Your canine patients can transform your practice from calm to chaotic with one yip—and drive your team members from pleasant to harried. Consider these tips to tackle noise during your new construction or renovation.
Your team members are what make your practice run, so give them the tools they need to succeed and to enjoy work. Here's what our veterinary architects have to say about building with your team in mind.
For 34 years, the doctors at Gunbarrel Veterinary Clinic in Boulder, Colo., cared for pets out of an old farmhouse. The building consisted of two exam rooms, a cramped treatment area, and a noisy kennel that shared a wall with an exam room.
"If your clinic stinks, clients may worry that your medical care stinks, too," says Mark Hafen, AIA, an architect with Animal Arts/Gates Hafen Cochrane in Boulder, Colo. "You can't prevent noise and odors from occurring, but you can prevent them from spreading." Hafen, a Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board member, suggests that you:
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.
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?