Capitola Veterinary Hospital named Cool California Business of the Year

Capitola Veterinary Hospital named Cool California Business of the Year

By Jondi Gumz, Santa Cruz Sentinel

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Dr. River May will receive the Cool California Business of the Year award Thursday for ‘exceptional’ climate change management practices at Capitola Veterinary Hospital including paperless records and laminated reusable patient charts with documented savings. Since he and his wife bought the practice in 2010, the number of clients has doubled and the staff has grown from six to 11 employees. (Dan Coyro — Santa Cruz Sentinel file)

CAPITOLA >> As the local economy struggled in the past five years to recover from recession, Dr. River May at Capitola Veterinary Hospital doubled the number of clients, grew his staff from six to 11 employees, and saved $1,500 a year by making decisions from an environmental perspective.

The state Air Resources Board will honor Capitola Veterinary Hospital on Thursday as one of four Cool California Businesses of the Year for “exceptional” climate change management practices reducing greenhouse gas emissions along with documented savings.

Allterra Solar of Santa Cruz and Geo. H. Wilson Inc., a Santa Cruz plumbing contractor, are among 12 small businesses designated climate leaders for taking steps to reduce their climate impact and communicating this to employees and customers.

“Whether they are running a plumbing company or a bagel shop, they are demonstrating that the connection between climate-friendly business practices and a healthy bottom line is both real and positive,” said Air Resources Board chairman Mary Nichols.

Nomination forms submitted by the applicants were scored by two-member teams from public agencies and private businesses, with Air Resources Board staff conducting site visits to select the winners.

A year ago, Capitola Veterinary Hospital was recognized as a climate leader for converting from keeping medical records on paper to typing patient information into computer software, replacing brochures on pet care with information sent by email, shifting from film to digital X-rays and paying bills by credit card.

To document patient health and to write prescriptions, office staff use a wet-erase pen to write on laminated sheets, which are scanned into the computer and attached to the patient chart before being washed and reused.

Wasteful T12 bulbs were replaced with T8 fluorescents and recyclable LED tubes. To save water, a foot pedal was installed for the surgical scrub station along with low-flow toilets.

“We are committed to reducing our environmental impact in every way possible,” said May, who bought the Capitola practice with his wife Cindy May in June 2010.

“I believe our quality of life as humans is directly connected to the quality of the environment,” he said. “Of course the business results are important too and they have been profound for our hospital.”

A year after the changes, he was able to document savings from lower energy costs and less money spent on paper.

Productivity is up, according to May, because records can be accessed by any staffer from any work station unlike those on paper, which sometimes took an hour or more to locate.

“Many studies have shown that much of an employee’s day is spent searching for information in a paper-based environment,” he said.

Digital records are easier to read and digital X-rays are higher quality, contributing to better care, he added, noting clients can make appointments, buy medications, obtain medical records, invoices and vaccine certificates by going online.

“Clients love that they can communicate with us via email and through our website,” he said.

This year Capitola Veterinary Hospital partnered with Arcadia Power to buy renewable energy, upgrading to a programmable Energy Star thermostat, and offers customers a $25 gift certificate if they sign up

“We are trying to spread the word about it through Facebook,” May said.


Allterra Solar, Santa Cruz: A Monterey Bay Certified Green business, Allterra installed energy-efficient lighting, conducted an energy audit to determine its carbon footprint, established a waste reduction and recycling program, uses environmentally friendly cleaning products, and provides employees with alternative transportation, using hybrid, electric or biofuel vehicles whenever possible.

Geo. H. Wilson Inc., Santa Cruz: Third-generation family owned and operated plumbing and mechanical company was the first Certified Green plumbing contractor in Santa Cruz in 2006 and a charter member of Think Local First Santa Cruz County. In 2014, Geo. H. Wilson bought paper products with recycled content of 30 percent or more, converted to energy-efficient equipment, established a recycling/reuse program and diverted all construction debris from the landfill, saving over $12,000.

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