There was plenty of activity at Wellington Veterinary Hospital late last Thursday afternoon. Tracey Jensen and Teva Stone, both Doctors of Veterinary Medicine, were each engaged in emergencies that could not wait. Stone sewed up a lacerated dog paw with the help of vet tech Chelsea Harper and practice manager Connie Croak. On a nearby table, Jensen and vet tech Stacy Gentry worked to remove the fluid from the lungs of a 15-year-old cat. Soon-to-be Colorado State University veterinary student, Kaitlyn Thomas, held and stroked the 15-year-old cat, who was awake for the procedure, to offer comfort.
The women were sharply focused on their work but at the same time there was a strong sense of camaraderie in the room. They welcomed me to the area where they were at work and chatted back and forth easily, sharing information about each other and the devotion they share to the work they do, taking obvious pride in their accomplishments.
Vet tech Gentry has been with the practice for 15 years, since a short time after veterinarians Wayne and Tracey Jensen opened the practice in 1999 in the current location of Ingrained Bakery on Cleveland Avenue in Wellington. The Jensens met in Denver at National Jewish Research Center. Wayne was a researcher and Tracey was on her way to veterinary school. Five years after she graduated, the pair made the decision to open a practice in Wellington. “It was risky at the time,” Wayne said. “We weren’t sure that Wellington could support a veterinary clinic.”
The decision turned out to be a good one. “I think we encouraged others to open practices,” Wayne said. “Soon a dentist and a medical clinic felt confident enough to come to town.” The Jensens soon outgrew their space and in 2008 made the decision to build a state-of-the-art veterinary hospital. When they opened on Sixth Street in 2009, the economy was in trouble but the die had been cast. “It was quite a plunge,” Wayne said.
“I had a big weekend,” Stone said explaining that she graduated from CSU Veterinary School and delivered her first child the following day. Stone, who had originally planned to become a large animal vet, joined WVH in 2011 and happily switched to working with small animals. She became a partner in the business in 2014. The same year Dr. Jeret Benson joined the team.
The state-of-the-art hospital was designed by a Boulder firm who specializes in buildings for animal practices and animal shelters. Special ventilation in surgery suites and housing for individual animals insures against infection and provides a healthy environment.
In 2012 WVH scored so well on the 900 standards established by the American Animal Hospital Association that in addition to certification by the organization they were chosen from among five finalists to receive the AAHA Practice of the Year award, a national honor.
Today the practice thrives with a staff of 19. The permanent staff operates a general practice and has relationships with specialists such as a radiologist and orthopedic surgeon who serve the hospital on an as-needed basis.
In addition to his commitment to WVH, Wayne serves as interim department head for clinical sciences attached to the teaching hospital at the CSU Veterinary School. “The veterinarians and staff we have here do everything so well—better than I.” he says. “That enables me to do my job at CSU.”
When asked about how they spend their “free” time, Tracey responded. “We talk about the practice,” she says with a smile. But they do much more than that. They’re both runners and this spring will travel to Boston where Tracey, a veteran of many half-marathons and one prior 26.2-mile event, will run in the famous marathon. “When you work this hard you just have to have a way to recharge,” Tracey says.
The Jensens live in the Wellington area and treasure the small town feel of their community. “We’ve been here long enough that we are treating pets that belong to the children of some of our first clients,” Tracey said.
She said she was served at the Chocolate Rose Cafe and Coffee House by Wendell Nelson, DVM, who’d been director of the CSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital, and — after his retirement — owned the coffee shop with his wife, Sally. Tracey explained that she only knew of him, had never met him, when she was a student and was somewhat in awe. “He was a good waiter, too,” said Tracey. “I wasn’t sure what to do about a tip when I went to pay the bill.”
Five of the young people who work at WVH are on their way or soon will be, to the CSU Vet School. The Jensens provide them with encouragement and a sense of community and hope that one day they’ll show up a WVH looking for a job. The welcome mat will be out.