Jessica Ostermeier Ball-Chatham Veterinary Services!
In rural Pawnee, you will find the Ball-Chatham Veterinary Services, a veterinary practice that focuses on wellness care for their patients. Located at 10659 Warrington Rd, Pawnee, IL 62558, Dr. Jessica Ostermeier, or Dr. Jess as her clients call her, is the owner and veterinarian on staff.
Dr. Jess shared how she got started in this business. “My first experiences in veterinary medicine were as a young farm girl watching Dr. Marion Bliler pulling calves, fixing pigs, and castrating horses. He was the original Dr. Pol, and I was fascinated by everything he did. His love for his profession and the people who cared for their animals piqued my curiosity and quickly took over our family’s dinner conversations. I started riding in the vet truck with Dr. Bliler when I was 15 and I feel so lucky to have had him as my mentor. He was patient and kind and challenged me. He said to me on one of our first farm visit adventures, “You have long skinny arms! Here’s a sleeve. Hop in that crate! I’ll be right here if you need me.” I was hooked on vet med! There was no going back to any other ideas for a career after that.” 
The childhood experience and desire to become a veterinarian didn’t wane over the years. “Fast forward through several years of undergraduate school and veterinary school,” Dr. Jess said, “I graduated with a DVM from the University of Illinois, College of Veterinary Medicine with a special interest in mixed animal practice. My interest in livestock and companion animal medicine laid out a very straight path for me to accept an associate position in two mixed animal practices after graduation. I was very lucky to have amazing veterinarians as my mentors who encouraged me to be bold and go after my goals.”

Being a young woman and wanting to start her own business was rare at the time she shared. “At the time I was considering owning my own practice, it was still very rare for women to own veterinary practices and even more rare for a young woman to start her own practice from scratch.”

“By that time, my husband had moved to the farm (where we currently reside with our two small sons). When I shared my goals with my mom, she gave me insight that only a mom can give. She told me that if I wanted to have a family and still work the crazy long hours that mixed animal medicine requires, I should consider opening a practice at our farm!”

With her mother’s advice in hand, she and her family forged ahead. “My husband and I talked about it and two days later, he had a barn cleaned out and said, “Here’s your new clinic.”  I thought he had absolutely lost his mind. Opening a practice in that little, old, barn was the scariest decision I have ever made, but it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. In January of 2015, we opened our doors to mainly friends and family, offering small and large animal services.”

While starting out working with both large and small animals, that changed when her family came along. “Initially, most of my time was spent traveling to farms to see large animal emergencies. I did this until 2018 when I was pregnant with our first son, Jack. I had a scary incident with a cow when I was pregnant and at that time our family made the very difficult decision for me to stop providing large animal services. I miss being able to travel to farms and see large animals, but it was the right decision for our family.”

“Now, I see small animals (dogs and cats). Our practice strives to provide a high standard of care within the wishes of our clients and their pet’s needs. This approach makes for some very long and difficult days because no two cases are the same, but I feel this is so important to continue in veterinary medicine,” Dr. Jess said.

She loves the variety of what she does and explained what services they offer at Ball-Chatham Veterinary Services. “No two days are the same on our practice schedule. We provide wellness and preventative care which most people know as vaccine appointments, but it is so much more! Wellness and preventative care is a whole patient and lifestyle approach to make sure each individual pet is vaccinated and monitored for health to meet their individual needs. Our practice also provides veterinary dentistry with dental radiography services, which I especially enjoy. This is a passion project of mine that I feel is so under recognized by pet parents. I can prevent or reduce the risk of so many diseases and pain as pets age if we just maintain healthy, clean teeth for them throughout their lives. Our practice also provides soft tissue surgery services such as spays, neuters, mass removals and other basic preventative surgeries for our established clients and patients. These services keep our schedule very full and definitely NOT mundane! “

“Despite how full our schedule can be on a day-to-day basis,” Dr. Jess said, “I often hear from pet parents how quiet and peaceful our clinic is. We even have some pet parents who have chosen to continue care for their pets at our office because they feel their dog or cat is so much more relaxed with us! This always warms my heart to hear. Our team works so hard to provide a calm environment for our patients. Before a pet and pet parent even arrives for their appointment, our team discusses each individual case. We plan out what that patient and pet parent may need to make their visit as relaxed as possible-even a warm fuzzy blanket, smells like lavender to provide calm and relaxing music. Believe it or not, cats like classical and reggae music.  In addition to those fine details, our clinic layout is actually designed to move pets into and out of the office without ever coming in contact with another pet. This makes our office quieter, more relaxed and safer for the pet, the pet parent, and our veterinary team.” 

Dr. Jess has many talented staff members that makes Ball-Chatham Veterinary Services a special place. “Our veterinary team is made up of a group of amazingly talented pet lovers. Each team member plays a specific role in providing the best care for each individual patient. From our client services representative at the front desk to our certified veterinary technician, we all believe in the health and wellness of both our patients and human health. Combined, our small team has over 40 years of experience in veterinary medicine.”

“It might seem like there are many different team members that an individual pet parent sees during a visit,” Dr. Jess explained, “but that is because we delegate very specific tasks to each veterinary team member so that each patient receives the highest level of care we can possibly provide.  This doesn’t always make our schedule easy, but it does provide for as much calm for the pets, their pet parents, and our team as possible. Consistency and follow-up is important to our team members. Being human, we all need time to decompress, enjoy our own animals and visit loved ones and our schedule allows for that. I am so grateful that we have amazing clients who recognize this and continue to support our veterinary practice because they know this makes a difference!”

When asked about her most unusual and exciting cases, Dr. Jess said they were when she was seeing both large and small animal cases 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  “I would drive to one side of the county to see a down cow with milk fever, then turn around and drive back to the office to see a small animal patient for wellness care and then jump in the vet truck to drive to the other side of the county for a sick or colicing horse. This made for a very fast paced and varied day, but it was very stressful and honestly not a sustainable way to practice veterinary medicine for me. My favorite and most memorable cases were usually those that involved helping a momma cow have a calf or pulling 18 piglets from a momma sow. Those were dirty and difficult jobs, but what’s better than watching a newborn calf find their wobbly legs, stand, and nurse from mommy?! Those large animal cases will always have a special place in my heart.”

While the animals take top billing, her family is at the very top of her chart. “Now, my heart goes to my two sons, Jack and Owen and my husband, Dietrich.  We have a small herd of Black Angus and Hereford cows as well as corn and soybeans. Dietrich, which to most he is known as “Dietr,” is a believer in Regenerative Agriculture, which focuses on giving biodiversity back to the soil through the use of livestock and conservation practices. Together, we spend a lot of time discussing what is best for our livestock’s health and the ground they eat and walk on every day. Now that we have two young boys, we are even more invested in these practices. We are overjoyed every day to watch our boys run out the back door to play in the barn (they have their own goats, chickens, a donkey, and a pony). We love to watch them grow and understand what it is to care for another living being. There is nothing better than that! 

For more information about their hours, and availability, log onto Home | Ball-Chatham Veterinary Services or call 217-498-0363.