Second-generation practice, first-rate care


After 42 years in the same location, Grady Veterinary Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio, has a fresh face but maintains its old spirit.

TO SAY THAT VETERINARY MEDICINE IS A FAMILY AFFAIR for Dr. Jeff Grady would be an understatement. His father, Dr. Karl Grady, founded Grady Veterinary Hospital in 1962. Dr. Jeff Grady also married a veterinarian, Dr. Karen Collins, whose father and sister are veterinarians as well. And his sister, Marsha Weiss, is his practice manager.

Being immersed in the culture of veterinary medicine from a young age taught Dr. Grady a thing or two about running a practice and, indirectly, about building one. "My father converted a house into a small clinic in 1962, and he added on in 1970," says Dr. Grady, a 1990 graduate of the Mississippi State College of Veterinary Medicine. "He added on again in 1977 and remodeled in 1990. So I was no stranger to rebuilding and remodeling the practice."

Reception: Inset: A mural features clients' pets behind the reception desk. Cathedral ceilings, a retail nook, a client refreshment area, and oak-slat bench seating complete the look for this area.

His father also taught him to look for good ideas all the time—not just when you're ready to make a move. "My dad always sought out the top practice in a city and spent a day there when he was out of town," he says. "A lot of our family vacations were to AVMA conferences, and we'd take a day off and see the practices he'd heard good things about in the area. Growing up, I learned a lot more about design than I realized."

When it came time for Dr. Grady to build, he put those good ideas to use. He visited other practices, including his wife's, which had just been rebuilt. He gathered ideas. In keeping with the family theme, he worked closely with John Copich of Copich and Associates—a second-generation architectural firm that had also designed his wife's practice. And as a result of his efforts, Dr. Grady's practice earned a 2006 Veterinary Economics Hospital Design Competition Merit Award.

Grady Veterinary Hospital

Put lessons to work

Dr. Grady briefly considered remodeling the 42-year-old facility. But the house, built in the 1940s, had been patched together so many times that the flow was "really chopped up and terrible," he says. And the original site offered just 14 parking spaces, which made things difficult. In the end, Dr. Grady and Copich decided to build fresh.

Dr. Grady owned a piece of property three doors down from the first facility, a former Exxon station his father had purchased in 1978. Next door to the station sat an empty Perkins restaurant that Dr. Grady maneuvered to buy, but because the owner knew how critical the property was for Dr. Grady, he inflated the price. Dr. Grady arranged to have a friend buy the property for a more reasonable price, then sell it to Dr. Grady to get around the seller.

Surgery: The surgery suite contains three surgery tables. Windows on the opposite wall allow observation from the treatment area. Natural light filters in through exterior windows.

That settled, it was time to get down to the nitty gritty. Having been through a building process two years earlier when his wife built her facility, Dr. Grady had a foot in the door already. He and Copich crafted a similar floor plan. "However, my wife's and my tastes differ," Dr. Grady says. "Her style is more warm and inviting, and while I like that, I'm more conservative. I wanted a more professional, technical image that goes with the emergency work we do."

Remember the past while you look forward

Dr. Grady did, however, borrow plenty of ideas from his wife's practice, including a tub setup for larger dogs featuring cast-in-place concrete with troweled epoxy finish, a central vacuum system with kick-plate dustpans, and glass-block windows in the exam rooms to bring in natural light. "My wife has a beautiful, user-friendly facility," says Dr. Grady. "I saw no reason to reinvent the wheel, so I took many of her ideas and incorporated them into my hospital. Without her decision to build, I'm not sure I would've been as confident about building my new facility."

A look at the numbers

Dr. Grady also relied on his sister, Marsha, the practice manager, to put the finishing touches on the decorating. "She really ran with the whole project and allowed me to make this dream happen," he says. "She's the one who hired our interior decorator and the woman who painted our mural in the reception area. I give her lots of credit for helping pull off this project."

Emphasizing high-tech treatment

In 1974, the original Grady Veterinary Hospital became the area's first 24-hour practice. "My dad was a trailblazer," Dr. Grady says. And now he wants to project that trailblazing image in his new facility, showing off the high-tech care that makes his practice so successful.

Bathing area: Cast-in-place concrete with troweled epoxy finish makes up a durable, functional walk-up bathing area. This time-tested detail has proved a great asset.

One design that showcases this focus: putting the ICU in the treatment area instead of hiding it in a corner of the hospital. "We pride ourselves on 24-hour-a-day care, and that means working cases that are more critical than you might find in a standard practice," he says. Incorporating the ICU as part of the treatment area means all patients are under continuous surveillance. "I can't imagine having this set up in any other way," he says. "And our staff members really appreciate the convenience of the ICU placement."

There are 26 cages in the ICU treatment area, and every other cage features an oxygen outlet for easy access. "The treatment area acts as the hub of our operation and everything flows from there," he says.

Treatment area: Four dry tables, one wet table, and a lift table give team members room to work. The indirect lights and higher ceiling provide an open environment. The area also features multiple drops for oxygen and suction scavenger lines.

All told, Dr. Grady increased parking to 15 client and 32 staff spaces; added a multitude of cages and hookups; and ultimately facilitated better traffic flow. "The issue of circulation was paramount," he says. "The large number of exam rooms called for a design that would minimize doctors' travels from one client to the next, so we wrapped the exam rooms around the central treatment area. The whole design gives us nice flow and is easy to work in."

As he considers his new facility and his practice's history, Dr. Grady points out that his father was always up for change and progress. His own improvements, he says, are in keeping with that mentality. "Dad isn't around anymore, but his spirit is still here and he sets the tone for us," he says. "It doesn't matter which building we're in. It's the people who remind us of him every day."

Sarah A. Moser is a freelance writer and editor in Olathe, Kan. Please send questions or comments to

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