Gifts help to provide advanced care for critical patients

Dr. Sabrina Hoehne peered into her patient’s kennel as it rested in the small animal intensive care unit at Washington State University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital.

The dog’s underside was mostly shaved, evidence of a procedure performed days earlier to remove a cancerous mass from her abdomen. Tubes and cables stretched from the animal to machines and monitors critical to keeping her alive.

Her surgery had been a success, but she was now struggling to breathe on her own after developing aspiration pneumonia, a life-threatening condition that can occur when stomach contents are inhaled into the lungs.

“She’s fighting to stay alive,” Hoehne said. “What we have to do with these patients is give them additional oxygen beyond what they breathe from regular room air.”

Until recently, options would have been limited for this patient due to her large size and critical condition. But the gift of an Airvo High Flow Humidified Nasal Oxygen System by a generous donor is giving her and other patients improved chances.

“Previous to having this machine, we would have had to make the choice, do we euthanize her or put her in a drug-induced coma to put on a breathing machine, which unfortunately carries risks of its own and many patients do not recover sufficiently to be woken up from such a coma again,” Hoehne said.

For this patient, the new equipment can provide a much higher flow of oxygen than other available options, helping to keep her lungs inflated and get more oxygen into her bloodstream.

“There’s a high chance she might not be with us today without this machine,” Hoehne said.

The patient also benefited from the ICU’s Infinium Omni patient monitor system, which allows staff to track important patient information and vital signs. The system consists of six patient monitors connected via Wi-Fi to a central station where staff and students can monitor patient vitals and data in real-time.

“We would essentially have a lot of different machines and cables that are very difficult to maintain or that just do not measure some of the parameters this can, which means we would be flying blind a little bit,” Hoehne said. “A lot of our critical patients would not get the advanced care they are getting with this monitor.”

The Airvo machine and Infinium Monitor System were both donated by a long-time Alaskan client and “collie guy,” Michael Wilde, who hopes his gifts will encourage others to give to the Small Animal ICU Support Fund or any of the veterinary hospital support funds.

“Patient care is of primary importance, but so is the student education component and ICU staff support – giving the staff current state of the art equipment helps them perform in their day-to-day duties and is hopefully a morale booster for them,” Wilde said.

Hoehne and staff at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital are grateful for the generosity.

“Without the help of donors like Mr. Wilde, we wouldn’t be able to do our jobs to this level,” Hoehne said. “We are all trained to provide advanced care, but we can’t just do that with our bare hands and eyes.”

For information about how you can support the veterinary hospital, contact Kay Glaser at 509-335-4835 or