Gleaming new medical equipment abounds at the Auburn University Educational Complex in Gulf Shores with state-of-the-art imaging, recovery rooms, multiple operating suites, even a nurse’s station. The veterinary referral center opened in the fall and has treated more than 60 animals since February.
Also at the building is a plant diagnostic lab that will soon be accepting samples from not just Baldwin County, but from all over South Alabama to help residents and farmers with plant pest and disease issues.
On the veterinarian side, it currently focuses on surgery because the resident vet, Dr. Todd Thomas, has a specialty in that area. He said the imaging equipment — including a full-body MRI — really stands out.“There are several things that we would have that most of the general practices in the area would not have,” Thomas said. “Advanced imaging with the CT and MRI are two of the biggest ones as far as our diagnostic capabilities. Our imaging capabilities are something that’s definitely helped us out in terms of the services that we can provide and the tools that we have to diagnose patients before we get them ready for surgery.”
But the only patients he can see at the new clinic come from referrals from local veterinarians.
“Everything that comes here to see us has to be seen by their primary care veterinarian and then referred here to us,” Thomas said. “We get calls from folks that want to schedule an appointment. We have to explain, no, you have to be referred by your regular veterinarian.”
Like the plant lab’s reach, patients can come from a wide area, not just Baldwin County. Services there for animals are basically open to anyone in Alabama who has a referral and wants the clinic to work on their pet.
“There’s not really an area that we specifically serve,” Thomas said. “Any veterinarian in this area can send patients to us if the need is what we provide. They can go up to Auburn to the main campus as well.”
He said pet owners from as far away as Tuscaloosa have opted to have their animals’ surgery done in Gulf Shores. Right now surgery, Thomas’s specialty, is the main service the clinic can offer.
“I’m a surgeon by training so those are the patients we are going to see,” he said. “Our goal is to add additional services so we are currently advertising and seeking internal medicine and critical care. Hopefully, it will continue to grow based on the needs of the local area.”
Helping him at the clinic are students in veterinary school at Auburn. He expects the number of students there will grow as the center expands and adds new veterinarians in different fields.
“The senior veterinarian students at Auburn’s College of Veterinary Medicine have the option to rotate down here,” Thomas said. “It’s an elective rotation, so the students that we get have requested to come here. They spend two-week rotations down here with us. It’s really too early to tell what the longterm for that will look like. There are a variety of possibilities.”
This page is available to subscribers. Click here to sign in or get access.
It looks like you are opening this page from the Facebook App. This article needs to be opened in the browser.
iOS: Tap the three dots in the top right, then tap on "Open in Safari".
Android: Tap the Settings icon (it looks like three horizontal lines), then tap App Settings, then toggle the "Open links externally" setting to On (it should turn from gray to blue).