Dear Valued VPP Family;
When I first wrote you about the pandemic in late March, we could not have known that almost 300 days later, this would still be our reality. While we’ve stayed close over these months, I wanted to reach out again as we close one of the toughest years that any of us has faced. There are many emotions that I personally have experienced over the last months, but the two that are constantly surfacing and are at the forefront for me, are pride and hope.
I am so incredibly proud of the strength, patience, professionalism, commitment and compassion that our entire team has demonstrated over these many months. During this time, our priority has remained steadfast to ensure our staff, clients and their pets remain safe, healthy and continue to have access to the services and products they need. The focus on our team’s health and safety will always be priority #1.
The new norm regarding curbside service, the agility of our teams and how we actually “get the work done” is nothing short of innovative and remarkable. It takes great resolve to not only pivot, but to sustain this new standard; persist through many months of uncertainty and still maintain the love, compassion and respect for both each other as fellow teammates and our clients and their pets which has always been at the core of VPP’s Mission and Values. Our relentless focus on adjusting how we get business done has allowed VPP to continue to grow in the midst of this global crisis. Our ability to adapt coupled with our tenacity is what allowed us to:
- Manage the spread of the virus within and across VPP hospitals (cheers to our stringent standards and relentless focus on team member health)
- Bring back furloughed employees in a few short weeks after the start of the pandemic
- Complete new partnerships with 9 new hospitals with another one or two that will close before the year is up
- Invest in our existing hospitals with maintenance and necessary capital improvements
- Helped 10 doctors make the transition from Associate Doctor to Partner
- Build and prepare for the launch of 2 new hospitals in partnership with existing doctor-partners which will open in Q1 of 2021
- Finish 2020 in a strong financial position (including cash balances, cash flows, etc.), thus poising us for another great year of growth in 2021
- Re-establish our 401K match after a brief pause and decision to create an even better platform for retirement planning through Principal
- Maintain our merit increases at our traditional levels and on par with the market
- Absorb the health insurance premium increase for 2020/21 to assure our team members and their families had no additional costs during these challenging times
- Bring together a group of VPP team members to begin important work on improving diversity, equity and inclusion across our organization
- Continue to support families in need through the VPP Assistance Fund with more than $120,000 contributed and paid out to over 190 VPP families; with ongoing support and valued funding from some key vendor partners this holiday season to continue support for our teams
- Actually help more new clients find their way to the care their pets need and deserve in light of the pandemic and many limitations
- Create a Medical Advisory Board dedicated to medical excellence, successful veterinary practice ownership and fostering a culture of collaboration and service
As we all share in the excitement of the great medical and scientific accomplishments that have allowed the rollout of the Coronavirus vaccine, there is truly light at the end of this long dark tunnel. And yet, while we are all acutely aware that there is hope and the signaling of the beginning of the pandemic’s end, we must not let our guard down. This hope is truly inspiring and surely the long-awaited healing for all of us is coming. For now, however, we must stand tall and hold firm to the safety practices we have all adopted and the focus on the clients and pets who need us.
Perhaps the greatest comfort and driver of hope is the knowledge that the work we do is so critical not only to our animal populations’ health and safety but our clients’ mental and emotional well-being. Dare I say, their very survival.
At the risk of being cliché, these are truly unprecedented times. These are unchartered waters. While all the work that we’ve done to poise the business for stability, longevity, and a promising future is good and important and undoubtedly positions VPP at a competitive advantage for continued record-breaking growth, it pales in comparison to the criticality of our team members’ health and safety — physical, mental, and emotional. As always, but especially in these days leading up to some of our most treasured and important holidays, please know that you, your teams and your families are at the center of our thoughts. Always during this time but especially this year, we need to take time to be with our families, to disconnect, to de-stress and to remember the people, the animals and all the little things that bring us joy.
If you find that you are needing extra support, please remember that every employee has access to our ComPsych – EAP for emotional support and resources at no cost. As we prepare for 2021, my wish for you, your teams and your families is an abundance of good health, love, joy and peace.