After 34 years, veterinarian to retire, sell Easthampton Animal Hosptial

  • James Hayden gives Buddy a physical with the help of Lindsay Madru at the Easthampton Animal Hospital. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Veterinarian James Hayden stands with, from left, Donna Storozuk, a veterinarian assistant, Sandy Hayden, secretary, Carol Johnson, secretary and Lindsay Madru, a veterinarian technician, at Easthampton Animal Hospital. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Veterinarian James Hayden gives Buddy a physical exam with the help of Lindsay Madru at the Easthampton Animal Hospital. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • A sign in the parking lot at Easthampton Animal Hospital. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

Staff Writer
Published: 9/17/2018 12:38:24 AM

EASTHAMPTON — Veterinarian James Hayden is going to miss the people the most when he puts down his stethoscope for the final time this fall.

“Mainly you help the people,” the longtime animal doctor said during a recent visit at Easthampton Animal Hospital on Main Street. “They have such attachments to the animals.”

Hayden has been a practicing veterinarian for the last 41 years, 34 of which he has spent as the proprietor of the Easthampton clinic that he founded.

“I love my job and I love the community,” Hayden said. “I was very blessed.”

But this October, Hayden will hand over the reins of his business to veterinarian Kristen Losert and head into retirement.

“I just felt it was the time,” said Hayden, expressing the desire to leave the business on a “good note.”

Currently, Hayden’s practice serves close to 5,000 clients, and he  admits that having another veterinarian on board  would be ideal in handling this load.

“When I have a problem I want it to be my problem,” Hayden said. “That’s why I kept it (a) one-man practice.”

He said that clients are happy for him, though some have expressed disappointment that they’ll no longer get to see their favorite animal doctor.

“They’re happy but they’re sad,” he said.

Hayden isn’t the only person who will be retire from Easthampton Animal Hospital. Receptionist Carol Johnson and veterinary assistant Donna Storozuk, who have worked for 20 and 32 years, respectively, will also retire, as will Hayden’s wife, Sandy Hayden, who has worked as a receptionist at the clinic for 28 years.

“We’re all in our 60s,” Sandy said. 

 “We all decided a long time ago we’re all going together,” said Johnson.

“It’s unheard of now to have people work and stay at a place so long,” said Storozuk.

The women noted how close they are as a group, coming in early to talk with one another and going out to dinner together.

Hayden said that clients open up to him, which he said he was surprised about in the beginning. He also said that talking with people is key in treating their animals.

“They can’t talk, so you have to understand people,” Hayden said.

He also spoke about trust.

“That’s what I built over the last 34 years,” he said.

Asked if the relationships that people have with their animals has changed since he started, Hayden said that people are closer to their animals now. He also said that people are more interested in extending their animals’ lives if they are not suffering and that the technology is now there to do it.

“We can get two or three months,” Hayden said, referring to the end of an animal’s life. “That’s all somebody really wants.”

As for what he’s going to miss the least about his job, Hayden cited the increased regulations in the veterinary field since he began practicing. One that he noted was the requirement that someone be around an animal in the practice’s care 24/7. He said that this rule is good, but that it has prevented the practice from keeping animals overnight, something it could once do.

Hayden also said that there are more specialists in the veterinary field now, such as dermatologists and surgeons.

“We used to have to tackle everything,” he said.

Hayden’s practice is a small animal practice, although he did large animal work earlier in his career.

“No. Not at all,” said Hayden, on if he missed doing large animal work.

Hayden grew up in West Springfield, and attended The Williston Northampton School and Gettysburg College, before going to veterinary school at Cornell, where he earned his doctoral degree.

Hayden decided to set up his practice in Easthampton because a market survey showed that there was a need for it. The decision also allowed him to live in the Valley.

“Five College Area, you can’t beat it,” he said. “It’s everything that we wanted.”

Easthampton Animal Hospital’s building was previously used as a dance studio, and Hayden had it renovated into a veterinary clinic.

Sandy didn’t meet her husband at work, instead being introduced by her veterinarian in Connecticut.

“She fixed us up,” said Sandy.

Hayden said that he is an animal lover and today the couple have a Golden Retriever as well as two cats.

One current employee who is staying in the practice is veterinary technician Lindsay Madru.

“I’m going to miss them all very much,” said Madru. “Because they are like my family.”

Indeed, she’s known her fellow staff members long before she became an employee.

“I’ve known them all since I was a little kid,” Madru said, saying that her parents used to be clients of Hayden’s.

Hayden will stay in Easthampton, where he and Sandy raised their one son, and where he is on the executive board of the of Easthampton Savings Bank, a duty he will continue in retirement.

“I just thoroughly enjoy it,” he said.

As for hobbies, Hayden listed golf.

“Classic doctor at the golf course,” said Hayden.

Bera Dunau can be  reached at

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