Christopher Burnett | Staff Writer
The Fort Leavenworth Veterinary Treatment Facility at 831 McClellan Ave. achieved accreditation by the American Animal Hospital Association March 16.
“By undergoing the process, we are confident that we are providing the best medical and surgical care possible to our patients,” said Dr. Darrin Olson, one of the two staff veterinarians and also the VTF officer in charge. “To become AAHA-accredited is a rigorous evaluation process that covers many practice areas. Accreditation also gives our clients the security and peace of mind in knowing that their pets are receiving the best possible care when being treated at the Fort Leavenworth VTF.”
A member of the Fort Leavenworth community for six months, Olson said the VTF staff decided to get accredited to serve patients and clients better. The VTF received approval to move forward with the accreditation process one year ago.
Olson said there are mandatory standards the VTF met to become accredited. He said hospitals that treat human beings are required to be accredited; veterinary hospitals are not. Achieving accreditation requires an understanding of the preparatory process and hands-on collaborative involvement by every member of the organization.
“The staff started preparing (last year) and the clinic inspection was March 16. We have two veterinarians, Dr. Gerald Theis and myself,” Olson said. “We have two (military occupational specialty) 68T soldiers, Staff Sgt. Alexis McCurdy, who serves as our noncommissioned officer in charge, and Pvt. 2 Taylor Handshy, our animal care specialist. Jessica Lehman is our animal health assistant, and Lynelle Killinger is our animal caretaker.”
Olson said Capt. Danielle Tulloss, who is also a veterinarian and the branch officer in charge, was part of the accreditation process from the beginning. Tulloss oversees the operation of facilities in Nebraska and Missouri, in addition to the VTF on post.
“This has been a progressive goal over several years for this VTF,” Tulloss said. “When the facility was renovated (in 2014-2015), the next logical step was to achieve AAHA accreditation.”
Olson said the daily administrative work done by the VTF Receptionist Jackie Johnson and Operations Assistant Alyson Jones is important toward the clinic running efficiently.
“Jackie is the first person our clients meet, whether by telephone making an appointment or in person as they walk in the door of the facility,” Olson said. “Alyson inherently tracks the areas that were part of our accreditation requirements as a matter of performing her daily work tasks.”
Olson said there are only two types of accreditation — general accreditation and referral accreditation. He said referral accreditation is simply for specialty veterinary hospitals. Because the post clinic is not a specialty veterinary hospital, he said it is only eligible for a general accreditation.
Page 2 of 2 - Olson also concurrently serves as a veterinary preventive medical officer in the Army Reserve and has completed 21 years of service. He enlisted in the Kansas Army National Guard at age 17 as a combat engineer, and graduated Neosho County Community College with his associate degree.
He attended Pittsburg State University and graduated in 2000 with a bachelor of science degree, then transferred from the Army National Guard to the Army Reserve in 2001.
While completing his doctorate of veterinary medicine degree at Kansas State University, Olson deployed with his Reserve unit to Iraq in 2004. He received a direct commission as a veterinary medical officer in 2005 after 10 years of enlisted service.
Before assuming leadership of the VTF at Fort Leavenworth, Olson worked in a mixed animal practice in southeast Kansas and held a government position at Barksdale Air Force Base, La.,Veterinary Treatment Facility.
“I was able to assist with getting that (Barksdale Air Force Base) VTF AAHA accredited in 2012,” Olson said.
He said accepting the position at Fort Leavenworth also moved him and his family closer to relatives.
“Our family could not be happier to be here, for personal and professional reasons,” Olson said. “The VTF mission is broad and falls in line with the Public Health Activity Mission (at Munson Army Health Center). Our top (mission) priority is to provide medical care and treatment for the military working dogs assigned to (Fort) Leavenworth.”
Olson said the facility also performs public health related activities such as food inspection, animal bite case management, and quarantine exams for the horse stables on the post and medical care for the animals in the Fort Leavenworth Stray Facility. This includes medical care for the foxhounds on the post, along with running a small animal veterinary treatment facility. Emergency care is not provided.
“Our vision is to be respected locally by our peers for the quality of medical and surgical care provided to our patients, as well as to serve as a model for other military veterinary clinics within our district command in the areas of customer service, medical care and operational practices,” he said.
Lynne Pippin, a regular client, said her family has used the VTF for 10 years. She said the level of service remains superior, both before and after the VTF achieved accreditation.
“I find the service friendly, thoughtful and thorough each time I visit the facility,” Pippin said. “Achieving the certification is well deserved.”
The VTF offers spaying, neutering and soft tissue surgeries; vaccinations; microchip implantation; health certificates; dental cleanings and extractions; as well as sick call appointments. The VTF is open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. It is closed on weekends and on federal and training holidays. Call 684-6510 or visit the VTF online at https://phc.amedd.army.mil /organization/Pages/VtfDetails.aspx?VtfID=66&loc=KS.