Long Island Veterinary Specialists, or “LIVS” to the knowledgeable pet owner, is Long Island’s premier veterinary specialist center with capabilities comparable to human medical centers. With the busiest 24-hour emergency and critical care center on Long Island and a staff of over 150 dedicated professionals, this prestigious center never forgot the hospital “core values” of 3 of the original members, Drs. Marino, Panich, and Sapienza. From their humble beginning in Levittown as “Island Veterinary Referral” in 1993, these core values are responsible for the success the center enjoys today.
Dr. Meyer “Mike” Kaplan, veterinary surgeon and owner of Levittown Animal Hospital, was convinced Long Island was ready for a veterinary specialist center and formed Island Veterinary Referral with Dr. John Sapienza, veterinary ophthalmologist, that first year. Almost immediately, Dr. Rada Panich, veterinary dermatologist, and Dr. Dominic J. Marino, veterinary surgeon, joined them, recognizing the potential and sharing in the common vision. It was readily apparent to all a synergy existed and this incredible energy benefited both the doctors and their patients. The growth at Levittown Animal Hospital was unprecedented and soon began to “crowd” the functions of the very popular general practice at the same facility. During the intense planning to relocate the growing referral center, Dr. Mike Kaplan was diagnosed with a fatal brain malignancy without warning. Although he never worked at the new Plainview facility, he monitored its development closely, advised the founding members when asked to help and imparted a wealth of common sense management skills and life experiences to three young, enthusiastic specialists embarking on the development of the largest veterinary center in the tri-state region.
In June 1998, Island Veterinary Referral became Long Island Veterinary Specialists and opened its doors to the public. Before passing, Dr. Mike Kaplan visited the facility; seeing it operational made him smile. With a staff of 24 dedicated and overworked employees, case after case received care never thought possible at Long Island’s first veterinary specialist center with a CT scanner and a fully-equipped emergency and critical care center. Within weeks, the staff doubled to forty and extra telephone lines were added to handle the unexpected call volume. Joined by an array of specialists in almost every specialty discipline, LIVS has become a regional specialist resource not only for pet owners, but also for family veterinarians, local veterinary specialists and even veterinary schools. Experienced specialists, advanced equipment found at a handful of centers in the country and a dedicated staff have made LIVS the place where veterinary specialists send cases for advanced diagnostics and treatments ranging from brain surgery, intraocular lens implantation, cancer therapy, hip replacements, cardiac evaluations, allergy testing and therapy and MRI. Referrals for care at LIVS have not only come from the local area and tri-state region, but from Florida, Texas, the U.S. Virgin Islands and even Japan!
Despite all challenges, natural or man-made, LIVS has never closed its doors nor refused a case. Although winter blizzards strain hospital resources, the staff, as always, meets the challenge. With employees voluntarily sleeping at the facility to maintain patient staffing, while others drive to pick-up the willing to relieve the weary on duty, LIVS is one of the few veterinary emergency centers open from Brooklyn to Montauk. Staff doctors (founders included), technicians, employees and even grateful pet owners have shoveled snow around the clock for days to keep the path clear to the hospital doors and so, like it had done in the past, LIVS stays open—the way Dr. Kaplan would have expected. He always knew it would be successful, he told the founding members, but not like this!
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