By Amy Plankenhorn, DVM
Do you remember where you were in the summer of 1987? Ronald Reagan was still President, the Iran-Contra affair was breaking, and Michael Jackson was Bad. And three (young!) women were joining the staff of Animal Hospital of North Asheville. In June, Norma Morgan joined the client care team after having worked as a dental assistant. Two weeks later, Kelly Brown became part of the technician team having just graduated from tech school as a Registered Veterinary Technician. And finally, on July 1, I became the “new doctor” of the group, two weeks after graduating from veterinary school.
Dr. Plankenhorn and Kelly
We came to AHNA at an exciting time; the practice was busy enough to be able to add more staff and another doctor. Although Kelly and I had our school training, we were inexperienced but enthusiastic. Traditionally, summer is the busiest time of year in veterinary practice, and in those days before we had the excellent types of flea products that are available now, summers were even more challenging. We had to learn a lot, and learn it quickly! Fortunately, we all had a lot of help and mentorship and were welcomed with open arms by coworkers and clients alike.
As the years have gone by, we’ve become some of the experienced members of the team. Some of our colleagues have come and gone, while many have been by our sides through all of our happy and sad times. Drs. Dave and Betsy Thompson, Dr. Warren Riggle, Mary, Lynne, and Carla were already here when we came. In fact, overall our staff of 44 each average almost 10 years of service here at AHNA. Norma, Kelly and I have seen the addition of ultrasound, endoscopy, laparoscopic surgery, advanced dental care, and new medications. Computers have changed our ability to get huge amounts of information, and have made our record keeping easier and more accurate. It’s still hard to believe that we’ve watched our coworkers’ kids go from birth to graduate school when WE haven’t gotten any older! What hasn’t changed over the years is the commitment to providing excellent medical care while putting the comfort and welfare of our patients first.
I asked Kelly and Norma their thoughts about our 25th anniversary at Animal Hospital of North Asheville. Kelly said, “I can’t believe they’ve kept me here all this time! Seriously, though, I love having been here long enough to know our patients through their entire lives. We see them start as puppies and kittens, on into old age. It’s also been great to see how medicine has changed and how much more we can do.”
Norma added, “I enjoy welcoming our clients into a place that feels like home, like they’re becoming our family members. It’s as if we’re the pets’ aunts and uncles that are here to help them, and support them in an environment that’s not ‘work’ but family. I also love making a difference for people and animals.”
I totally agree with both sentiments! I feel like my clients and my patients are my friends, and I love seeing what peoples’ pets mean to them. I also enjoy the constant variety of veterinary medicine and the opportunity to learn, laugh (and sometimes cry), and help my patients every day. You’d think after 25 years at the same job, things would seem routine, but each day is a challenge that I look forward to meeting. And I feel so fortunate to spend every day with caring, talented people who have become my Asheville family.
I wonder what will be happening in 2037……?