The 2002 Hospital of the Year has seen doctors come and go, but the facility lives on.
"It's absolutely beautiful throughout."
"I couldn't find a negative aspect of this hospital."
The judges for the 2002 Veterinary Economics Hospital Design Competition really held back in their praise of the Hospital of the Year: Westminster Veterinary Group in Westminster, Calif. (See the original story in the March 2002 issue.) Drs. Tia Greenberg and Heidi Tschauner wanted a hospital with smooth traffic flow, ample windows to let in the gorgeous Southern California sunshine, and room to grow. They got it all in their award-winning 8,815-square-foot hospital.
So, how are things five years later?
Staff and specialties
"Great," says Dr. Greenberg. The hospital has added three associates, including an associate professor from The Ohio State University who comes in every other week. Dr. Barbara Oglesbee, DABVP, who specializes in small mammal and avian medicine and surgery, was enticed to make the half-country trip regularly by the "diverse exotic caseload, our compliant clientele, and our beautiful facility," says Dr. Greenberg.
That exotic work is going to become the focus of Westminster Veterinary Group. "We already have an avian specialty and a radiologist on staff," she says. "And there are numerous specialty facilities around that can already provide superior care for surgery, oncology, ophthalmology, and dermatology."
And the growth continues. Dr. Greenberg is in the process of adding digital radiography and has plans in the works for adding room for more associates and a 24-hour emergency facility.
Over the past five years, Dr. Greenberg's team has, for the most part, stayed intact. Dr. Thomas Schwartz, an associate, is still practicing at the hospital. But the move to exotics didn't appeal to Dr. Greenberg's former partner, Dr. Tschauner. She moved on to another facility with fewer exotic cases and a lighter work schedule.
With 10 years of practice under her belt when she built the hospital, Dr. Greenberg knew what she'd need in a new facility, and is still happy with how the project turned out. With one exception: the linoleum flooring. In 2002, Dr. Greenberg said the flooring looked nice, but showed dog scratches. And in 2007, she hasn't replaced it yet. "We have a floor company come in every week to maintain it," she says. "It has become very costly."
The freestanding building with a 30-year leasehold, however, is doing everything she wants it to. Besides the flooring, the rest is holding up fine and is just as beautiful as it was on day one. The small palm trees and shrubbery that dotted early pictures of the facility back in 2002 have blossomed, and the California sunshine hasn't disappointed. Dr. Greenberg says the big skylight in the lobby keeps the reception area comfortable in the winter. And it's energy efficient in the summer because extreme heat is rarely an issue in California.
Asked if she'd build another hospital, Dr. Greenberg says no. But she doesn't regret building this one. She applauds contractor Fred Babuscio for taking away some of the agony of building a brand new hospital. Babuscio still checks in now and again to see how things are going, she says. "He was always available, he visited our work site constantly, and he corrected mistakes made by others," she says. "He's striving to improve his future work based on our facility. We'll use him for our remodel in the future."