Charleston Veterinary Referral Center

By Helen Ravenel Hammond

When an emergency happens concerning your beloved pet, every minute counts. And sometimes there are needs that go well beyond what your veterinarian can do. That’s why there is Charleston Veterinary Referral Center (CVRC), the most advanced specialty and emergency
 small animal hospital in the Southeast. Patients are primarily injured and ill dogs and cats that are in dire circumstances.

“Our role is to serve as an extension of your family veterinarian’s practice in the event of complex medical or surgical issues, and to be a valuable resource for any type of pet emergency, any time, day or night,”
 explained Dr. David Sachs, co-owner and medical director. “Everything we deal with is significant. We are the people you never want to see, but you are happy to have us in case of an emergency.”

Opened in 2011 by Dr. David Sachs and Dr. Alan Green, Charleston Veterinary Referral Center is nearly 18,000 square feet with 85 full-time staff members and 19 full-time doctors.

Specialties include emergency medicine, critical care, internal medicine, cardiology, neurology, oncology, surgery, physical rehabilitation, and sports medicine. “Since we rely on a referral basis,” said Dr. Sachs, “we want to be ‘the best in the business’—ensuring exceptional client experience. Essentially the referring vets are our clients.”

“In an emergency situation, we have about two minutes to introduce ourselves and get the patients to trust us. There are processes and protocols we go through,” Dr. Sachs explained.

Consider Lucy, an 8-year-old Labrador. Taken to Dr. Linnea Bredenberg at Riverbank Veterinary Clinic because of constant vomiting and diarrhea, Lucy’s heart rate was less than 40 bpm. With a conclusion that the severe bradycardia was most likely causing Lucy’s clinical signs, Dr. Bredenberg recognized the need for rapid intervention. Lucy was referred directly to Charleston Veterinary Referral Center, where she would receive 24-hour monitoring and an evaluation with CVRC’s cardiology department. After extensive diagnostics and lab work, as well as direction and discussion with Dr. Sophy Jesty, DVM, DACVIM (Cardiology), a pacemaker was put in.

“The staff was very attentive to her needs, and the hospital called us with updates multiple times per day,” recalled David Jacobstein, Lucy’s owner.

“When we took her home, we were given a mission to rest her, and we took that so seriously,” Holly Jacobstein added. “We called in three times the first day and every time, they got right on the phone and answered our questions.”

According to Dr. Sachs, “This is the example of a positive outcome to a life-threatening situation with that low of a heart-rate. They said, ‘We got our puppy back.'”

Roughly 10-12 doctors participate in university style rounds, including everyone from the cardiologists to the oncologists. “Everyone weighs in on what care we can offer to every single pet that comes through our doors. We want it to be a seamless process for the clients. We have referred to ourselves as the veterinary ‘Mayo Clinic,’” he said.

“We strive to be a ‘thought leader’ in the area for all things veterinary—providing education for vets and pet owners,” he continued. “Community outreach is equally important, and CVRC sponsors James Island County Park, Dogtoberfest, Bark for Life, Keep Charleston Beautiful, Running with the Hounds, to name a few.” “This job is so rewarding on so many levels.”