Inside the Small Animal Hospital

Inside the Small Animal Hospital

By Bridget Higginbotham

“Impressive,” “Remarkable,” “Amazing,” exclaimed the visitors as they explored the new UF Small Animal Hospital.

The new building, which opened for business Nov. 1, is anything but small. The three-story, 100,000-square-foot facility is triple the size of the previous hospital and houses more specialties under one roof than any other veterinary practice in Florida.

“There is no greater opportunity to inspire people than a new building,” said Dana Zimmel, D.V.M., interim chief of staff for UF’s Veterinary Hospitals. “You really do feel like you’re on the cutting edge.”

The weeklong festivities showcasing the $58-million facility and celebrating its completion started with an internal dedication Oct. 19. The event for faculty, staff and students featured self-guided tours of the building, refreshments, a ribbon-cutting and speeches by Zimmel, Glen Hoffsis, D.V.M., dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine; Colin Burrows, B.Vet.Med., Ph.D., small animal medicine department chair; and class of 2011 student Jonathan Mathers.

“You don’t get to open one of these very often,” Hoffsis said from behind the lectern set up on the staircase of the spacious lobby. “This is really a historical event.”

The UF Small Animal Hospital is equipped with a linear accelerator./Photo by Jesse S. Jones

After the speeches, guests were free to meander through the different labs, units, suites, departments, treatment areas and study rooms. The north wall of the 140-person conference room overlooking Archer Road is made of huge windows that let in light but not heat. Windows like these are an example of the hospital’s green efforts. Some of the concrete and metal used in construction was recycled. Computers and sensors carefully control the lights and air conditioning. The facility will be one of the first veterinary teaching hospitals in the country to receive a gold certification from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Green Building program, said John Haven, the College of Veterinary Medicine’s senior project coordinator.

The technology in the new facility is on par with neighboring institutions. The time-saving pneumatic tube device that sends samples directly to the clinical pathology laboratory is similar to the one at the Shands Cancer Hospital. The linear accelerator that can be used to deliver conventional fractionated radiation therapy when surgery cannot completely remove a tumor is like the one at the McKnight Brain Institute.

“We definitely have a Cadillac on our hands,” said Charles Courtney, D.V.M., Ph.D., associate dean for research and graduate studies, as he surveyed the Cardiology Catheterization Lab. The lab’s new table moves up and down to accommodate doctors of all heights.

The new machine arm moves 360 degrees so the team no longer has to move the patient and all the tubes for a new view, said Danielle Heatwall, a certified veterinary technician. During his speech, Mathers excitedly talked about all the features for students and residents, such as the individual study rooms and cubicles on the second floor. They’ll be able to observe procedures from behind the glass of the 12 spacious surgical suites and the cath lab. And now that each specialty has its own rounds room, they won’t be fighting each other for space.

“What better way to get us excited about starting a brand new career than a facility as grand as this?” Mathers said.

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