Looking at the 18,832-square-foot Veterinary Referral Center of Colorado in Englewood, Colo., it's hard to imagine the practice's humble beginnings. In 1991, Dr. Sam Romano's emergency practice merged with Dr. Steve Wheeler's internal medicine practice and Dr. Marlon Neely's mobile surgical practice in an 1,100-square-foot garage. Three years later they added oncologist Dr. Robyn Elmslie, Dipl. ACVIM, and moved into a 5,600-square-foot converted dental facility.
Consulting with clients over a picnic table, housing patients in the restroom, and stacking portable cages to the ceiling may sound like a bad dream to most veterinarians. Dr. Neil Shaw and his team endured this daily reality for more than two years at Florida Veterinary Specialists, a 1,500-square-foot leasehold hospital in Tampa, Fla.
Drivers passing East Lake Veterinary Hospital in Dallas do a doubletake when they see dogs running across the roof of the facility. To offer obedience training in her new practice, owner Dr. Karen Ann Fling added a 2,500-square-foot roof deck. This amenity garners plenty of attention, especially when training classes are in full swing.
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:
When one McDonald's restaurant faced a space dilemma, the owner tore down a wall--and made the building smaller. This may seem like the wrong approach, but the squeeze forced employees to examine traffic flow and suggest improvements. With less space to work, the owner knew everyone would become more efficient.
Are you--and clients--getting bored staring at the same four walls every day? Maybe it's time to give your hospital a new look. If you're not ready to build a new facility, consider an inexpensive design innovation. You'll make your practice a fun, new place again. Choose from such simple projects as a canine agility course or kids' play area to breathe new life into your hospital.