People Said We’d Fail, But My Family Clinic With Video Games And Therapy Cats Is Full Only 6 Months After Opening
Back in 2017, two of the cats I had raised from kittens had become Guinness World Record Title holders. Arcturus Aldebaran Powers was the tallest cat to ever live and Cygnus Regulus Powers had the longest tail on a cat ever (All my cats are named for stars). I had designed a diet for them that I thought was what would be ideal for a feline species. It was highly synthetic and by no means natural, but I’m all about science and evidence-based things, and I’m fairly sure it turned them both into giants.
Life was pretty great, and we were booking TV shows and charity events, as I was president of the Ferndale Cat Shelter at the time, and the cats’ fame helped us raise money to help Detroit rescue and street cats.
On Nov 12th 2017, my wife (who is also a doctor) left in the morning to go round in the hospital. I woke up about an hour later to smoke alarms and my living room ablaze. I searched for the cats and opened as many escape paths as possible until I finally passed out from smoke. Ultimately, I made it to the basement where I was rescued by first responders. The house burned to the foundation, and we lost everything, including our beloved cats Arcturus, Sirius and Cygnus.
(So this is me here on a random Tuesday with Hyperion, one of the resident therapy cats. Life is good, but it wasn’t always so.)
The tragedy completely devastated me, and it took me over a year to recover mentally and physically from it. When I was cleared to go back to work, I decided I didn’t want to live my life how I did previously. I spent my 20s studying and training to be a doctor, and it was almost all for nothing. I decided that being happy and enjoying my life was worth far more, and so I decided to start my own family practice clinic, Powers Family Medicine.
I decided to theme the practice around me and my interests, which are mostly cats and video games. I told some colleagues that I planned to launch a family practice that would have therapy cats and video game decorations and they told me I was insane and that it would be a complete failure as people want to go to a sterile, simple, professional-looking place for medical care. I decided to proceed anyway, and rented a small office space near the ruins of my old home (which is currently being rebuilt). We have been wildly successful, and are currently the #1 patient-rated family practice in our state.
The therapy cats are all exotic hybrids (early generation Bengals and Savannah cats) who lack the Fel D1 gene in their saliva, and so people with severe cat allergies are unaffected by them. We recently had a patient who is so allergic to cats that she carries an epi-pen for it come to the office. She got to pet Polaris, and broke down into tears because she loves cats but wasn’t able to pet one for almost 30 years. The cats aren’t allowed in sterile zones, but otherwise, have free reign of the office. (They are fully vaccinated and free of zoonotic infections, and so honestly the doorknob to the office is more of a risk to you than they are)
Our clinic is special in that it welcomes truly everyone. We are friendly and cater to the LGBT population, and also have a lot of alt/kink/BDSM, commercial sex workers, polyamorous patients, HIV+ patients (which I treat and prescribe PrEP) and other people who feel like they can’t be open and honest with their doctor. We also have some middle-class families in the mix too, all are welcome and treated with respect! In short, we don’t care what anyone else thinks, just tell us the truth and we will help keep you safe and healthy.
I expected it would take years for me to develop the practice, as 5-7 years is pretty normal. We’ve now been open for 6 months, and as of today, we are completely full. We have over 1000 patients in the practice, and we’ve established a waiting list for people to get on if they want to transfer their care to us. I’m looking into expansion options and hiring some help so that we can continue to accept new patients, but for now, that has to wait.
If you’ve read this far and want to see what we’ve built, let me give you a tour!
Hi! Welcome to the tour! I’m Dr. Powers, and this is my clinic!
In the main lobby, there is a full-size custom arcade machine that pretends to be a yet unreleased title “The Drs. Powers And The Starcats”.
The cats have free rein of the office. Also, every exam room has a SNES classic in it to play while you wait!
Phoenix Arcturus Powers is the resident Savannah cat, and he works on Mondays and Thursdays. He is the half brother of Arcturus Aldebaran Powers, the tallest cat to ever live.
Phoenix basks in the rainbow sunbeams.
Exam room 1, we have special prism film on the windows which produces rainbows when it’s sunny out.
At our clinic, you check in using your initials only. You are then assigned an Amiibo (the name is printed on the bottom if you don’t know the character). Then, when it’s your turn to be called back, my MA will say “Pikachu!” and you come back to the exam room. This way, no matter who is in the lobby at the same time as you, your privacy is maximally preserved.
Phoenix likes to hang out at the nurses’ station and receive pets from patients passing by.
Phoenix is aggressively friendly, and is very demanding for pets and attention from anyone who approaches him.
Panoramic view of the lobby, we have a big screen TV out there which streams multiple streaming services and also has a SNES Classic. On this day someone had queued up Sword Art Online from Crunchyroll
Surrounding the nurses’ station are nano leaf light panels that have an animated ever-flowing rainbow pattern.
Panoramic view of the lobby
The cats tend to really like room 1 due to its warm spot near the windows.
There are many rainbows around the office.
Sometimes the therapy cats have received sufficient pets for the day, and need to take a break to their heated bed.
Behind Polaris on the counter is a question block box. Being as we didn’t need to spend any money on advertising as the clinic was instantly so popular, we instead put someone’s name in the bin when they refer a person who establishes care. Then, we draw names during the month to give away prizes like a Nintendo switch or 3dsXL.
We have a community board where patients or their families can post up whatever they like. Polaroids of the art chalkboard from every month also get posted here.
Lobby big screen
Front desk check-in. I’m really into bitcoin and have been for a very long time, so we accept it at our clinic!
We have a chalkboard where patients can draw whatever they like. It gets erased on the 1st of every month.
The lobby and every exam room have multi-chargers in place for your convenience.
Another view of the main lobby.
Receptionists desk. Yes, she has a gaming desktop and razer hardware such as her chroma keyboard.
The Guinness world record certificates for my late cats, Arcturus Aldebaran Powers and Cygnus Regulus Powers
The anatomy of Mario at weigh-in.
You’re liable to run into a big cat lounging on an exam table upon entering the room!
Close shot of the anatomy of Mario from Etsy: PipperilloStudios
The back wall has x-rays of the various consoles and gaming controllers
Close up shot of one of the x-rays
Myself, my MA, and whatever resident/med student I have rotating with me for the day all use Razer Blade Stealth gaming laptops with full chroma keyboards as our work laptops.
Exam room 1
Chrono trigger shadowbox. The canisters on the shelf contain my tongue depressors and so on.
The wall in room 1
Super Metroid menu outside exam room 2
Exam room 2
Legend of Zelda shadowbox art
Similar canisters to room 1
Rupee succulent planters from Etsy: HylianWords
Exam room 3 (procedure room)
The countertop of exam room 3
More exam room 3
Another shot of the nano leaf setup around the nurses’ station
When you refer a patient and that person establishes care, your name goes on a blank card and into this bin. Once or twice a month I draw a name out and that person gets a gaming console. Usually a Nintendo switch or 3dsXL
Hyperion Procyon Powers enjoying the rainbow sunbeams
Phoenix works Monday and Thursday, Hyperion Tuesday, and Polaris Wednesday. On Fridays, both Hyperion and Polaris come.
Sometimes over lunch I take a little gaming break.
My wonderful receptionist Laura and my amazing medical assistant Stacy! I couldn’t have made this place without them.
Anyways, thanks for checking us out! We are currently full, and do have a waiting list for anyone who wishes to become a new patient. The list is first come first served, and so as patients move away, we get less busy, or we manage to expand and hire another provider we will pull people off the waiting list.