Jump Media interviewed Dr. Scott Swerdlin, DVM, MRCVS, and President of Palm Beach Equine Clinic to learn more about the Clinic’s simple beginnings and evolution into one of the largest veterinary practices in the United States.
What was the genesis of Palm Beach Equine Clinic? Why was it started, how big was it, how many vets worked in the beginning, what kinds of services were offered?
In 1979, Dr. Paul Wollenman came to Wellington, Florida to principally care for Lion Country Safari’s exotic animals. Dr. Wollenman started to build the physical structure of Palm Beach Equine Clinic in 1981. I joined PBEC in 1983 and it was the beginning of a remarkable partnership. Mine and Dr. Wollenman’s strengths complemented each other well. I had recently resigned my Captaincy in the United States Airforce Veterinary Core and was excited to come back to where I grew up.
In 1991, we enticed Dr. Robert W. Brusie to join us from his successful surgical practice in Atlanta, GA. Dr. Brusie joined us to build the modern foundation of Palm Beach Equine Clinic. I was extremely fortunate to have these two extraordinary veterinarians as mentors. Shortly after Dr. Brusie joined us, we had an exceptional surgical service routinely treating colic cases and performing orthopedic surgeries. The final piece of the puzzle was to bring on a remarkable veterinarian from the next generation. We found that missing piece in 2003, when Dr. Richard Wheeler joined the team.
When did PBEC evolve into its current state?
The evolution of Palm Beach Equine Clinic has been constant and ever increasing. The growth of Palm Beach Equine Clinic mirrored the growth of the show horse industry through 2005. Ten years ago, we witnessed an exponential growth in the dressage discipline. From our simple beginnings, we now have twenty-eight veterinarians. What I take great pride in is my job is to keep twenty-eight veterinarians happy and explore additional opportunities to continue to grow and improve. Almost 30 years ago, Palm Beach Equine Clinic bought the first ultrasound for equine practice in South Florida. Twenty-five years ago, Palm Beach Equine Clinic installed the first gamma-ray camera to perform bone scans (Nuclear Scintigraphy). Twenty years ago, we developed Computed Radiography (CR) for horses. Currently, Palm Beach Equine Clinic has the most advanced state-of-the-art surgical and diagnostic imaging equipment for the horse. Onsite, we have a Hallmarq standing MRI unit, MiE gamma ray camera, Digital Radiography, Video Endoscopy, and a bevy of additional diagnostic equipment. Palm Beach Equine Clinic is dedicated to providing exceptional veterinary service for the horse.
What are the most important parts of PBEC?
No question, it is our staff. Palm Beach Equine Clinic is dedicated to providing a culture of respect and excellent communication. Palm Beach Equine Clinic encourages every technician and employee to embrace their position not just as a job, but as a career. Many of our technicians and administration staff have been a part of Palm Beach Equine Clinic for over 10 years. I want every person who works here to feel as though they are part of a team. Unequivocally, the most important part of Palm Beach Equine Clinic is its family of employees.
How was PBEC changed in the past several years?
Over ten years ago, we were fortunate to have Dr. Bill Patterson, Dr. Gary Priest, Dr. Bob Smith, Dr. Hilary Clayton, Dr. Jordan Lewis, and Dr. Kathleen Timmins join Palm Beach Equine Clinic to contribute to the culture and the success that we currently enjoy. In the past several years, we have added multiple, additional extraordinarily talented veterinarians. Dr. Jorge Gomez, Dr. Weston Davis, Dr. Sarah Puchalski, Dr. Bryan Dubynsky, Dr. Janet Greenfield, Dr. Tyler Davis, Dr. Daren Tamplin, Dr. Natalia Novoa, Dr. Ryan Lukens, Dr. Selina Passante-Watt, and Dr. Sarah Allendorf have all recently joined the Palm Beach Equine Clinic team within the past five years. We have updated all of our technical capabilities and we have added an Annex Office on the WEF show grounds in Wellington, Florida.
What do you see PBEC adding in 2016?
For Palm Beach Equine Clinic, 2016 will be an exciting year for expansion of our physical facility. Palm Beach Equine Clinic plans on adding an additional 4,000 square feet of air conditioned examination areas, an additional surgical suite and recovery stall, as well as climate controlled isolation quarantine stalls. Under the guidance of Dr. Sarah Puchalski, our in house Board Certified Radiologist, Palm Beach Equine Clinic hopes to add the first equine Computed Tomography service (CT scans) to our diagnostic imaging expertise.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Palm Beach Equine Clinic owes all of its success to the horsemen and horsewomen of South Florida. We thank you for trusting our Doctors and staff with your precious family member, your horse. PBEC Veterinarians volunteer their time for many projects in our community. It is our pleasure to support Vinceremos Therapeutic Riding Center, Charity Challenge, One World, and many other local charities. Our doctors also contribute their time to providing veterinary care for the Winter Equestrian Festival and Global Dressage Festival as the Official Veterinarians. Palm Beach Equine Clinic is dedicated to providing exceptional care to your horse and is committed to improving our relationship with our clients, as well as our community.