Two Prominent Kentucky Veterinarians To Merge Clinics

Two prominent and long-standing Kentucky equine veterinary clinics, Harthill & Priest Equine Surgery and Park Equine Hospital, will merge their practices beginning Jan. 1, Drs. John Park and Gary Priest announced this week.

Priest will close his Woodford County clinic and become the chief operating officer of the nearby Park Equine Hospital in Woodford, Ky. Park will continue as CEO of both the Paris and the Woodford locations, but the Paris clinic will change to an outpatient surgery and diagnostic facility. The pharmacy and lab will remain open in both locations.

Park said that merger of the two hospitals will provide greater accessibility to more horse owners over a broader geographic slice of the Bluegrass and to neighboring states.

“By joining forces, along with the current roster of veterinarians and some new additions, we will be able to offer enhanced  diagnostic techniques, surgical and medical options,” he said.

Priest is a surgeon, track veterinarian and diagnostician of 43 years, with decades of experience not only with horses in training, but with breeding farms and sale yearlings. He will supervise the larger state-of-the-art facility in Woodford County while continuing his passion for equine surgery.

Dr. Gary Priest

“This is a dream come true for me,” Priest said. “My duties now will include recruiting and mentoring the best young veterinarians and share what I have learned from my own mentors. And for the first time I will have a complete support staff of surgeons, ambulatory veterinarians, residents, interns and technicians, plus an outstanding lab and pharmacy in the same building.”

Priest and Park are both experienced surgeons and graduates of Auburn University, graduating in 1976 and 1997, respectively. Priest built his reputation as a partner of the legendary Alex Harthill, once considered the dean of race track veterinarians. Harthill is often said to have had his hands on more Kentucky Derby winners than any other veterinarian in history.

Harthill and Priest were instrumental in the introduction of arthroscopic surgery in the horse, as well as the use of ultrasound, and most recently dynamic endoscopy. Priest continued the practice at the Woodford County clinic after Harthill’s death in 2005 and now counts several of the world’s most successful owners and breeders amongst his clients.

Dr. John and Tonya Park

Park began his practice in Estill County before moving to Winchester, Ky., in 2001, where he established Park Hospital in 2004 and later purchased the Woodford facility. Dr Park honed his surgical skills under his long time mentor, the recently passed Dr. Paul Thorpe. Both Park and Priest enjoyed long term professional relationships with Thorpe, who was instrumental in introducing them in 2004.

Learn more at parkequinehospital.com.

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