UF Small Animal Hospital Expansion

Small Animal Hospital Expansion


By: Linda Homewood

Approaching its 10-year anniversary in 2020, the University of Florida Small Animal Hospital is experiencing the inevitable growing pains that come from a practice-ready teaching hospital being named as a statewide critical care facility.

This year’s expansion creates much-needed space for training veterinary students in emergency and specialty care to meet profession demands, said Dana Zimmel, D.V.M., an associate dean for clinical services and chief medical officer for UF Veterinary Hospitals.

“As a community veterinary practice partner, the small animal hospital is a teaching model that trains future veterinarians in real time. The College of Veterinary Medicine and the university are proud that we provide the highest level of emergency care as well as basic care,” Zimmel said. “Our students can experience a broad range of veterinary care and specializations from skin allergies and dentistry to emergency surgery and oncology.”

Named a Level One emergency and critical care facility in 2015 by the Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Society, the UF Small Animal Hospital is the only one in the state to hold the certification. The college’s executive director John Haven, who oversees the facility, says the designation recognizes the hospital’s capabilities, driven by UF faculty research, knowledge and expertise, combined with high-end equipment and technology.

According to Haven, the nearly $6 million construction project adds a total area of just under 12,000 square feet to the existing 100,000-square-foot building and is expected to be completed in January 2019.

The new construction makes room for expanded emergency services and critical care needs. Extending the building’s footprint, or in this case — pawprint — the two-story addition will now house primary care and dentistry services. The second floor provides needed faculty offices for the college’s department of small animal clinical sciences.

Emergency care and primary care shared common spaces before the expansion project, but the renovation allows for segmenting these distinct areas of care and patient needs. A designated emergency entrance also will direct pet owners seeking urgent care, which now will be separated from routine care.

The original ground-floor space is being remodeled for efficiency and expanded emergency and critical care services to better accommodate emergency referrals from local and statewide veterinary clinicians and agencies. Pet patients, once stabilized, also can be seamlessly transferred to the appropriate service as required.

Creating new space for primary care and growing services such as dental care, serves a dual purpose, according to Amy Stone, D.V.M., Ph.D., service chief of primary care and dentistry at the UF Small Animal Hospital. It provides dedicated space for cats and dogs in a primary care setting that’s separated from emergencies, and at the same time, it creates an improved learning model for veterinary medical students.

The college admits 120 students each fall, supported by about 130 faculty. Practice-based clerkships with local community veterinarians are a part of the student clinical experience.

The UF Small Animal Hospital’s primary goal is to create a hospital environment that models the same services offered by its community partners who provide needed clerkships that help prepare UF veterinary students to become practice-ready graduates. Stone’s training objective for primary care students is to gain an integrated knowledge in a practice setting.

“I want students to be able to learn everything from the front reception to inventory, to clinical care — to fully understand the way a general practice should function,” Stone said. “As a clinical educator, the college’s mission is to prepare practice-ready graduates, many of whom will start their careers as primary care clinicians.”

With the new and remodeled space, Haven anticipates a budgeting need for the Small Animal Hospital approaching $900,000 for additional equipment and furnishing. The college hopes to inspire its supporters to help raise additional funding through new naming opportunities. Donations starting at $25,000 or more, will allow supporters to create a lasting legacy by naming a new space or service area for cats or dogs, such as waiting, treatment or surgery rooms. Contact advancement@vetmed.ufl.edu, 352-294-4256, for more information about naming options.

Stay tuned for more information!