Q&A: What kind of doors should I install in my practice's entryway?

Jun 01, 2011

Q: What kind of doors should I install in my practice's entryway?

The entry door is the most important door in your hospital, says Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board member Dan Chapel, AIA, of Chapel Associates Architects in Little Rock, Ark. Everyone sees it and everyone uses it. It’s also one of the most abused spots in your hospital—dogs will jump on it, clients will bang it with a cat carrier, and kids will leave tiny fingerprints all over it.

For maximum style and durability, stick with the old classics, Chapel says: glass, metal, or fiberglass. These materials stand up well to claws, leashes, and clumsy clients, and cleaning them is as simple as wiping with a damp rag. If you’re building a quaint, New England-style hospital, you might want a paneled, rustic-looking door. If you prefer a more modern look, go with glass. You could even consider a hybrid door with glass panels that don’t extend all the way to the floor.

Most practices should stay away from double doors and automatic doors, Chapel says. Double doors tend to pinch tails and little fingers, and automatic doors pose an enormous risk for clients with larger dogs that can trigger the sensors. “Clients are thinking about other things when they’re in your hospital,” Chapel says. “Before you know it, the dog has bolted out the door into traffic.”

A final note: Don’t fall into the trap of thinking your door will be maintenance-free, Chapel says. You’ll need to make sure it always looks clean and professional, so if it begins to look worn, give it a fresh coat of paint. Make sure it opens and closes easily and that the hinges are free of those dreaded, ear-piercing squeaks.