Over the years, a focus on creating more welcoming, home-like atmospheres has driven design in veterinary facilities to new heights. In some cases, you’d think you’d walked into a spa, not a clinic. This is wonderful for patients but sometimes means that material choices are chosen for aesthetic reasons rather than cleanliness and sterilization standards. This can be a nightmare in the face of an outbreak of infectious disease. Use these tips from Heather Lewis, AIA, NCARB, of Animal Arts in Boulder, Colorado, to keep your hospital pretty as well as cleanable.
> Do: Put cat shelves and boxes in your exam that are easy to clean and disinfect.
> Don't: Install carpeted cat trees that are difficult to keep sanitized.
> Do: Use the variety of new flooring products that are available to make your hospital feel welcoming and warm.
> Don't: Use difficult-to-clean flooring in surgery rooms.
> Do: Create opportunities for dogs to play with water and other enrichment items in boarding areas.
> Don't: Create built-in infrastructure that can't be cleaned and sanitized, like doggy water fountains. Plastic baby pools work well as an alternative.
> Do: Use artificial turf in areas where healthy pets play.
> Don't: Use artificial turf as the only option for play and walking. Concrete or rubber flooring is better for areas where ill dogs are—it’s easier to disinfect. Use turf outside unless it’s well drained—it will get stinky.
> Do: Use natural wood accents for trim, ceilings and cabinets.
> Don't: Use rough wood low on walls or on seating, where it will be hard to clean.
> Do: Create a fancy reception desk with modern, cleanable materials.
> Don't: Use hard-to-clean materials for the desk, such as natural wood. Avoid rough stone as well unless you’re uber-careful with the sealing—it has to be done meticulously.