Goodheart and CCI

Dr. Beth Spencer and the CCI-Goodheart PartnershipIMG_0071

By Susan Wroble, July 2020 (Note: This article originally appeared in the Rocky Mountain Chapter of Canine Companions for Independence on-line newsletter, PeEmail)

Need a vet with a good heart? Dr. Beth Spencer, Medical Director of Goodheart Animal Health Care Center in Denver has teamed up with CCI to provide some of the medical care for CCI pups-in-program (PIPs) and graduate dogs.

Under the CCI Goodheart partnership, Goodheart will provide a free annual wellness exam (including the Rabies and DA2PP vaccinations, fecal exam, and a heartworm test). They will do a free senior comprehensive examination for any grad dogs over age seven, and are also extending their wellness dental discount. Additional support for CCI comes from vouchers that CCI can use at their discretion for dental procedures.

Dr. Spencer had known about CCI for years, but she became more familiar with the program when Vanessa Graziano and Kevin O’Grady began bringing their CCI pups to her. At that point, Dr. Spencer was with Firehouse Animal Hospital, where she worked for over a decade before starting up Goodheart Animal Health Care Center this past November.

Goodheart lives up to its name in more ways than one. The building, at 389 S. Broadway, is at the geographic heart of Denver, at the intersection of Broadway and Alameda. Broadway is the dividing line between east and west Denver; Alameda is the dividing line between north and south Denver. And the building is historic. Over a century old, it originally served as the Goodheart Laundry. The building’s chimney features intricate heart-shaped brickwork. And Dr. Spencer? Well, she has a great heart.

Dr. Spencer’s business and leadership goals stand out. “My first goal,” she said, “is to have fantastic medicine — but on top of that I want a happy team. Part of that means picking people who care about more than just the medicine. Second, I want our clients to feel good. What fills my bucket is the people that we can help.” To that end, Goodheart does a lot of giving back to the community. In the first three months of 2020 alone, Goodheart donated more than $15,000 to the community.IMG_0246

One of Goodheart’s partnerships is with Connect For Care. A program of the Colorado Veterinary Medical Association, Connect for Care helps defray some of the expenses that can be incurred in adopted an animal from a shelter. Under the Connect for Care program, veterinary clinics, including Goodheart, provide up to $250 works of care for shelter-related illnesses. Shelters find this partnership a powerful tool in helping clients make the decision to adopt.

Dr. Spencer and her staff are Free Free® certified veterinarians. The Fear Free® program strives to eliminate fear, anxiety and stress in pets. For Dr. Spencer and her staff, that involves taking the time to find ways to connect with the animals. It might involve spending time playing fetch with a ball-loving dog, or feeding tuna to a cat. Goodheart’s staff encourages “Happy visits” where clients come in for some love, treats, and a step on the scale — but no medical work. Dr. Spencer highly recommends the Fear Free® website. It features literally hundreds of videos and articles for pet owners, addressing issues such as fear, grooming, travel and training.

The Goodheart Center had been open less than four months when Covid hit. Dr. Spencer noted that they were very fortunate in the renovation of the building. Their goal had been transparency — to create a light, open, transparent space. Each examination room was glass in the rear, so that clients could see their animals in the treatment area. And the front of the building was open, with walls of glass as well. That openness has come in handy in an era of social distancing. Goodheart staff can work with the animal patient just inside the center, while the client can see everything but from the outside.

One of Dr. Spencer’s passions is open communication. She coaches veterinary students at Colorado State University, teaching the students “to ask open-ended questions, build trust and empathy and focus on the client’s concerns.” Goodheart also provides externships for some CSU vet students, and provides school tours (and now, virtual tours!) for school groups. Goodheart also gives “Vet-for-a-day” opportunities for fund-raising auctions and works with Community Resources Inc., mentoring students who are interested in veterinary work. And part of the Goodheart-CCI partnership will be featuring CCI stories on Goodheart’s social media several times a year.

Need a vet with a good heart? You’ve got one!

Goodheart Animal Health Center, 389 S. Broadway, Denver CO 80209, 720-647-2727;