"Nearly every employee was involved in the process at some point," says Dr. Neuhoff. "And we found that staff members had
a much better grasp of what would improve their areas than the owners did." Dr. Neuhoff says staff members provided many important
design ideas, including an extra large, padded run in the ICU, large bins to hold prescription vials, and a hanging quilt
to cover the fold-up exam table in the comfort room.
The doctors say that architect Wayne Usiak has said in retrospect that Magrane's broad-based involvement really was the key
to their success—even if dealing with 12 staff members at once was a bit hairy. "At the time, involving our whole staff complicated
the process, but we made better-quality decisions," Dr. Doversberger says.
A mural at the front desk emphasizes compassion, quality, service, and pets and people as the practices main concerns. A photo
of a boy and his dog completes the picture.
"Before we went through the design process, I thought that pet owners only cared about how well we cared for their pets,"
says Anita Shultz, pet care specialist and surgery nurse. "I was wrong. Our clients had a lot to say about our hospital's
So it's a good thing the team held focus groups to learn what features clients would love—and which ones they didn't like.
"We've held client focus groups off and on for nearly 20 years," says Dr. Neuhoff. "So it seemed natural to invite 30 clients—20
came—to give input on our practice design."
Clients came up with such ideas as a memorial pet walk, a comfort room with a private exit for client privacy and euthanasias,
outside seating, extra-wide parking spaces to help get pets out of cars, a textured floor to keep pets from slipping, a heated
entry sidewalk, a retail area near the waiting and check-out areas, a window for boarded cats to view the birds outside, and
a custom 12-foot-square mural depicting the human-animal bond. The team implemented all of these ideas.
Staff members use two communication systems to call team members to exam rooms. The assistant call display is mounted to the
ceiling, and the doctor identification tabs are adjacent to each exam room door.
"One client suggested putting bench seating in the exam rooms," says Dr. Neuhoff. "The client thought that dogs would be able
to climb onto the benches, then onto the exam tables by themselves. I never would have thought that would work, but it does."
The team also told the client focus group about ideas they were planning, such as a "show" exam room that would give clients
a view of high-tech diagnostic equipment in the lab and let them observe ultrasounds and other procedures. Equal parts loved
the idea, thought it was OK, and really disliked the idea. The practice owners decided to go ahead with their idea, but changed
the floor plan to provide a semi-private viewing alcove to give clients the choice to watch. They say they generally draw
the biggest crowd when doing pregnancy ultrasounds.
Design through the ages
Magrane Pet Medical Center was a 1973
Hospital of the Year under the ownership of Dr. Harry Magrane. But after two renovations, the doctors decided it was time
to start fresh—and go bigger.