T’was Christmas Day at the Waffle House; a Time for such Connections, Discoveries, and Eventual Ponderings (Warrior Poet Mental Yoga 222)

I went to the Waffle House (WH) for brunch on X-mas Day and ended up sitting at the highbar. Normally, I read while caffeinating and ingesting my scattered, smothered, diced, peppered, and capped, along with my meat choice du jour, but on this day I happened to make a joke with a couple as they sat down next to me, and that easily lead to our conversation over the next hour.

Though the conversation rotated between the three of us, I spoke more often and more directly with the man because he was seated adjacent to me, while his wife sat on the other side of him. I cannot say for sure, but it seemed to me like we were all in the same general age range.

They had heard an indirect comment that I had made with a good friend who happens to be a WH staff member, which intrigued them to ask me about my vocation. (Under normal circumstances, I tend to guard that info from casual public knowledge for multiple reasons.) After I had explained that I was a veterinarian, the other man responded that pre-vet had been his first love, his first focus in school, but that after he had been seriously advised on how hard it was to get in and then through such a program, he had given up on it and gone in another direction. I believe that direction was a business degree, but I cannot state so definitely. We talked for a little while after that about being animal lovers, and then, about some of the challenges currently bombarding independent veterinarians and the whole spectrum of veterinary medicine.

Our conversation moved on naturally and comfortably towards the principle of retaining independence in our lives, living in less populated areas while still appreciating Atlanta for what it does offer, and a passionate love for all outdoor activities, including mountain biking, hiking, and backpacking.

At some point mutually agreed upon about also appreciating the outside in warmer weather, it came up that this couple, was headed down to their beach house, which they had personally built on some island in the vicinity of Gulf Shores and/or Orange beach. From the way they described it, it sounded glorious and heavenly in regard to my beach preferences. I was happy for them and felt that they deserved to be so successful to be able to afford and enjoy such a piece of property.

Soon, the conversation turned around a switchback once more and together we stumbled into the wilderness area of the Cohutta (GA), home of Jacks River Trail, the Conasauga River Trail, and Bear Creek MTN Bike Trail, amongst other treasures. Our knowledge rivaled one another about the entire area, but his definitely bested mine a bit. We talked about the trails, hiking and biking, the crashes, getting lost miles off of the map, unknowingly stumbling into the Mountaintown floodplain basin, and the bigass Poplar tree that serves as a sentinel for those riding on the Bear Creek Trail.

Eventually, my new friend(s) revealed that he actually owned a cabin in the Cohutta in an area that I am familiar with and truthfully very fond of. And then, he revealed that he also owned a second cabin that stood in a different, more remote and secluded region of that wilderness area. The second cabin is harder to get to than the first and its location does not even allow him access to an electrical connection, but nonetheless, it is still a second cabin and land that he happens to own in one of the most beautiful and feral areas of Georgia. He more than graciously offered to let me use either of the cabins and before parting, we exchanged numbers and emails. They seem like very genuine, extremely cool people, who just get it. We even discussed maybe getting together to force ourselves to ride our mountain bikes again. I like the idea. I like their spirit. I loved the conversation and the happenstance of spontaneously meeting people like that in one improbable moment or strand of theoretical time, space, and reality. T’was Christmas Day and a time for such connections, discoveries, and eventual ponderings.

I would be lying though, if I didn’t also say that I did experience a smidgen of irony and jealousy in this communion and our shared tale of choices and the consequences those choices had brought about. A lifetime ago, my newfound friend turned away from veterinary school because it was too hard and difficult to gain admittance and then to survive the tribulation associated with earning such a degree, but it would appear his financial gains related to such a decision, have far, far surpassed anything that comes even remotely close to my own. I can barely take a vacation and I am essentially homeless, while he (and his wife) owns a primary house with considerable acreage, a beach house, and at least two other cabins in a pristine Wilderness Area.

I accept the choices and the associated consequences related to such that I have made. I also do not wish ill will upon these new friends of mine. I am happy for them. If I had to hedge a bet, I would guess the world is better with them in it. But I wonder, I really do wonder, about our world and the reward system of business that people have fostered and caused to thrive.

I imagined once I was accepted into veterinary school, I would be the one making a little extra money, the one having a little extra family time, the one with maybe an extra house or two, both modest of course. I never imagined or conceived in my wildest dreams, that financial reward could work inversely upon someone who competed and survived in a challenging professional atmosphere, and who also just wanted to put his vocational expertise and responsibility foremost over revenue and salary. I never imagined that was a real possibility for the longest time.

I wonder if I was presented with the real option of switching places with my newfound friends what I might do. I have to admit that I’m very tired of suffering for trying to honorable, noble, and skillful in my profession. Those houses and getaways are quite alluring to me. I also wonder if they might switch places with me? Would that first love of interest and desired accomplishment hold over the material assets and accumulations that resulted from less of a challenge, if he knew, knew, he could attain the title of Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and the associated responsibility of such?

Jeff Cribb , Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and Lover of the Great Outdoors

2017

Compliance with Style and Laughter, even when it really doesn’t mean a Damn Thing

Note: This is my non-fictional response to a Workers Comp Insurance Company that performed an assessment of Veterinary Care Center to ascertain what safety risks or safety compliance issues might exist, and thus, need to be addressed. This assessment appears to have been performed by this company because of a “slip and fall” accident that occurred at VCC previously. Some specifics of that “slip and fall” will be revealed below. The previous Workers Comp Co. jacked our rates up after settling with the “fallee” because despite the clear facts, it was simply cheaper for that company to settle with the “fallee” than to defend the truth and my honor. So, as some ignore reality, I must comply with silly lists that will never be long enough or contain enough clauses to protect my honor or liability, but I can do it with style and make myself laugh in the process. May you laugh as well, whether it be from humor or the absurdity of it all.

To whom it may concern;

I believe that I have addressed all of “your” concerns as listed in the Oct 17, 2013 letter that was sent from ABC America to Veterinary Care Center.

First, I do want to bring something to your attention that I believe your “Loss Control Department” is not aware of or has chosen to ignore. Absolutely, none of your recommendations have or had anything to do with, or would have prevented the “2012 slip and fall incident due to a wet floor” that was referenced in your letter. The employee that suffered from the “2012 slip and fall incident due to a wet floor” had a pre-existing knee condition that she had previously and openly discussed with multiple employees at Veterinary Care Center, as well as her inability to afford the medical care that was required to have such a condition evaluated and treated. Of note, is the additional fact that in the week prior to our pre-existing knee condition “claim winner” suffering from the hazardous workplace conditions at Veterinary Care Center and “falling immediately next to a bright yellow mop bucket, tattooed with a bright red label warning of caution”, she had received a verbal warning that her work ethic was poor and that she was facing impending termination if her work ethic did not improve. While, none of your bullet points would have prevented this event in any way, what would have appropriately and rightly balanced this employees’ sham act, would have been the previous worker’s comp insurance agency, defending me via the actual facts related to the “case”, instead of choosing settlement because it was more financially prudent for their interests. So, while I attempt to comply with your list, forgive me if I laugh a little bit in the process. When truth and defending such yields to the ease of allowing fiction to rule simply because it is more financially advantageous to your company, no list or employee handbook will ever be long enough to protect me.

2013-09-01

We have 3 employees. I am directly involved with the supervision of all employees. Employees are instructed to use common sense relating to all of the categories listed. If an employee fails to display enough common sense or aptitude to protect them or maintain the safety of other employees, they will be terminated. In any matter that an employee questions or perceives involving a possible risk, they are specifically instructed to speak with me directly before proceeding. The staff is prohibited from any activities I perceive involve a high level of risk.

The staff is made aware of your extensive safety library at www.ABCAMERICA.JOKEcom should they want further training in common sense and a different, objective source for safety considerations and recommendations.

2013-09-02

We do not have regular (or recent) accidents to have regularly scheduled meetings about. We have 3 employees. The “slip and fall” referenced above has been discussed in great detail with my entire staff. The staff understands completely that the previous worker’s comp insurance company totally sold out and did not represent my interests. The entire staff knows that the “claim winner” was a player who orchestrated events to my detriment and her benefit. The entire staff understands that the “accident” was a joke.

The staff understands they are perpetually suppose to report any thing pertaining to anything or any event on the hospital grounds or in the hospital that could lead to an accident or a problem with safety.

2013-09-03

Motor vehicles are very rarely used pertaining to clinic business. The driving records of all employees are consistent with responsible individuals that drive safely. Employees with a questionable safety driving record will never be involved with operating a motor vehicle for company business.

2013-09-04

Henceforth, no employee who operates a motor vehicle in the very rarely performed task of company business, may use a cell phone in any manner whatsoever while operating the vehicle. There are no exceptions to this rule.

2013-09-05

All employees are to wear footwear that is in good general condition and good tread condition. All employees are to check their footwear daily to assure that their footwear remains in good general condition and in good tread condition. If any footwear theorized to be slip resistant is found in actuality to be less than slip resistant by an employee, said footwear shall be replaced by the employee with footwear that is in actuality slip resistant.

2013-09-06

Your picture of the dog bathing tub (referencing this concern), clearly shows a slip resistant rubber floor mat sitting in the tub. The mat is normally kept in the tub unless a bath is being performed so as to not create a tripping hazard for someone who is just walking by the tub. The floor next to the tub and within the kennel is to be kept as dry as is feasible at all times. Any item creating any sort of a tripping risk is to be removed immediately from any floor. See your picture.

2013-09-07

The fire extinguishers (2) have just been serviced and have been deemed adequate for a period of one year. Continued annual inspection will occur. Appropriate tags are attached to each extinguisher. See attached picture.

2013-09-08

All items have been removed from at least 36” from the front of the electrical panels to assure for rapid access should an emergency develop. This area will be maintained as such. See attached picture.

2013-09-09

All gasoline containers (oil containers, etc.,) have been moved to the exterior of the building. Some lawn equipment is being stored in one closed room within the clinic that no one except Dr Cribb is allowed to enter. Employees are not to breathe gasoline fumes or attempt to ignite these same fumes at any time, even when the fumes are outside of the building. Employees are not to approach with a 10 foot radius of me while I am mowing the lawn with the lawn mower because they might trip on whatever substrate is under their footwear and fall under the mower, to lose life or limb. See attached picture.

2013-09-10

We do not have a ladder. We do have a step stool that I just inspected and found to be structurally sound. I will continue to inspect this step stool monthly. It will be culled should its structural integrity become compromised.

2013-09-11

All employees are advised to not stand with both feet at the same level for too long a period because this will lead to excessive static loads upon their legs. Employees are instructed to sit down if they feel like their legs are too fatigued. No employees are currently complaining about this issue being an issue and no employees are currently requesting anti-fatigue mats.

Sincerely,

Jeff Cribb DVM

The Ugly Truth Behind Pet Insurance – Part 2

Before I move on to a few other points, I want to stress something that is very important, one more time. Insurance masquerades as a savior to the people; an outside force that sweeps into the medical field to defend you from the injustice of simple economics. Somehow magically, the insurance companies hypnotize the masses with the comforting illusion that they can lower the expenses within the entire system, once you choose to sign up for their plan. This is what I always hear people implying or saying directly, that “Pet insurance saves me money.” The 2006 study by Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI) that I quoted in Part 1 of this article, clearly stands in direct opposition to this perceived benefit of insurance. Again, those clients with pet insurance, 1) schedule 40 % more appointments, 2) spend double on veterinary care over the lifetime of their pet, and 3) have a 41% higher stop-treatment dollar amount for care. Thus, the truth is exposed. It makes me think of a person who gets monthly coupons from some big corporation (clothing, etc.,), that save them 10-20-30% on a given monthly purchase. So, the customer proceeds to make a monthly purchase that really wasn’t required or needed, believing they are somehow saving money each time. At the end of the year, the customer has made 11 or 12 purchases that they would have never made without getting the enticing coupons. Lets reverse the percentage and look at the reality a different way. The client has spent 70-80-90% of the normal purchase price for item(s) over an entire year that they did not need. Unfortunately, many of those people, still believe they saved money. This is exactly the same type of hypnosis that occurs with pet insurance.

CareCredit is a program that I believe works in a very similar manner. CareCredit can be found in many veterinary hospitals, dentist offices, and optometrist offices. Again, it trumpets the savior card…here to help the customer….here to help you when the unexpected occurs. It is essentially a financing company that can serve as a middle man between the veterinarian (etc.,) and the client, when the client cannot afford a service, product or procedure. Sounds great, right? How about the truth instead? Per a CareCredit advertisement to veterinarians, a 4 year study, involving 500 veterinary practices, found that clients using CareCredit, “invested” (love the term) 47% more in their pets health. It further stated that the hospitals accepting CareCredit, generated 19% more medical revenue and 17.2% more total revenue. I guess you can call that a good thing. I would call it deceptive entrapment and a huge enemy of balanced synergistic veterinary medicine.

The true reasons that veterinarians push or offer these programs should have already become very obvious to you, and it has nothing…nothing…nada to do with helping you or your pet. It has everything to do with increasing their bottom dollar and revenue stream. And, you could argue why not? Why not allow the people to deceive themselves and over-spend on medical care? After all, these programs are “helping” people, right? Bullshit…I have to say it…have to…clear, unmitigated bullshit…deep, up to your chin, smelly bullshit. These programs help no one in the long run, no one except the CareCredit corporation and pet insurance corporations, and everyone else will suffer as a result. 1) I have already shown that client cost increases. 2) Veterinarians (etc.,) initially love the programs because for a limited time these programs will grease their pockets, but eventually, the fore mentioned corporations will start throwing their weight around against the veterinarians, excluding the DVMs that they cannot control or “get better pricing from.” This removes choice from the system. 3) Insurance companies will also start imposing exclusions to their policies for “certain breeds” or “genetic predisposition” or “pre-existing conditions.” 4) The system will become extremely more complicated, because what was once a two-party system (you and the DVM), will morph into required communication through, what I predict will be a less-than-interested middle man (corporate representative), and that will also create much more “processing” work for the veterinary hospital. 5) Veterinarians will become less and less concerned with “normal or appropriate” budgetary concerns and ethics that should always be considered. They will become more apathetic in the system because they will have less control and less profit. So, why not prescribe more tests and procedures that really don’t need to be performed and extend medical care in patients that should be euthanized, because it will generate more money for them, and if no one else cares, why should they. 

We have seen all of this before. The writing is on the wall and it has been. This is exactly what happened with human medicine, and make no mistake, it will happen in veterinary medicine. There is no way to stop the process. The corporate forces are too strong and good at what they do, and the people are too sheepish to listen and wake up. I included corporate veterinary hospitals, and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) also as specific contributors to this problem. Corporate vet hospitals, play all the games I have previously discussed (misdirection/manipulation of the public), usually more than their smaller brothers. centralized profit and business becomes the over-riding goal instead of medicine leading the way. The AVMA has been selling DVMs out for some time. The shortened version of their link to this ugly truth is, as always, money. The AVMA has unofficially joined forces with corporate medicine and insurance companies to create a trifecta, that will work together in the future, producing multi-conglomerate entities working in unison to squeeze money from the public. The independent, small business, wildcard DVM, capable of free thinking and action, will be eliminated. This squeeze money of the future will benefit the “good old boy veterinarian shareholders”, currently jockeying behind the scenes, to control as much of it as possible. A greater hierarchy of masters or godfathers or puppeteers will emerge to control the entire “veterinary medicine conglomerate” for lack of a better term. I believe all of these events will steer us directly in the wrong direction and veterinary medicine will suffer greatly as a result, but nonetheless, people will still love their pet insurance and believe it to be a precious thing.  

Jeff Cribb DVM