me that the online pharmacies buy in greater bulk quantities and therefore get better pricing than a smaller vet clinic.  I get that — truly I do.  But Coldwater Animal Hospital was clearly gouging on the price of insulin.

Either Monday or Tuesday night I got an email asking me to rate my experience with Coldwater Animal Hospital.  So I did.  I basically called “bullshit” on their pricing of insulin and said that MY PERCEPTION was that they had lost sight of their mission and that money was their first priority.

When I got home yesterday, there was a pink slip in the mailbox.  The USPS had unsuccessfully tried to deliver registered mail — nobody was home to sign for it.  Lisa got it this morning — it was a packet from Coldwater Animal Hospital telling us that, effectively, they were “firing us” as clients because, as they put it, I had indicated that I didn’t trust the decisions of the doctors.

So, a few things here:

  1. Why send out a survey to your clients if you’re not willing to hear what they have to say?
  2. Dr. Korte’s termination of our professional relationship (he’s the owner) was clearly a childish knee-jerk reaction to what I said in the survey.
  3. Dr. Korte reinforced my perception that he’s an arrogant dick in taking this action.
  4. Dr. Korte merely cemented, in my mind, that he couldn’t defend the outrageous pricing of the Prozinc and, rather than discuss it like an adult, he gets rid of his clients.
  5. This has made me realize that maybe I didn’t “forget” to reschedule Simba’s appointment last Fall — maybe it was Freudian that it slipped my mind.  The difference between Dr. Korte’s pricing and everyone else’s is an office visit for Simba.  We only have a set amount of money that we have budgeted for the year for our pets.  We spend every dime we have available in that budgeted amount.  If I had an extra $50, I would take Simba in twice a year instead of once.  Isn’t that better for the animal rather than better for the vet clinic’s bottom line?

We’ll miss Dr. Nemcheck, to be sure.  Other than that, it’s no skin off our nose.  There are a slew of veterinary clinics in this area.  Today I called a couple in Henrietta and one in Livonia.  The one in Livonia doesn’t sell the Prozinc but issues a prescription and a list of reputable places that sell it.  One Henrietta clinic is considerably lower than Coldwater with the Prozinc but indicated that they don’t stock a lot of it so we would have to give them an extraordinarily good lead time to procure it, otherwise it would be costly for them to order and have it delivered overnight.  They advised it would be cheaper for us to get it online and they would be happy to provide us with the names of reputable online dealers.

See?  How hard is that?  And why does Coldwater Animal Hospital need to charge $193 per vial?

Because they think their clients are stupid?

Because it seems that they have, in fact, lost focus on what their original mission was?  If you look at their web page, their tag line is “Caring makes all the difference.”

I don’t believe it.  I think money makes all the difference for them.