Lee Pitts: VIP Vets

I think my veterinarian and I are the last two men in America who get their hair cut at a barber shop instead of a ‘salon’. That’s where I ran into him. “Did I tell you I had to get a new doctor?” I asked my vet.

“Yeah, you mentioned it. How’s the new physician working out?”

“Well, I wouldn’t exactly call him new,” I said. “He’s got to be 80 if he’s a day.”

“You must be talking about old Doc Mallard.”

“You know of him then? What do you think him as a doctor?”

“I’ve heard of him all right. For heaven’s sake, Doc Mallard was my mother’s doctor! Mallard’s now part of the Quack Medical Group and that should be your first clue. And personally, I make it a point to avoid any doctor who can’t even keep the plants in his office alive.”

“I know he’s a little old but I like Dr. Mallard. On our first visit he asked me to show him where I felt pain so I touched my foot and said it hurt. Then I touched my head and I said it hurt too. Finally, I jabbed myself in the stomach and doubled over in pain. I thought I had cancer-of-the-everything but be accurately diagnosed me as having a broken finger! After only one visit he cured me of diseases I didn’t even know I had, like the heebie jeebies, the creeps, cooties and the willies. We’re now working on my vapors, breakbone fever, nettlerash, scrofula, quinsy, glanders, carbuncles, boils, dyspepsia, piles, scurvy, consumption, farcy, and hectic fever.”

“You do know those diseases are already wiped out?” asked my vet.

“I know. See how good he is! With the younger docs everything’s a ‘syndrome’ and all they really know how to do is play golf. With Doc Mallard I’m off all the meds I was on before and instead he switched me over to Lydia E. Pinkhams Vegetable Compound. Not all pharmacies carry it but you can make your own with a mortar and pestle and a few herbs and weeds from your garden. But the news isn’t all good. Doc Mallard says he’ll probably need to bleed me to cure my dropsy and cerebral softening.”

“You do know that the last person who was bled by a doctor was over a hundred years ago? At least on purpose.”

“Well it can’t hurt and who knows, it might even help me.”

“Tell me again why you quit your last physician.”

“I really liked him but my insurance wouldn’t cover me because he joined the Matasanos Medical Group.”

“You do know ‘matasanos’ roughly translates to “killers of the healthy?”

“I’d have stayed with him but he became part of the movement called concierge, valet or VIP medicine. It’s also called Beverly Hills medicine because rappers, drug dealers, sports stars and the Kardashians are joining up. To stay with the Matasanos Group I’d have to pay $2,700 up front for a yearly membership fee.”

“What is this, COSTCO medicine?” asked my vet.

“In addition to the yearly fee it’s $150 a visit, payable in cash. No insurance accepted. Basically it’s for wealthy clients. Perhaps it’s something you should look into for your veterinarian practice.”

“I really doubt that your average rancher is going to give me $2,700 just to establish a deeper relationship with me.”

“It’s basically a status symbol for rich people who want their doctor to make house calls,” I said.

“I do that now and no one is giving me $2,700 a year!” replied my vet.

“For this membership fee you get a promise the doctor will ALWAYS be on time and you’ll have complete access to a network of specialists your doc can refer you to in order to take part of the blame if things go wrong.”

“Who would I have in my network?” asked my vet.

“You could refer your patients to the tallow man or the leather tanner, for example. And if your client was reading an article in an old cow magazine the concierge vet would wait until you finished reading the article so he’d wait on you instead of the other way around. So what do you think of  the idea of VIP Vets or Beverly Hills boutique veterinarians?” I asked.

“I think the part about always being on time would be a real deal breaker for me,” replied my vet.