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Friday, September 20, 2019

Veterinary Medical Center opens location in Fort Thomas

By Jessie Eden

A new business has set up shop in Fort Thomas. The Veterinary Medical Center in Independence, has recently opened a second location in Fort Thomas aptly named The Veterinary Medical Center of Fort Thomas.

The new veterinary office, which opened on July 21 at 2000 Memorial Parkway, features two full time veterinarians — Owner Dr. Kristi Baker and Associate Veterinarian Dr. Kelly Gersch. The center offers a variety of services for your beloved pets including a fear free approach, home-like examination rooms and high tech visits.

Core staff includes (Left to Right); Christina Boston (Client Services), Dr. Gersch (Associate Veterinarian), Dr. Baker (Owner/Veterinarian), Sheena Harrell (Practice Manager) and Misty Bryant (Staff Training - Non Technical)
Now, you may be asking — what is “Fear Free”?

“The Fear Free mission is to prevent and alleviate anxiety, fear and stress in pets by inspiring and educating the people who care for them,” said Dr. Baker. “We were “Fear Free” before it was cool! Years prior to this formal initiative we were instituting the methodology that is discussed. We believe in this movement and its core values.”

In addition to a Fear Free approach, the center’s examination rooms feature upholstered furniture and feline enrichment areas to make your pet feel more at ease.

The Veterinary Medical Center also has a high tech office approach.

“Be prepared for a paperlight experience,” said Dr. Baker. “You will be asked to register yourself on a tablet, your assistant will record notes in a laptop, you will have the option to receive your receipt via Email and with permission, we can maintain your credit card or checking account information for future use.”

Fort Thomas Living recently had a chance to learn more about the Veterinary Medical Center’s owner, KY native and Campbell County High School graduate Dr. Baker, who says that she never thought she’d own her own business.

“My parents were both small business owners. I was keenly aware of the hard work without immediate gratification and the all-encompassing nature of business ownership. Adamantly, I stated I would never be a business owner…. EVER,” said Dr. Baker. “Eventually, I recognized that business ownership also allowed you to develop your own paradigms, to appreciate the successes and failures of the decisions that you make, and to pursue your passion projects. Now, I own two businesses and often discuss other businesses that would integrate with the ones that I have.”

In our Q & A below, you can learn more about Dr. Baker’s background and why she ultimately chose Fort Thomas as not only her home...but also a place to grow her Veterinary business.

FTL: Can you tell us more about your veterinary background?

Dr. Baker: I grew up near California, Kentucky on a small hobby farm. My parents are both from working farms in Eastern Kentucky. It isn’t a lifestyle that they wanted to rely on but it was a lifestyle that they enjoyed. The heritage that they shared with my sister and me is one of strong family unity and support. Spending my developmental years in this environment re-enforced resilience and strong problem solving abilities. Also, I was able to develop strong bonds and experience difficult decision making with the farm pets.

Following high school at Campbell County, I attended and graduated from Northern Kentucky University with a BS in biology and an area of concentration in elementary special education.  Though I had considered a career in veterinary medicine it is not the path that I chose initially. I worked as a clinical research associate for Kendle (now Inc). I enjoyed the independent work structure, the corporate office and the freedom - but I also felt like I was settling for a job that fell into my lap. Ultimately, I decided to return to school to become a Veterinarian

In 2002 I started my first semester at Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine on the island of St. Kitts in the British West Indies. I had travelled extensively but making St. Kitts my home for three years was an unforgettable experience. After finishing my academic studies at Ross, I had the great pleasure of completing my clinical studies at Purdue School of Veterinary Medicine.

Immediately following veterinary school I accepted a job Blanchard Valley Veterinary Clinic in Findlay, Ohio. The owner of that practice, Dr. Steiner, helped me develop into the type of practitioner that I wanted to be rather than shaping me into the practitioner that she wanted me to be. After two years in Findlay, I returned to the Cincinnati area to work as an ER doctor at 24-hour specialty/emergency clinic.

FTL: What types of things did you learn from working in a 24-hour emergency clinic?

Dr. Baker: Working at the emergency clinic gave me regular exposure to very ill and critically injured patients that developed both my clinical and client relationship skills in ways that would not have been possible in general practice. While I loved those challenges and the fast pace of emergency medicine, I missed developing long-term relationships with clients and their pets.

FTL: What was your next step after spending time as an emergency vet?

Dr. Baker: In 2008, I purchased Veterinary Medical Center of Independence and went into business as a solo practitioner. Running my own business has taught me a whole new set of skills and allowed me the time and flexibility to start my family. Since purchasing my first practice, my life has changed a lot. I got married in 2009, and we had our first son in 2010, to be followed by a little brother in 2015.

FTL: What led to you focusing not only your family life but also your business in Fort Thomas?

Dr. Baker: By 2018 our house on Rossford Avenue was getting a little too small, and we relocated to North Fort Thomas Avenue. Around that same time the Independence clinic had grown to the point that we were ready for another doctor, and Dr. Sutkamp’s medical office building on Memorial Parkway was for sale, just a few blocks away from our new house. I was able to purchase the building that is now Veterinary Medical Center of Fort Thomas and to hire a second doctor. Opening a second clinic from scratch has been a wonderful experience, and I have loved my time living and now working in Fort Thomas.

First, I chose to live in Fort Thomas. Then, I chose to raise my family in Fort Thomas. Now, I am choosing to grow my business in Fort Thomas. I love my career and I am passionate about improving the quality of life and the relationships that we have with our fur babies. I love owning and managing a business - having the opportunity to mentor the future. And...I love Fort Thomas!

Dr. Baker’s children; Simon, 8, and Sullivan, 3.

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