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Healthcare – June 15, 2020

A Clear Vision for Hawaii’s Pets

A Clear Vision …

Is what Dr. Maya Yamagata had when she opened Hawaii Veterinary Vision Care in 1997.  Dr. Yamagata became a board certified veterinary ophthalmology specialist in veterinary medicine in order to help animals maintain their clear vision and eye health.

Over the years, Dr. Yamagata has helped dogs, cats, rabbits, birds, guinea pigs, zoo animals, marine animals, horses and more with issues such as corneal abnormalities; dry eye conditions; neurologic diseases of the eye; auto-immune diseases of the eye; eyelid abnormalities; glaucoma; intraocular diseases; lens abnormalities; and retinal disease.

Take a quick look at on-line reviews of Hawaii Veterinary Vision Care and the words you will see used most often are “experience,” “patience,” and “kindness.”  Every pet owner knows how important these qualities are when our furry family members are in pain.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had serious repercussions for Dr. Yamagata’s practice but she knew that she and her husband, Edwin, had to find a way to stay open in order to care for Hawaii’s pet-loving families, though for the time being, they have had to suspend travel to care for neighbor island patients.

At their Honolulu office, located at 1021 Akala Lane, every precaution has been taken to ensure the safety of their patients and families.  All staff members wear PPE and pet owners wear masks. To limit close interaction and respect social distancing, pet owners remain in their vehicles and a staff member retrieves the pet, brings the pet in to perform the eye exam, and then calls the owner on the phone to discuss the exam findings and treatment recommendations.

Phone discussions with pet owners take longer than having the owner in the exam room, where Dr. Yamagata can easily explain things and answer questions during the exam. She also spends more time writing up detailed take-home summaries and instruction forms for pet owners, especially for complicated cases that require extra care.

Appointments are also spaced out to allow for the extra time necessary to coordinate each pet’s visit, so the staff sees half the number of patients each day.  All elective surgeries and many recheck appointments for patients have been postponed.

One thing that has remained the same is Dr. Yamagata and her team’s high level of personal care for each patient. As Dr. Yamagata’s caseload gradually increased year by year, and as she grew from having one technician to three on staff, she made a conscious decision to limit the size of her practice “to be able to give my patients and their families the best individual care and time that I can.” Also, Dr. Yamagata continues to provide after-hours emergency care for her patients.

Because of the changes brought about by COVID-19, Hawaii Veterinary Vision Care applied for a PPP loan with First Hawaiian Bank, with whom they have been banking since they opened the practice. “Our income has been significantly reduced,” Dr. Yamagata said. “Our personal business banker, Christina Rudolph, was key in helping us secure the loan.  She was efficient and so very helpful.” The loan has allowed the practice to retain all its employees on payroll and continue offering its specialized services. Dr. Yamagata said, “It is very important to balance your life: take care of your family, health, work, and help others outside of work and family. We have a hopeful outlook for the future and trust that God will see us through this season.”

As some COVID-19 restrictions lift, Hawaii Veterinary Vision Care is scheduling more appointments. They are catching up on appointments and procedures previously postponed by the pandemic, such as cataract surgeries. While the business pace has slowed a bit in order to make accommodations for COVID-19 pandemic precautions, they are grateful for the opportunity to continue serving the community and providing the best possible eye care services for animals.

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