Once I had crossed the Channel, the road took me through Northern France, past Verdun and Metz down to the Northern Vosges mountain range and then across the Rhine valley to Freiburg and the Black Forest.
Over the next few weeks I will rely on the hospitality of my friends (old and new) to both explore the state of veterinary care in Germany and while doing this, I hope to have some fun along the way with non-veterinary things……you will see…..
My first stop was the picturesque Glottertal Valley where my friends from Hanover Vet School, Dörte and Jörg Bretzinger are running a truly “mixed” practice as a husband and wife team. Dörte is heading a small, but very neat small animal practice providing excellent first opinion care. Jörg and a colleague are predominantly doing farm animal work and over the last few years more and more equine work. As if they wouldn’t be busy enough, Jörg is also getting up twice weekly at 4 am to do meat control work at the regional slaughter house and they both do all the meat inspections, which includes a lot of game, for the butchers in the whole valley. With other words – they are really working hard….
And yet in the Bretzinger household there is still time for good literature, fine art (Jörg is a painter with regular exhibitions) and exceptionally good food and wine, which admittedly is unavoidable in these boarder lands between Germany, France and Switzerland. I couldn’t have asked for a better “home” away from home than here….
Despite the excellent skills and equipment of Dörte’s and of other clinics I visit, I notice that not the standard but the cost of veterinary care is noticeably lower than in the UK, which appears to be partially due to more competition and due to the virtual absence of pet insurance.
During my stay in Freiburg I am also visiting the futuristic clinic of Matthias Frank, who has just returned from a lecturing tour in Mumbai as part of a WSAVA continuing education programme. After being greeted by a set of very entertaining steel sculptures in front of the building,
I am running straight into a newly installed dispensary robot in the reception area.
All medication in the unit is climate and stock controlled and a centrally located robotic arm is collecting and dispensing the right amount of medication to the reception team.
Following a very inspiring tour of the clinic, Matthias tells me to gown and to scrub up and minutes later I am joining the team with the surgical case load for the rest of the afternoon.
All diagnostic images (ultrasound, radiography, MRT and CT images) are fed directly into the practice management system and in the spotless consulting and treatment rooms there is hardly a piece of paper in sight.
Despite the fact that this is a clinic with more than 20 vets and all together over 70 members of staff, clients are updated on their pets’ progress on a very regular and personal basis and one can’t help to be impressed by this standard of care.
The journey continues, but this truly was a demonstration of “Vorsprung durch Technik”……..