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I am struggling to put into words the experiences of the past weeks. It started on June 3 and ended this past Thursday, June 23. Up until Monday, June 20 my precious Corky (3 ½ year old Shitzu Peekingese mix) was under the care of Dr. Zylstra and the staff at Kentwood Veterinary Clinic. On that Monday, after being informed that he most likely required surgery and that Dr. Zylstra could not do it until Friday, June 24 and that it would be rather costly we sought a second opinion and had the surgery done at a much more reasonable cost on Wednesday, June 22. He made it through the surgery, but was too weak and fatigued from the previous 2 weeks to survive. I will not go into all of the details here, but we have concerns as to whether Corky received the treatment he should have while under Dr. Zylstra?s care.
I will say that Corky was always welcomed and treated with love by the staff but that doesn?t mean that everything was done to insure his health. I had a very positive conversation with Karen on Thursday, June23 after he had passed away. She listened politely to my concerns and expressed her sympathy several times. She said she would pass my concerns on to Dr. Zylstra and I indicated that he was welcome to call me. I had another very professional interaction with Karen this morning, June 25, when I stopped in to request Corky?s medical records. I did mention that it was in preparation for possible (please note the use of the term possible, not guaranteed) litigation. As I was leaving I indicated that at some point Dr. Zylstra and I would need to have a conversation. I was hoping to resolve the situation between him and me privately.
I received that phone call from Dr. Zylstra this morning at about 10:00. The individual on the phone was not at all professional and/or the person that many of you have been raving about in your positive reviews. What I had hoped could be a productive conversation between a health care professional and a grieving pet owner was anything but that. He was, in my opinion, loud, accusatory, unwilling to listen and/or calm down, deflected all responsibility for the situation back on me in a very aggressive manner and eventually ended up hanging up on me. Much of what was said was hurtful and said in a manner that made me feel bullied. I only wish I had a recording of the phone call. The following are the main points from that conversation:
1. It started out with him accusing me of harassing his staff. If two very polite and professional exchanges with Karen (she can correct me if I am wrong) constitute harassment I am shocked by his accusation. I even made it a point to ask to speak to her in private when I shared my concerns on Thursday so as not to involve other clients and I made sure that there were no other clients in the waiting area while we spoke about my request for records today. At no point did I raise my voice, become loud or agitated or make threats of any kind. In spite of my courteous and considerate behavior Dr. Zylstra informed me that if I were to step foot on the property again the police would be called.
2. As a previous reviewer suggested, circumstances, questions and statements made by Dr. Zylstra and the staff at least raise the concern that quality of care could be about money. You will have to decide that for yourself. The first question I was asked by the vet tech when I brought Corky in on June 3 was ?Is money an issue?? I indicated it could be, which was an error on my part. At the visit on Monday, June 20 when the cost of the surgery was shared, verbally only no written estimate, it was followed with us being told that if we didn't have the money for the surgery it would be best to put him down. Fortunately, we found a vet who was willing to work with us and do what we felt was their best for Corky (They even forgave a significant portion of the surgery bill after he did not make it. To us it demonstrated a concern more for our grief and less about the money.) Dr. Zylstra made it clear to me that he did not agree with our choice of vet by making the statement that if we had taken Corky to the surgeon he was recommending, (at a cost of 3 times what we paid to have the actual surgery done), Corky would still be alive. In addition he commented "you get what you pay for", perhaps insinuating that because the vet we chose was charging less that they were also less competent. I would consider such comments a lapse in professionalism being critical of a colleague. As the pretty much one sided conversation continued, Dr. Zylstra continued to berate and accuse (how it felt to me). He stated that Corky had gotten the care we could afford. He made it sound like the care he needed and what we could afford were not the same. Perhaps Dr. Zylstra should have declined to treat Corky if money were such an issue. He continued by talking about us never having money to treat our pets and referenced having had to extend us credit for Corky. He was mistaken and didn?t even know what he was talking about as we had paid in full for each of Corky?s visits from June 3 to June 20 (over $800) but was evidently holding it against us that we had experienced financial issues in the past.
3. He then started talking about our having too many pets and not taking proper care of them. He indicated that he could/should call the city and inform them of the situation. What he failed to consider is that several of those pets belong to my children and do not live in the same house with us any longer nor am I responsible for their care. This is another case of his being mistaken and not knowing what he is talking about. My question also would be, if it hasn?t been an issue of conscience for him for several years, why all of a sudden raise the possibility of doing so now. It makes it look like it might be retaliation in response to my questioning Corky?s treatment. Dr. Zylstra took my mention of litigation (not a promise, not a guarantee, not a certainty, but a possibility are the words I used) as a threat and made it very clear that he did not appreciate it. On the other hand in spite of his indignation, he saw fit to turn around and issue what could be construed as a threat of his own in retaliation.
4. The conversation was anything but professional. He would not listen, he would not calm down, he accused me of taking my anger regarding Corky?s death out on him, and he cut me off and would not listen. I repeated over and over Sir, could we please calm down, could we please just talk about the situation. I tried very hard not to argue with or be threatening but it was very difficult and the conversation did not end well. He hung up on me in what appeared to be anger.
Please be aware that this could be (not saying it will be) your experience if you don?t have the money to say ?do whatever is necessary?, Dr. Zylstra's words, or if you dare to question the treatment that your loved one received.
Fortunately I have no need to set foot on the property of Kentwood Veterinary Clinic ever again as we have found a new vet who we are much more comfortable with. I had hoped to resolve the issue with Dr. Zylstra in a private, professional and constructive manner but unfortunately that is not how things have transpired.
I have tried very hard to choose my words wisely and to not make unfounded accusations. I am sure this review will not be received kindly and I honestly expect a response similar to what a previous reviewer experienced (accusation of libel and slander). If Dr. Zylstra did not want what he had to say made public, perhaps he should have chosen his words a bit more carefully, been a bit more understanding and considerably more professional in dealing with the situation.
If Dr. Zylstra and I are able to have a more constructive and professional exchange regarding the situation I will be more than happy to adjust my review accordingly.