Like many programs and services on the installation, the Fort Gordon Veterinary Clinic has undergone changes – not only as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but also for transformation sake.
Driving along North Range Road, construction surrounding the area might make it appear to some that the clinic is closed, but it is open and filled with staff ready to help.
“We hear from a lot of people they don’t even realize the clinic exists, and then with COVID, some people think it’s been closed or see construction from side of road and assume that we’re not open,” said Jennifer Glenn, operations assistant, Fort Gordon Veterinary Services.
The clinic moved from its former site (nearby) last summer into its current location. Glenn said the tentative plan is to move into a larger, refurbished location – within the same footprint – by June. Currently, the clinic is open for full-scope appointments to include vaccinations, taking care of travel health certificates, establishing client-patient relationships, and sick calls.
“In order to get prescriptions from a doctor, just like on the human side, you have to have an established relationship with the doctor who is prescribing the medication or preventions, and that has to be at least once a year,” Glenn explained.
The clinic is also able to conduct behavioral assessments in cats, dogs, and horses along with provide sports medicine.
The clinic currently does not offer is hospitalization nor certain specialty capabilities, but it can perform diagnostics and make referrals out to specialty clinics.
Due to current circumstances, the clinic is only accepting appointments with full curbside service, meaning pet owners are not permitted to accompany their pet inside the clinic. Instead, they must sign in on a clipboard located outside of the clinic’s entrance, then knock on the door, and someone from the clinic will come outside to check the owner’s ID card and verify appointment information. Once the clinic is ready for the animal to be seen, the owner will turn the animal over to staff and then be asked to wait in their vehicle while the pet receives treatment.
“We have to be in compliance with General Order No. 1, and we have typically have a veterinarian and one to two technicians in a room with your pet, so unfortunately with the size of our rooms and our waiting room, it makes it hard to have an owner in there as well and still be in compliance,” Glenn explained.
And while the clinic isn’t open for walk-ins at this time, Glenn said they will not exactly turn a pet owner away, especially if they arrive with an emergency situation.
“If you come to the door with an issue, and if we have the staff or the opening, we’ll take you in; if we don’t, then we have a listing of all of the off-post facilities, and we’ll help facilitate you being seen somewhere else.” Glenn said. “If it’s an emergency situation, we will stop what we’re doing, stabilize the pet, and then help facilitate a transfer to a full hospital.”
Looking ahead, Glenn said the clinic plans offering various classes for pets and their owners once staff is in their new location and COVID restrictions are lifted.
The clinic is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., by appointment only. It is closed on federal holidays and on the last duty day of the month (for inventory). Only active-duty service members, their families, and retirees are eligible to use the clinic.
To reach a staff member, call 706-461-0907 or 706-831-4631. You can also send an email to FortGordonVTF@gmail.com.
The clinic’s landline phones and Internet are inoperable due to a construction-related incident that took place back in September, which Glenn acknowledged has made it challenging for some people to reach the clinic.
“We’re doing the best we can,” Glenn said. “If they can’t get a hold of us on the phone, email is probably the best option, because then any staff member in the building will be able to see it come up and respond.”
The Fort Gordon Veterinary Clinic Facebook page is also a good source of information and means to communicate.
The safety and wellbeing of animals aren't the only thing Fort Gordon Veterinary Services is responsible for ensuring. The clinic has a food security mission that reaches every person who eats or shops for food on the installation. From random food inspections at dining facilities to daily inspections of food trucks at the commissary, Veterinary Services plays a key role in the community's safety.
"It's easy to go to the commissary and just pull something off the shelf, but it could be that day where we found something prior to you coming in that day that could get somebody gravely sick or put in danger in some sort of way," explained Spc. Kenneth Rutledge, veterinary food inspector.