Designated comfort or euthanasia rooms in veterinary hospitals have been a growing trend the past few years. But what if you don’t have the space for a standalone room? Should you convert a room in your practice for just this purpose? Our experts’ opinions vary, but their overarching advice was the same: No matter the location, the feel of the space should be secure and comforting for the client and patient in their difficult time of transition.
Dr. Dennis Cloud, a Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board member and practitioner in the St. Louis area, recommends doing what you can to make the space—whether it be dedicated space or multi-purpose—feel as warm and soothing as you can.
“Use warmer colors and put a cozier chair in the space,” he says. Dr. Cloud’s ideal version of this space would be a dedicated area and include a separate exit that clients can use, rather than having to exit back through the main hospital.
Privacy is key for Dr. Ross Clark’s clients. Dr. Clark, a multi-practice owner in Oklahoma and a Veterinary Economics board member, says that although only some of his practices have dedicated rooms, they place an emphasis on privacy. In those rooms that serve a dual purpose, they have curtains that can be drawn to cover any windows in the exam room.
“You don’t need a dedicated room to make it comfortable and private,” Dr. Clark says. “In a regular exam room, you can still turn down the lights, have soft cushions for the pet to lie on, and have something to cover the patient with after they’ve passed.”
From the perspective of veterinary architect Heather Lewis, AIA, NCARB, more importance should be placed on making all the exam rooms more comfortable to help all clients feel more at ease. Every room is an important room where you’re having an important conversation with your client about their pet about their pet’s health, and every room needs to support the client and the health of the pet, Lewis says.
“I don’t necessarily think there needs to be a specific room, but I think when clients have gone into a euthanasia room for this difficult time with their pet, they may not want to come back into that room the next time the visit the hospital,” Lewis says. “Having a more across-the-board approach on making comfortable exam rooms can be successful.”