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Community builds an animal hospital for all

Pat Johnson   Jan-17-2019

Dr. Assaf Goldberg shows off RAPS Animal Hospital's new hyperbaric unit and perky Mia gets comfortable inside it.

Photo submitted


The RAPS Animal Hospital has some new, state-of-the-art medical equipment. But the equipment itself is only part of the story.

“This is really a story about the strength of a community-owned and operated veterinary facility,” says Dr. Assaf Goldberg, one of the veterinarians at the hospital. “We’ve always said, this place belongs to everyone.”

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The RAPS Animal Hospital opened almost a year ago—on Family Day in 2018—as a non-profit veterinary facility wholly owned by the Regional Animal Protection Society.

“And RAPS … that’s us. That’s you. That’s everyone,” says Dr. Goldberg. The Regional Animal Protection Society is 24 years old this year—and the hospital is meeting the health needs of animals at the RAPS Cat Sanctuary, the RAPS-run City of Richmond Animal Shelter and the sizeable RAPS fostering network.

By offering services to the public, the hospital’s revenue is reinvested into saving and improving the lives of even more animals.

“But the fact that this is a community hospital means so much,” Dr. Guy Arad, another RAPS veterinarians, says.

The non-profit mission is having impacts that were not foreseen when the hospital was first envisioned.

In the past few weeks, a generous supporter donated a top-of-the-line ultrasound machine for the hospital and another group of supporters bought a hyperbaric oxygen therapy unit—making RAPS Animal Hospital the only veterinary facility in Canada offering this advanced therapeutic treatment.

Thanks to the donated General Electric Logiq E R7 Ultrasound machine, says Dr. Arad, “the hospital will now be able to instantly perform full-body imaging. This lets our medical staff quickly assess issues and recommend therapies or treatments.”

The hyperbaric unit is especially exciting, he adds. Hyperbaric therapy has been used for decades in human medicine—and is available in 50 or so vet hospitals in the United States—but RAPS Animal Hospital is the only veterinary facility in Canada offering this advanced treatment.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) involves high concentrations of oxygen by placing the patient in an environment with increasing air pressure.

HBOT has been shown to enhance and speed the healing process and can, in some instances, replace invasive surgical procedures.

“The fact that these technologies and tools were contributed by members of the community is an indication of the buy-in that not-for-profit, community-owned veterinary care is getting from Richmond and throughout Metro Vancouver,” says Eyal Lichtmann, CEO and executive director of RAPS. “The entire RAPS Animal Hospital project was only possible because Vancity credit union saw the value in it and financed the entire project on great terms and Applewood Nissan contributed the space for free—6,000-square-feet for six years at a value of about $500,000.”

The organization is getting contributions from medical suppliers and veterinarians, “from our hospitals and others,” says Lichtmann, “(they) are donating their time for special clinics where we do a bunch of spay and neuter procedures for homeless animals.”

Almost a year in, Lichtmann says, the hospital is realizing its vision.

“And that’s all thanks to members of the community,” he says, “including those who are choosing the RAPS Animal Hospital for their companion animals’ health care.”

Pat Johnson is the communications manager of the Regional Animal Protection Society.


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