Practitioner Updates

Neuro Team Meets You Where You Are

Back row from left: Dr. Lindsey Graham, resident; Dr. Kari Foss; Dr. Aaron Paushter, resident; Dr. Devon Hague. Front row from left: Paige Demblon, CVT; Nick Colvin, customer service representative; Denise Weber, CVT and clinical coordinator. Not pictured: Dr. Jessica Wagner, resident; Dr. Ryan Barfield, specialty intern.

Ten years ago, Dr. Devon Hague joined our hospital’s clinical faculty to rebuild a neurology service that had been without a boarded neurologist for 10 years. Aided by Denise Weber, a veterinary technician with extensive experience in neurology, Dr. Hague divided her time between clinics, teaching, and some research.

Fast forward to 2022, and our neurology and neurosurgery service is about to expand its faculty to three boarded neurologists assisted by two CVTs and a neuro-dedicated client services representative. The service also includes four residents and a specialty intern.

From the start, the focus has been on supporting clients, veterinary students, and referral partners with the knowledge and service that meets their needs.

Private Practice Experience

“All three of us bring private practice experience to our roles in the academic setting,” says Dr. Hague, referring to Dr. Kari Foss, who joined the faculty in 2016, and Dr. Rose Krupka Peters, who will become the third boarded neurologist when she arrives this fall.

“I think that helps us appreciate the importance of service. Yes, we have a 3T MRI, and we’ll offer the top-of-the line diagnostics to our clients, but we’ll also provide options to give their animal the best possible care that fits their budget.”

Rounding with veterinary students, the neuro team ensures that the students understand how to conduct a neurological examination and locate the source of the problem. When proposing diagnostics and treatment options, students are encouraged to think about ways they could help the patient within a general practice setting.

Meet the Team Members

The newest member of the team, Dr. Peters, earned her DVM at Illinois in 2005. She says joining the faculty will feel like coming home. For a number of years, she was the only veterinary neurologist practicing in New Orleans, La. Most recently she has been part of a specialty practice in Palm Springs, Fla. She’ll be bringing expertise in acupuncture along with her extensive neurology experience.

Dr. Foss earned her DVM at Illinois a few years after Dr. Peters, in 2008. Her appointment includes a focus on research. Currently she is collaborating with Texas A&M to offer a clinical trial looking into the role of the microbiome in dogs with spinal cord injury. She is also overseeing a pharmacokinetic study of the intramuscular delivery of the anticonvulsant levetiracetam (Keppra) in an ER setting.

The neuro service has a very collaborative relationship with the small animal surgery team. The services consult on complicated fractures and imaging as well as share the caseload of spinal cord injuries. They hold a monthly neurosurgery journal club, allowing the surgery and neurology residents and faculty to discuss neurosurgery cases and best practices.

Within the hospital’s new surgery wing, both orthopedics and neurology have dedicated ORs, eliminating the potential for bumping a scheduled surgery for an emergent surgery.

Here for You

Dr. Hague says the neurology service prioritizes consult calls from our referral partners. “We do our best to take your calls at any time,” she says, even occasionally interrupting a surgery to talk a practitioner through an urgent situation. “Never hesitate to call with questions. We don’t expect you to remember everything about neuro! And besides, it’s really fun when we hear from a former student.”

In September, a number of Illinois graduates who have gone on to specialize in neurology, including some who completed their residencies at our college, will be speakers at the annual Fall Conference for Veterinarians.

If you have questions about estimates and scheduling appointments with the neurology service, please call CVTs Denise Weber or Paige Demblon or the client service representative Nick Colvin at 217-300-6892.