Littlestown Veterinary Hospital is owned by Doctors Julie Holland and Gary Kubala. It is based in a hundred-year-old renovated barn just outside Littlestown, Pennsylvania. Holland and Kubala bought the barn in May of 2008, fixed it up, and have called it home for the last twelve years. They now have so many regulars that they stopped taking new clients in 2018. The barn is the place of employment for five doctors, eighteen vet technicians, and five front desk workers.
Like many veterinary hospitals in the United States, they have been faced with increased patronage due to the vast amount of time Americans have been spending at home with their pets, noticing every small change in them. However, unlike many animal hospitals in Pennsylvania, Littlestown has not abandoned their Coronavirus precautions. On July 3, Pennsylvania entered the green phase in all counties, meaning businesses and citizens were given the okay to reopen and go back to life as usual.
Littlestown Veterinary Hospital on October 13, 2020. When doctors Holland and Kubala began the renovation process, their goal was to "keep the old beams exposed and maintain the antique flavor of the building while ensuring efficient flow of patient and client traffic." In 2015, Littlestown was awarded the Barn Restoration Award by the Historic Gettysburg- Adams County Preservation Society.
Dr. Julie Holland prepares to scrub in for surgery on October 13, 2020. She had planned to spend the day doing administrative work, but had to jump in due to the influx in surgeries. Holland will instead have to make schedules, get paychecks ready, and fill out charts after the hospital closes, a common practice for many veterinarians.
Littlestown Hospital has been practicing curb side pick up and drop off for animals to avoid having people in the building. The owners made the decision to continue to Covid precautions to protect their staff. Several employees have respiratory and autoimmune diseases, putting them at high risk of serious illness upon contraction.
Upon arriving at the hospital, clients call the front desk to let them know they have arrived. Soon after, a vet tech emerges from the building to gather the medical history of the pet, and take it inside for the appointment. The only exceptions that are made are for euthanasias, where the owners can choose to be present for their pet's death.
A pug waits to be brought into the hospital by a vet tech on October 13, 2020.
Christiana Bredbenner answers calls from her makeshift office in the food storage room on October 13, 2020. The curbside pickup exponentially increased the amount of phone calls, causing the hospital to install more phones and have more people behind the front desk.
Kelly Myers gathers patient history from the pet's owner in the parking lot on October 13, 2020. Pet owners are often very hesitant to hand off their pets, and would prefer to be inside with them to ease their nervousness. However, they comply with Littlestown's restrictions and choose to stay at this hospital out of loyalty.
A chalk paw-print drawn on the parking lot to comfort clients while they anxiously wait for the vet techs to return their pets to their cars.
Vet techs Kasia Wastler, Emily Weaver, and Becca Blevins restrain a German Shepard while shaving its' fur before surgery on October 13, 2020. This job usually would only require two vet techs, but a third had to be brought in due to the dog's anxiety levels. Without their owners, pets face increased anxiety surrounding visits to animal hospitals.
Julie Holland, Megan Smith, and Ross Holland gather behind the front desk to formulate a plan to see all of their patients on an over-booked day.
Dr. Julie Holland performs testicular surgery on a German Shepard using a laser rather than traditionally used scalpels. "Using the laser makes it less painful for them," she explains. "The incisions are cleaner and heal quicker due to the burning." She goes on to recount a story involving vet techs fainting due to the smell when the tool was first introduced at the hospital.
Shortly before the pandemic, Dr. Julie Holland began renovations on the basement of the barn to create a more quiet space for cat exams and euthanasias away from the "loud volumes and the chaos" of the main hospital. After putting money and months of construction into the project, it is now complete but has remained unused due to their Coronavirus restrictions.