Unmasking the 2004 Hospital of the Year

Unmasking the 2004 Hospital of the Year

Mar 01, 2004

New Orleans: A city of fun and intrigue, it's known for Mardi Gras parties and parades, King Cakes, the French Quarter, and great Cajun food. The Big Easy is also home to Metairie Small Animal Hospital, which offers up heaping servings of top-notch pet care in a 17,504-square-foot practice designed to fit its surroundings. With a wrought-iron second-story grillwork railing and planters reminiscent of French Quarter designs, the practice, in the heart of New Orleans, harmonizes with its surroundings and serves up friendly, high-tech care. This admirable mix earned Metairie Small Animal Hospital top honors as Hospital of the Year in the 2004 Veterinary Economics Hospital Design Competition.

Meshing eclectic desires With five practice owners—Drs. John Martin, Brian Melius, Christopher Fabacher, Abraham Richmond, and Siegfried Mayer—as well as five associates and 44 staff members, finding a consensus on practice design would seem downright impossible. But somehow, this group made it work.

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"We obviously couldn't have all five owners involved in every step of the process," says Dr. Mayer, who joined the partnership in 1992. "At first we started to divide aspects of the process between all of us, but we realized that wasn't practical."

Instead, the owners chose Dr. Martin, who joined as a partner in 1969, to be the point person. Together the doctors wrote up a wish list that included more boarding, a bigger treatment and recovery area, a special procedures room with ultrasound and endoscopy, a staff lounge, and a retail area. "We looked at our old hospital to decide what to keep and what to change," says Dr. Mayer. "We also enlisted help from other architects and doctors, asking them how to do things, what they liked about their facilities, and so on."

Award-winning floor plan: Metairie Small Animal Hospital
By the time they hired architect Warren Freedenfeld, AIA, the owners had a plan for their hospital. "I sent Warren a book on local architecture, then showed him around the city so he could get a feel for what we were looking for," Dr. Martin says.