The head of the National Commission on Veterinary Economic Issues (NCVEI) had some sobering advice for veterinarians this year. Presenting at the AAHA Yearly Conference’s Trends Executive Edge session “Crunch and Grow Your Numbers,” NCVEI CEO Karen E. Felsted, CPA, DVM, CVPM, told the audience that practices can no longer count on raising fees alone to deal with the tough economic times.

"We are passing along our lack of productivity and efficiency to clients in the form of fee increases, and that is not sustainable," Felsted said.

The session was attended by close to 200 people, or nearly 10 percent of registered attendees at the Phoenix conference. ...more
You probably don’t have time to read through the 407-page, $787 billion “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.” But the economic stimulus package, signed into law by President Obama on Feb. 17, contains some important information for individuals, as well as small businesses such as veterinary practices.

If you are looking to secure a loan from the U.S. Small Business Association (SBA), or purchase some new equipment, now might be the time to do so.

The package includes $730 million for the SBA, and makes changes to the SBA’s lending and investment programs. The Obama Administration also announced this week a series of measures directed at making more credit available to small businesses, and several small-business-friendly tax initiatives. ...more
Hundreds of thousands of people in Kentucky, Arkansas and Missouri lost their electricity in last week’s devastating ice storm, and veterinary practices were not immune to the damage. Some fared better than others, however.

Ron Eby, DVM, of St. Francis Veterinary Clinic in Green Forest, Ark., said his practice was without electricity for a week. The storm hit Jan. 26, and Eby’s practice lost power the next day until Feb. 2, he said.

Fortunately no animals suffered at the practice. Several animals were being boarded there, but because the building rests on a 4,500-square-foot concrete slab, the indoor area remained at 62 degrees even with no heat.

“The worst thing for us was the loss of a whole week’s work,” Eby said. “It’s amazing how dependent we are on the phones and electricity.” ...more
As states look for additional dollars to make up budget shortfalls, Arizona provides a novel approach: Sweep the budgets of individual state boards — and take more than is actually there. This year, the state OK’d an appropriation of more than $600,000 from the Arizona Veterinary Medical Examining Board fund for the state’s general fund. But here’s the kicker:

“They’re sweeping about 150 percent of our budget,” said Arizona VMEB Chairman Richard Crisler, DVM. “We’re struggling just to keep things going.” ...more
As the approaching winter causes a lull in the demand for rabies vaccine, now may be a good time to get you and your staff vaccinated.

The rabies vaccine supply has been very limited this year, and the pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) has been difficult if not impossible to come by. Even many veterinary colleges have been unable to vaccinate their first year students. However, the vaccine is now available directly through Novartis on a case by case basis, officials say.

Demand for the post-exposure vaccine has been about 1,500 doses per day, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That demand, coupled with the fact that only one of the two manufacturers of the vaccine is currently producing the vaccine, led to the limited supply situation. ...more
As the U.S. economic climate continues to darken, another unfortunate victim is appearing: the pet health-care financial assistance fund.

There are dozens of these funds, which accept donations to help pet owners pay for veterinary medical bills. Many are state-specific, but there are only a few national organizations that provide money for pet owners in need, and as of this week, five of them are no longer accepting applications for assistance.

“We’re hurting. We’re all out of money,” said Jacki Hadra, founder of In Memory of Magic (IMOM). “We’re getting more applications than ever, but fewer donations.”

Claire Gaudiani, a professor at New York University’s Heyman Center for Philanthropy and Fundraising said that these organizations can expect to see a drop-off in donations.

“Historically there is a decline in giving that is associated with a decline in wealth-building,” Gaudiani said. “It’s different in different periods; it’s hard to predict how severe this will be.” ...more
Hurricane Gustav’s arrival in the United States on Sept. 1 marked an important milestone in companion animal history. For the first time, pets and service animals were allowed to evacuate hurricane-threatened areas with their owners. And at least one group of veterinary technicians was an integral part of it.

The Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards (PETS) Act, signed into law by President Bush in 2006, requires pets to be included in disaster evacuation plans.

OSU instructor Dana Call, RVT, VTS (ECC), was the leader of a team of technicians and students that were sent to the shelter to attend to the non-human evacuees. She received a call from Scott Mason, DVM, coordinator of the Oklahoma State Animal Response Team, putting her on alert that the evacuees were arriving Sept. 1. Call said about 1,800 people arrived at the Oklahoma shelter on Labor Day, along with about 30 cats and dogs, a cockatiel, a fish and two gerbils. ...more
The shortage of rabies vaccine in the United States continues, and manufacturers of the vaccine are now requiring pass codes for new orders.

The supply of human rabies vaccine for post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is severely limited and is now only available through Sanofi-Pasteur, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC issued a notice on its website in late August saying that the supply of human rabies vaccine for PEP is “being used at a higher rate than expected, which may affect the near-term availability of [the] vaccine.”

Originally, Sanofi-Pasteur was out of the vaccine, and Novartis was the only company that had any of the PEP vaccine available. But Novartis now says it will not accept new orders for RabAvert except under certain conditions.

Although Sanofi Pasteur has resumed shipping its IMOVAX vaccine, it is requiring medical care providers get a “pass code” from their rabies state health official in order to secure an order. The code will ensure that adequate local exposure assessment has taken place. ...more
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