A grand opening

A grand opening

UF opens new Small Animal Hospital

By Sarah Carey

The College of Veterinary Medicine opened its new Small Animal Hospital Nov. 1./Photo by Maria Belen Farias

UF President Bernie Machen makes a rule of not visiting UF buildings while they are under construction. So, standing inside the UF College of Veterinary Medicine’s new Small Animal Hospital for the first time at the facility’s official dedication Oct. 22 was “an incredible moment” for the UF leader.

The new $58-million facility “takes your breath away,” he said.

Machen said his “favorite vet,” 2009 UF veterinary college graduate Maggie Machen, told him she only wished the new facility had been completed in time for her clinical rotations.

“Sixty percent of American households have pets,” Machen said. “People think of their pets as families, and these facilities really are the nation’s best.

“We can take care of pets that no one else can take care of,” Machen said. “By allowing the college to expand enrollment and for all these other reasons, the new hospital is a wonderful addition to UF, but also to the county, the state and the nation.”

Well-wishers gathered inside the festively decorated atrium of the Small Animal Hospital for the dedication and ribbon-cutting, which also recognized donors for their help in bringing the project to fruition.

“The stars literally lined up,” said college dean Glen Hoffsis, D.V.M., alluding to the many years of hoping, dreaming, talking and planning that passed before the facility could open its doors. “This building we’re dedicating tonight was talked about by at least two deans before me. Over time, we’ll need more veterinarians, and the old hospital facility was a choke point for our growth. We now have the ability to better serve both students and clinical faculty, and most importantly, the animals we care for.”

Dr. Colin Burrows, Dr. John Harvey, College of Veterinary Medicine Dean Dr. Glen Hoffsis, Chief of Staff Dr. Dana Zimmel and UF veterinary medicine student Jonathan Mathers cut the ribbon marking the opening of the new UF Small Animal Hospital.

He called the new hospital “the finest in the world” and thanked the many staff members, current and former administrators, architects, contractors, Florida’s state veterinarian, the college’s alumni council, the Florida Veterinary Medical Association and state legislators for their support.

Larry Cretul, outgoing Speaker of Florida’s House of Representatives, said the event was one of his last official duties.

“Others have called this building the best in the world, and I’ll second that,” he said. “Today we take a major step forward. It’s no secret people love their pets, and from the standpoint of care, there is no better place than here. This new hospital is good for UF, good for the state and good for pet owners.”

In his introduction of David Guzick, M.D., Ph.D., senior vice president for health affairs and president of the UF&Shands Health System, Hoffsis noted the uniqueness UF enjoyed by virtue of being a part of such a major health center, and said the veterinary college faculty, and ultimately, hospital patients, benefited from the collaborations this synergy makes possible.

“There truly is this ‘one health’ idea, and what better place to spearhead that idea on campus than right here,” Guzick said. “Dr. Michael Schaer said to me earlier this evening, ‘This is a shooting star.’ Grab hold of it, and congratulations.”

For more on the Small Animal Hospital’s grand opening, click here.