When people shop for used cars, they kick the tires and check under the hood. When they shop for veterinary services, the evaluation is more subtle. But in both cases, they form lasting opinions based on first impressions. That's why it's critical to minimize noise and odor. Simply put, if your clinic stinks, clients may worry that your medical care stinks, too.
Whether you're building a new facility or updating your hospital, don't overlook wall finishes. Wayne Usiak, AIA, a Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board member and principal of BDA Architecture PC in Albuquerque, N.M., suggests you consider these options for your practice:
You know the benefits of offering a complete in-house lab. You--and anxious pet owners--can get quick answers on complex cases, and you can begin treatment immediately rather than hospitalizing the patient until you receive test results the next morning. In addition, owning high-tech gadgets lets you practice high-quality medicine.
You've spent a year researching the benefits of laser surgery, and you think this new service will enhance your practice's surgical options. You've even selected the unit and considered financing options. But have you done all your homework? Before you buy expensive equipment, take time to calculate the financial benefits--and hidden costs.
When you dream about new equipment, also consider replacing existing units that no longer meet your needs. As you compose your wish list, ask these questions to determine whether an item is still efficient:
Q. In my practice's kennel and grooming areas, staff members can encounter noise levels OSHA calls damaging. To keep noise from invading other areas, I've contained it in these sections. Short of a major redesign, how can I reduce exposure?
The World Health Organization estimates that 30 percent of buildings exhibit sick-building syndrome. How can you tell if your hospital suffers from SBS? Your staff may complain of headaches; eye, nose, or throat irritation; itchy skin; dizziness and nausea; difficulty concentrating; fatigue; or sensitivity to odors--symptoms that disappear once a person leaves the hospital. Although such symptoms may indicate another illness, studies show that indoor air pollution can exacerbate health problems.
Q. How does one calculate how much air movement is appropriate in a kennel? I'm concerned that several air exchanges per hour would pump large amounts of heat and air conditioning through the wall we so carefully sealed and insulated. A large window unit cools our kennel; should I allow it to vent at all times? Is an interior circulating fan required to move out stale air?