Pay it forward

Pay it forward

Apr 01, 2007

Reception: A greeter's station is bathed in natural light and gives clients a peek into the boarding and training area. Retail and educational displays surround the seating nooks. Dr. Jeanne Eisenhour particularly likes the bright yellow and purple and the high ceilings in this area.
Ever hear the story about the associate who planned to buy out her practice owner? Well, this version turns out differently than you might expect. With Drs. Jeanne Eisenhour and Gary Holfinger, the buyout never happens. Instead, the two doctors get married and become co-owners of three practices. Then they build a stunning new facility, South Suburban Animal Hospital in Perrysburg, Ohio, and win a 2007 Veterinary Economics Hospital Design Competition Merit Award for best large hospital.

Sometimes reality is even better than your best-laid plans, as this couple will attest—and they did a lot of planning for their new 10,597-square-foot small animal facility. The key, they say, is to refine your strategy so you know where you want to be 10 years down the road—and build for that future. "That's so basic, yet so important with this kind of investment," Dr. Holfinger says.

Preparing for the future

Drs. Eisenhour and Holfinger practice what they preach about planning ahead. Five years into their lease on a 2,800-square-foot facility, with the ink still wet on a second five-year deal, the doctors began planning for a larger, freestanding facility.

Hospital Design
They found their ideal site, a lot that sat at the entrance to a new commercial development with three street frontages. One side of the hospital would face the main highway, bringing in tremendous traffic.

The owners' timetable was intentionally long, and they used the time to pay off the real estate loan before they broke ground. Although the doctors also own two other practices that could have been leveraged to bankroll a new facility, they made a rule that South Suburban Animal Hospital would be self-sufficient. And that rule encouraged advance planning.

A look at the numbers
Knowing that they wanted to incorporate a new computer computer system into their paperless practice, the doctors purchased the system ahead of time. "We knew that moving in would be overwhelming enough for us and our staff members," Dr. Eisenhour says. So they bought the system a year in advance and trained the team on the new hardware and software. "Thank heavens we did!" she says. Of course, that was one more expense that the owners completely paid off before occupying the new facility.

Free-flowing design

Boarding: A luxury boarding area surrounds the training and daycare room. The boldly colored word canine leaves no question as to which area of the hospital this is.
After working in a 2,800-square-foot leasehold, these doctors knew the perils of outgrowing their space too quickly. And their business protocol of discharging all clients from the exam rooms instead of the reception desk meant they'd need even more exam rooms.