Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Business

Hernando County doctor takes her pet care on the road

BROOKSVILLE

The moment she pulls into George Troublefield's driveway, JoAnn Helm is surrounded by a crowd of tail-wagging dogs. The brood isn't shy about showing their excitement, piling into her vehicle the moment she opens the door.

Driving what looks like a large recreational vehicle, Helm and her assistant, Denise Gist, arrive every year at the property to give annual vaccinations and check-ups to Troublefield's four dogs — Bronson, Hunter, Trixie and Casey. For their owner, whose work leaves little time for visits to a veterinary clinic, Helm's mobile service has been a godsend.

"I love these dogs, but trying to load them all up to go back and forth to a vet's office doesn't work for me," said Troublefield, one of two customers Helm visited Thursday morning.

"This way, they get great care and it saves me a lot of headaches."

Helm, a practicing veterinarian in Hernando County for 23 years, said she now offers its most comprehensive mobile veterinary service. And being able to deliver her expertise in a relaxed, unhurried atmosphere has helped to redefine her outlook on her profession.

"I find it much more personal now," Helm said. "Spending more one-on-one time with pets and their owners allows me to better understand their immediate needs and concerns. That was something for me that was missing before."

Helm spent 18 years caring for family pets as owner and primary veterinarian at All County Animal Hospital in Brooksville. But she began noticing that clinic's atmosphere didn't always sit well with owners of elderly or homebound dogs and cats that weren't used to the bustle of activity.

Shortly after selling her practice in 2004, Helm began thinking about a new way to deliver her services. In 2008, she and her husband, Steve, bought a vehicle specially outfitted with everything she needed to provide care, including sinks, cabinets, cages, testing equipment such as a blood analysis machine, microscope, digital X-ray machine, and even a small operating area for minor surgeries.

"Being able to offer the same services I had been in a more relaxing and open atmosphere is wonderful because I don't have to fight a clock," Helm said. "If I see an animal that needs more attention, or if the owner has questions, I now have the time for that."

Helm, who lives in Floral City, spends fall, winter and spring serving clients in Citrus and Hernando counties. During the summer months, she drives her mobile clinic to the northern Michigan community of Alpena.

"A lot of my clients are pet owners I've known for a long time," Helm said. "Over the years, many of them have also become good friends as well."

Pet owner and longtime client Ruth Potter said she was delighted to learn that her favorite veterinarian gone mobile. The owner of two cats, she recently bought a 4-month-old daschund puppy she named Kona Kai. When Helm arrived Thursday to vaccinate and provide a physical evaluation on the puppy, she was greeted with a hug.

"I haven't owned a puppy in 40 years, so there's a lot I've forgotten," Potter said. "To me, the best thing about having JoAnn as my vet is that there's no hurry. I know I'm going to get good guidance. Most vets don't seem to have the time to do that anymore."

Helm has heard that often. Because many veterinarians adhere to strict scheduling at their practices, there is often less time to discuss with pet owners issues and needs of their animals. As a result, things often get overlooked.

"If you're not educating the owner then how can you expect the pet to get the benefit from your service?" she said. "I want a pet owner to ask questions so that they fully understand what they have to do to keep their animal healthy. That takes time."

As a pet owner herself, Helm understands the personal relationship that people have with their pets. And when it comes to end-of-life decisions, she works with the owners on how they wish to proceed.

"It's so tough to make those kinds of decisions," Helm said. "We all want our pets to have a good quality of life. But if the situation calls for ending that life, I assure them it will be done in a peaceful, respectful manner."

Potter was quick to praise her veterinarian's compassion. A year ago, when Potter's 15-year-old cat, Roswell, became paralyzed, she asked Helm to come to her home to perform the euthanasia.

"I lay down on the bed with Rozzie on my chest, and we both stroked his fur while she gave him the anesthetic. He closed his eyes with love. To me, that moment couldn't have been more peaceful."

Logan Neill can be reached at (352) 848-1435 or [email protected]

     
Comments
Investor calls for Bloomin’ Brands to let Outback Steakhouse stand alone

Investor calls for Bloomin’ Brands to let Outback Steakhouse stand alone

TAMPA — A second activist investor is calling for a big shake-up at Bloomin’ Brands Inc. In a letter to Bloomin’s CEO, Barington Capital Group, a New York-based investment firm, urged the Tampa-based restaurant conglomerate to let Outback Steakhouse ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Clearwater Beach named No. 1 in U.S. by TripAdvisor

Clearwater Beach named No. 1 in U.S. by TripAdvisor

A reigning champion for sand and sunshine, Tampa Bay is once again home to what’s been deemed the best beach in the country. Clearwater Beach was named the best beach in the U.S. for 2018 by the popular travel site TripAdvisor reclaiming the crown tw...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Hillsborough commissioners ask CareerSource chief to step down or be fired

Hillsborough commissioners ask CareerSource chief to step down or be fired

TAMPA –– Hillsborough County commissioners voted Wednesday to ask embattled jobs center leader Ed Peachey to either resign or face termination over concerns the agency inflated job placement numbers with the state. Chairwoman Sandy Murman said commis...
Updated: 2 hours ago
This week food fests celebrate collard greens and Jewish foods

This week food fests celebrate collard greens and Jewish foods

FIELD OF GREEN: COLLARD FESTOn Saturday you can devote your whole day to the beauty of collard greens. Well, that’s the jumping off point. Collards are the "central ingredient" at the Tampa Bay Collard Green Festival at St. Petersburg’s Historic Deuc...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Tampa Bay homes prices soar by double-digits in January

Tampa Bay homes prices soar by double-digits in January

Home prices soared in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties in January, the highest gains in several months.Prices for single family homes also rose in Hernando and Pasco as the shortage of available homes showed no immediate sign of easing. The bay are...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Career Q&A: Nut allergy is a serious workplace concern

Career Q&A: Nut allergy is a serious workplace concern

Q: My manager has recently started eating nuts at her desk, which is located right next to mine. Unfortunately, I have a serious nut allergy, so any contact with them could produce a life-threatening reaction. Even foods which contain tiny pieces of ...
Published: 02/20/18
Yes, we have some bananas: Port Tampa Bay welcomes first shipment in 21 years

Yes, we have some bananas: Port Tampa Bay welcomes first shipment in 21 years

TAMPA — More than two decades after the last bunch arrived on shore, bananas are back at Tampa’s port. More than 3,900 pallets of Chiquita bananas from Ecuador arrived last week at the new Port Logistics Refrigerated Services warehouse.It was the fir...
Published: 02/20/18
Guess co-founder steps aside after allegations from Kate Upton

Guess co-founder steps aside after allegations from Kate Upton

Associated PressNEW YORK — Guess Inc. says that co-founder Paul Marciano will give up his day-to-day responsibilities at the clothing company until a sexual misconduct investigation is completed. Model and actress Kate Upton told Time magazine earlie...
Published: 02/20/18
Grocery retailer Albertsons to buy drugstore chain Rite Aid

Grocery retailer Albertsons to buy drugstore chain Rite Aid

Associated PressThe privately held owner of Safeway, Vons and other grocery brands is plunging deeper into the pharmacy business with a deal to buy Rite Aid, the nation’s third-largest drugstore chain. Albertsons Companies is offering either a share ...
Published: 02/20/18
Following deaths from Irma, Florida looks to new rules for keeping nursing homes cool after outages

Following deaths from Irma, Florida looks to new rules for keeping nursing homes cool after outages

After national headlines and a public outcry over the deaths of 14 people at a Broward County nursing home after Hurricane Irma, nursing homes across the state are working to comply with new rules requiring them to have back-up power.But the process ...
Published: 02/20/18