The Redstone story, as told by our owner, Laura Downie, DVM
I am a Colorado native and graduated vet school from Colorado State University in 2003. After vet school, I was eager to see something new and ended up doing an internship and working in a busy practice in New York City. I became accustomed to working 6 day weeks, and feeling the drive to pay off some of my school debts- I worked longer hours than I probably should have. After I had my daughter in 2009, I eagerly moved back to Colorado. After maternity leave, it was time to get back to work but my memories of private practice gave me pause. I loved the clients and the practice in New York, but I had also been working at an emergency hospital. I had really burned myself out, and I was scared of doing the same thing and missing out on my daughter growing up.
I started looking into corporate practices because of the benefits that they offered, but I couldn’t find one that felt right to me. I had been spoiled by certain things at my NY practice, like 24-hour patient care, and I didn’t want to compromise. I interviewed for months and couldn’t find the right job until I met the people starting a brand new Humane Society serving the Littleton and Englewood area (The Humane Society of the South Platte Valley). I had done shelter work in the past and found it to be very rewarding. I knew that a lot of local vets do not look kindly upon shelter vets, but I was so excited about this new position- I eagerly accepted. I put together their brand new spay-neuter program. Once we opened, I would spend 6 hours a day doing surgery and the rest of the time consulting on shelter cases. The pay was barely enough to make my student loan payment, but it was worth it. Working with shelter animals and an under-served community reinvigorated my passion for being a veterinarian. It was the perfect job for me at that time. Eventually, I grew to miss private practice. I missed the relationships that you can build with clients and their pets while working in private practice. So, I started doing relief work in the Denver area on my days off from the shelter. Mostly, I was an ER vet at VRCC. But I also took up a regular relief position working in the afternoons at Redstone Animal Hospital for Dr. Jim Hailey.
Redstone was so slow and I couldn’t quite figure out why because I thought the location was good, right on Santa Fe. But the practice was dated. It was an old house that had been attempted to be transformed into a clinic. And Dr. Hailey was a great guy, but understandably focused on retirement and had moved to the mountains. My dad was an entrepreneur and I think he passed his entrepreneurial spirit to me because I always wanted to be my own boss. While touring one of the corporate practices during an interview, I recall a dog they were sending to an ER for surgery at the end of the day. I asked why they weren’t doing the surgery, themselves, the Doctor told me that they never stay late because it affected profitability. I was astounded as I couldn’t imagine sending my patient elsewhere during their time of greatest need.
I ended up purchasing Redstone from Dr. Hailey. He kindly carried some of the note as my bank thought it was a “risky venture” due to how slow the practice was at that time. Our kennel, My Pets Place, was much busier than the clinic and was the reason that I could make payroll for that first year. In the early days, it was so slow- I had a lot of trouble sleeping at night. I operated with one receptionist and one technician. But, I had time to dream! My vision was a practice where the employees take their job seriously, but not themselves too seriously! A practice where we could help shelter vets and work with our local shelter. A practice where the animal wasn’t scared to come in and there was no “dragging the animal to the back”, everything could be done with the client present. And our prices would be set at a competitive point so that everyone could afford us, while still delivering excellent medicine.
So, Redstone was born and I think we have stayed true to all of these visions. We have grown from a slow one Doctor practice to a busy five Doctor practice in the past eight years. Thank you to an SBA loan, I renovated the building five years ago. If only I could go back in time and add a little more space but I never thought we would continue to grow! We have been very blessed to gain the support of our community. Somehow, I continue to make that SBA loan payment every month!
The truth is- I love being a vet! I am extremely grateful to be able to do what I do every day. If you come to Redstone and you are seeing one of my associates, I hired each one of them because they embody the type of practice that I envisioned. If you decide to come check us out, I hope that you will experience what most of our clients say sets us apart.
If you are still reading this, Thank you! I’m sorry it’s such a long story but I feel like all of these details came together for me to start this practice. I truly hope that you will come to check us out and give us an opportunity to be a small part of your family by serving as your local veterinarian.