Pulse - July 2022 - 9

JIM BELL
SCVMA PROFILE
Dr. Prupas Working to Bring
AlignCare Service to Los Angeles
D
r. Jeremy Prupas, chief veterinarian for the Los
Angeles City Department of Animal Services,
is helping launch a new service called AlignCare,
intended to aid needy pet owners with veterinary bills
they often cannot pay.
" The goal is not just to help the animal. It's to help the whole
family. The idea is that if someone is having problems paying for a
pet's care, there are probably other things going on in that family's
life that they need help with. So AlignCare has [focused on] the
human side of this problem. That's really what got my attention at
the very beginning. This is really the One Health approach to try
to get help for everybody who needs it. "
The concept originated with Dr. Michael Blackwell, a veterinarian
at the University of Tennessee veterinary school. " I became
friends with him in one of the [veterinary] groups I was in, " Dr.
Prupas said. " I learned a lot about AlignCare from him. And I said
to him: 'You know what, Michael, let's try it. I don't know why we
can't make it work in LA.' "
The Los Angeles project - the first community trying to implement
the program from the ground up - began a few months ago,
Dr. Prupas said. It initially is focused on South Los Angeles, where
Downtown Dog Rescue is a major player in pet welfare.
" We're trying to get the word out, at this point, " he said. " DDR
has gotten about 60 families into the program so far. Fund-raising
efforts to provide the cash needs of the program have come up
with about $90,000. " What we have to figure out is how to make
that sustainable, " Dr. Prupas said.
" I started working on this about a year ago, " he said. " We have an
advisory committee made up of individuals - veterinarians, animal
welfare people - who are trying to get the program up and running.
" Basically, the idea is that you form a partnership with community
veterinarians, and they agree that they will discount their
prices. They submit their invoices on the internet and AlignCare
pays them directly. "
Participating hospitals are asked to lower their fees as much as they
can, Dr. Prupas said. " I think AlignCare asks them for a 20% cut. But
the hospitals decide what they're going to charge. AlignCare doesn't
interfere with the decisions of the vets or the practice owners. "
The pet owner is responsible for 20 percent of the discounted
bill, he said, " so they still have a stake in it. But it's a way for the
pet hospital to feel that it will get paid. And the veterinarian makes
the decisions with the pet owner on what kind of care they're
going to provide. "
Dr. Prupas agreed that AlignCare " is quite similar to Angel
Fund " in the way it works.
" The goal is that if any pet owner comes into a vet hospital or to
a shelter asking for help, they're going to be referred to AlignCare.
They would go online and fill out an application. It's very simple.
Basically, the pet owner would just have to prove that he or she is on
some form of assistance. If you can prove that it's almost automatic
that you're accepted into the program. Then the pet owner is told of
PULSE
JULY 2022
the hospitals that are
part of the program
and chooses which
hospital to visit. "
He said
that
AlignCare includes
a national team of
veterinary
social
workers who will
help families by
referring them to
whatever social services
they need
and helping them
converse with their veterinary teams if there are any issues. There
are also " human support coordinators " who can help pet owners
sign up for the program and make necessary arrangements such as
appointments and arranging transportation to the hospital.
The challenge, he said, can be in where the money comes from to
pay the AlignCare part of the bill. " The idea behind it is that the community
donates the money to pay the bills. For instance, in LA we've
been talking to several different animal welfare organizations.That first
$90,000 was easy but we've had a lot of difficulty getting beyond that.
" Making it sustainable is really what keeps me up at night. How
will we be able to raise enough money to keep this going as we
expand? That's why we decided to start slow and small. "
Dr. Prupas said that the LA group has a fund-raising subcommittee
that " is working to try to figure out where there are other
sources of funds, ideally on the human side of it. I really think
that the human social services side could provide the bulk of the
money we will need long term. I think there's a lot more money
[available] there than in the animal culture side. "
And, he pointed out, there are major benefits for pet families
who get financial help. Besides helping them avoid the strain on
the family budget of a large expenditure, it can prevent the mental
- sometimes physical - trauma of losing their pets and it can keep
the family structure intact.
The next step for Los Angeles AlignCare will be to expand
beyond South Los Angeles and to get more veterinarians involved,
Dr. Prupas said. " At some point we're going to do a webinar with
the SCVMA to put out there what we're doing. We're looking for
more veterinary hospitals that might want to join. We'll also need
to expand in a way that doesn't make us run out of money. "
Dr. Prupas has served as chief veterinarian for Los Angeles Animal
Services for nearly 14 years. He supervises six shelters that
employ six veterinarians and 22 RVTs. He earned his veterinary
degree at the University of Pennsylvania and has practiced in Connecticut
and San Diego, where he owned a feline practice. He also
directed a vet tech school in Phoenix before taking his present job.
He is married to Dr. Lisa Stegman, who works as a relief veterinarian.
They have two sons, Justin, 18, and Kyle, 16.
Contact Dr. Prupas at jeremy.prupas@lacity.org.
9

Pulse - July 2022

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Pulse - July 2022

Pulse - July 2022
Chapter Meetings & Calendar
President’s Perspective
Pulsepoints
SCVMA Profile
COVER FEATURE STORY
Practical Pathology
UC Davis Update
Tools for Success
Angel Fund
The RVT
Industry Insights
Quick Reference
AVMA Diplomates
Digital Photography for Veterinarians
Resources
Disease Table
From the SCVMA Office
Pulse - July 2022 - Pulse - July 2022
Pulse - July 2022 - Cover2
Pulse - July 2022 - 1
Pulse - July 2022 - 2
Pulse - July 2022 - Chapter Meetings & Calendar
Pulse - July 2022 - President’s Perspective
Pulse - July 2022 - Pulsepoints
Pulse - July 2022 - 6
Pulse - July 2022 - 7
Pulse - July 2022 - 8
Pulse - July 2022 - SCVMA Profile
Pulse - July 2022 - COVER FEATURE STORY
Pulse - July 2022 - 11
Pulse - July 2022 - 12
Pulse - July 2022 - Practical Pathology
Pulse - July 2022 - UC Davis Update
Pulse - July 2022 - Tools for Success
Pulse - July 2022 - Angel Fund
Pulse - July 2022 - The RVT
Pulse - July 2022 - Industry Insights
Pulse - July 2022 - Quick Reference
Pulse - July 2022 - AVMA Diplomates
Pulse - July 2022 - Digital Photography for Veterinarians
Pulse - July 2022 - 22
Pulse - July 2022 - 23
Pulse - July 2022 - 24
Pulse - July 2022 - Resources
Pulse - July 2022 - Disease Table
Pulse - July 2022 - 27
Pulse - July 2022 - 28
Pulse - July 2022 - 29
Pulse - July 2022 - 30
Pulse - July 2022 - 31
Pulse - July 2022 - 32
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Pulse - July 2022 - From the SCVMA Office
Pulse - July 2022 - Cover3
Pulse - July 2022 - Cover4
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