It’s a family thing…
Louise O’Hare and Kieran Corry run the only independent veterinary practice in Omagh – and their well thought-out approach to the provision and level of care on offer has been going down well with their local clientele.
Two Northern Irish vets passionate about offering a personal, high quality service have opened a new, independent practice in Omagh which, they say, will prioritise patient care and customer service and offer a more flexible approach to treating pets according to owners’ circumstances.
Corry and O’Hare opened on the Gortin Road in Omagh at the end of October, representing an investment of around £100,000 by Louise O’Hare, Kieran Corry and head nurse and partner, Terina O’Neill.
Located in a premises previously occupied for many years by a printing business, the new practice adopts a staunch patient-centric approach with high levels of customer care, as Louise O’Hare explained to NI Veterinary Today recently:
‘We had a lot of space to work with here and we wanted to create a practice based around the idea that people and their pets are a family… we wanted everyone to feel comfortable here, including those with individual needs because we recognise that no two families are the same,’ said Louise.
That approach is immediately obvious on arrival at the new practice. Corry and O’Hare has no fewer than three waiting areas. One is a dedicated cat waiting area and has been designed to look and feel like a typical living room – right down to the functioning fireplace and comfy reclining armchairs!
There’s another waiting area that’s reserved for those animals – or their owners – who feel nervous about their upcoming consultation.
And there’s a regular waiting room with complimentary refreshment where everyone else can wait to be seen.
Louise says that as far as she and Kieran are aware, this is the only practice in Northern Ireland that takes this approach in the waiting area.
Corry and O’Hare also has a euthanasia suite called The Rainbow Room where owners and their pets can have privacy during a very traumatic time.
And this is the only practice in Northern Ireland that has its own dedicated wildlife unit.
‘This week alone, we’ve dealt with two buzzards and a barn owl,’ says Louise. ‘We deal with a lot of wildlife cases here. Kieran has a special interest in the field.’
Elsewhere in the practice, Corry & O’Hare has three consulting rooms, a laboratory area and specialised surgical facilities including a small animal endoscope, TTA and dedicated orthopaedic theatre. The vets also have access to a SediVue analysis and diagnostic system, one of only a handful of practices outside Belfast that offer the service.
Louise O’Hare comes originally from Castlederg. She studied veterinary medicine after completing a degree in chemistry and French and worked for Vets4Pets in Belfast and Bangor before returning to work in Omagh.
Kieran comes from the border town of Strabane in Co. Tyrone. He began his veterinary career in mixed practice in Fintona before venturing into small animal work at a clinic in Birmingham, followed by seven years working in Dublin.
Both vets knew each other before going into business together, but Louise admits that it was the influence of Terina O’Neill – now their full-time veterinary nurse and a director – that convinced them they should take the plunge:
‘I think Kieran and I probably had the same idea about what we wanted to do,’ recalls Louise. ‘We both experienced a change of circumstances in the practices we were with, but it took Terina to bash our heads together and make us realise that we could do it.’
Terina had worked with both Kieran and Louise in the past:
‘She just kept telling us that this was what we needed to do. I think we were reluctant to begin with but she just kept pushing. Eventually, we all went for coffee and that was it, the decision was taken at that meeting that we would go ahead with it.’
That was back in 2018. The early part of this year was taken up with business plans and looking for premises and after taking possession of the building on the Gortin Road in July, they spent about three months on-site before opening the doors for business at the end of October.
Since then, says Louise the feedback from clients has been ‘fabulous’.
‘I think we’ve far surpassed what we hoped we could achieve,’ she adds. ‘For our opening day, we printed up a few dozen patient registration forms, but we actually registered over 750 in the first three days. Within a week of opening Corry & O’Hare were able to accept orthopaedic and soft tissue referrals from local practices, as well as the wildlife service, so we’re more than happy with the way things have gone.’
As for priorities, Louise says the new practice is focused on a family ethos that offers good quality, fairly- priced veterinary care.
‘We’re doing things such as moving away from having a table in every consulting room, we just have sofas or an armchair and that goes down really well with nervous pets. That’s really the type of approach we want to build on.’
Corry and O’Hare is the only independent practice now trading in Omagh, but does Louise feel threatened by the encroaching veterinary groups? Not at all, she says: ‘This is a small market town. The expectation around here is still for that type of country business where people feel free to barter with you a bit around prices. Because of that, we offer different flexible options based around what people can afford and we think people will respond well to that.
‘What we have here might not be for everybody, but I do think there is still room in the market for all of us.’
Louise admits that in the future, she and Kieran would like to expand, most likely into the west of Ireland.
‘We’d also like a bigger nursing team,’ she adds. ‘We really value and appreciate the skill set that veterinary nurses have and believe that veterinary nurses add immense value to a veterinary practice.’