Staff Spotlight: Lorraine James
Have you noticed the beautiful landscaping surrounding our hospital this spring, summer, and autumn? We are so fortunate to have a naturally gifted gardener on our staff, Lorraine James. Lorraine takes great pride in her work and it sure brings a smile to all of our faces to see a bounty of blooming colors when we pull into the hospital parking lot each morning. Before the first frosty nights of fall strip away her plantings and foliage, we wanted to highlight Lorraine’s work and tell you a little more about LVH’s most tenured employee.
Lorraine has been at LVH and with Dr. Strickland since 1996. At the time, our practice was considerably smaller and Lorraine was able to assist in almost every area. (Technically, I don’t think we were big enough to have separate departments back then.) From answering phones in reception, to caring for pets in the kennel, and assisting our vets and techs during appointments and procedures, Lorraine has done it all! Today, she works in our administrative department and still helps out at reception when our Client Care Specialists need a hand. She also oversees our shelter animals and the adoption processes for these pets; Lorraine gets to know each animal’s personality and unique traits to help match them with their perfect family.
Let’s get to know Lorrain a little more and find out what it was like working with Dr. Strickland almost twenty years ago!
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Contributing to the health and well-being of pets and thus, their families! Also, being in a position to directly help place homeless animals in forever, loving homes is extremely fulfilling.
Do you have a favorite patient memory?
Her name was “Georgia” and she was the first homeless, neo-natal kitten I helped care for. (She was collectively named by the staff for the John Mayer song, “Why Georgia” which was popular at the time in 2003.) She was abandoned under a cold stairwell on the bottom floor of an apartment building in December. “Georgia” was only 2-3 days old when she was found and not in good shape. She needed a feeding tube from her mouth to her stomach and needed to be syringe-fed through the tube every two hours, around the clock. Her health improved initially, but at two weeks she had to be euthanized due to what we think was an abdominal obstruction. I cried, and cried. Little Georgia taught me so much about perseverance, unconditional love, and loving life in this moment.
You’ve been with Dr. Strickland since his humble beginnings. Do you have any interesting or funny Dr. S stories? Something even new employees may be surprised to know about him or the practice?
Actually, I haven’t been with Dr. Strickland since the very beginning. He was in practice for about ten years before me, I think!
Working at LVH was my first job after staying at home with our daughters for 12 years. I had other offers but chose LVH because during my interview when I asked Dr. S what his policy was on caring for my children if they ever got sick, his response was, “I would hope you would prefer to stay at home with your sick child instead of coming to work.” I knew this was a man with strong family values!
For my first LVH Christmas exchange gift party, I drew Dr. Strickland’s name…THE BOSS – YIKES! I didn’t know him very well and still felt a little intimidated by him, but colleagues said he loved camping. I bought him biodegradable toilet paper and a bandanna! (The price limit was $10.00 or less at the time.) When he opened the gifts he laughed and said, “Okay, so which do I use for which?” His laughter and goofy comment immediately put everyone in the room at ease, especially me!
LVH’s landscaping is beautiful and welcoming for our clients and patients. Have you always had an interest in landscaping and gardening? Are there any special features to our outdoor space that lets pets feel extra comfortable and stress-free?
I MUST HAVE FLOWERS, ALWAYS! It’s in my genes, as my dad has always been an avid gardener. He gave me a square of ground in the yard when I was eight to plant whatever I wanted! With the help of “Hubert” (as in Humphrey) our beloved family feline at the time, I planted tomatoes and marigolds. I still plant them together to this day!
I purposely planted the lavender plants along the steps by our entryway to help frightened or apprehensive pets feel less so when entering the hospital. Lavender is a very soothing and calming fragrance – hopefully it helps our more anxious patients feel relaxed as they sniff the plants upon entering. As lavender is a perennial, I plan to add more and different varieties in the future. I am also planning a Monarch Butterfly zone for next year. I had a beautiful butterfly keep me company all summer. Hopefully its offspring will keep all of us company next year!
If you weren’t taking care of animals working at LVH, what would you be doing?
I’d be a Park Ranger! Just kidding…sort of. I love being outdoors and a part of nature and actually wanted to go into Forestry in college but my parents told me I wouldn’t make any money. Honestly, I’d love to have my own landscaping business, designing custom gardens for clients.
Many thanks to Lorraine for sharing her thoughts (especially that Christmas story!) and more importantly, her beautiful gardening for all of us to enjoy everyday. While it’s just her hobby, Lorraine’s landscaping looks so professional, it could be her profession. Lucky for us, our clients, and patients, she chose the veterinary field and a career at LVH!