Separate buildings, interconnected services


Dividing medical and ancillary services into two separate-but-connected buildings allows the team at Intermountain Pet Hospital and Pet Lodge to focus on the tasks at hand and project a more professional image.

Dr. Bob Beede understands the importance of boarding and grooming. These services bond clients, help his team identify health issues early, and add revenue to the practice. "However, the rush of grooming and boarding visits seemed to make medical clients feel that our practice was too busy," says Dr. Beede, owner of Intermountain Pet Hospital and Pet Lodge in Meridian, Idaho.

Intermountain Pet Hospital and Pet Lodge

The solution: Build a separate building for these ancillary services on the same grounds as the medical building to reduce traffic flow through the hospital. With this idea, the Pet Lodge was born.

The 2004 Veterinary Economics Hospital Design Competition judges agreed that Dr. Beede and his team did a good job developing two attractive, efficient plans. And Dr. Beede's vision, executed by architect Randy Haverfield, earned Intermountain Pet Hospital and Pet Lodge a merit award in the design competition.

Divvying up duties

Dr. Beede had owned the building he practiced in for 20 years. During that time, he'd made superficial changes, but in 2002 he revamped completely, building the Pet Lodge, gutting the medical building, and adding on.

With the remodel and addition, the medical facility provides three distinct service areas: the wellness suite, patient care suite for treatment, and hospital patient suites, or wards. The wellness suite houses the reception area, a restroom, six exam rooms, a comfort room, and pharmacy around a group of educational displays.

An example of the wellness suite in action: A client and pet enter the practice, and a client hospitality team member greets the client, accesses the client's file, verifies vital information, and turns the client over to an exam room technician. The exam room technician weighs the pet, then escorts the client and patient to one of six exam rooms. "I borrowed this idea from the Broad Ripple Animal Clinic in Indianapolis," says Dr. Beede.

A look at the numbers

"Dr. David Brunner at Broad Ripple gave me lots of ideas," he says. "I also read Veterinary Economics and visited other clinics in different parts of the country, getting as much information as possible before starting my project. This research really helped me feel comfortable with our plans. If you're planning on building or adding on, I recommend that you find a clinic that's doing things you like. Then spend some time there and tweak their approach to fit your needs."

The hub of the patient care suite is a study with glassed partitions adjacent to work areas. From this central area, which replaces individual doctor's offices, Dr. Beede and his associates can monitor all activities in the treatment area and enjoy easy access to the surgery suite, radiography room, and ICU. The study also features two computer kiosks that doctors use to create patient discharge sheets and print client education information.

Finally, the hospital patient suites offer a relaxing place for patients to recover. Designed with an eye for comfort, the animal wards feature an overhead intercom system so team members can play relaxing music for patients.

Top Left: Pets' first stop is the weigh-in station. Educational displays take a center position in the wellness suite around the scale and the reception desk. Top Right: The patient care suite, or treatment area, is visible from a glassed-in doctors’ station. The area houses surgery, ICU, and dual wet tables for dentistry. The team stores all medications in labeled drawers with slanted holders for easy access.. Bottom Left: Team members use the communication alcove to print client handouts and instructions, fax records, and retrieve files and messages from the reception area. Bottom Right: Wellness exam rooms feature a built-in seating area, wall-mounted computer screens, and built-in refrigerators. All exam rooms have outside windows and a window to the center of the suite.

"As segregated as it sounds, the hospital is really open," says Dr. Beede. "We have patient care at one end of an L shape, with the wellness suite at the other end and the lab in between. Clients can see the treatment area from the hospital entryway. With this open plan, pet owners can see behind the scenes, so they know we're kind to our patients. And the open plan makes for effective traffic flow."

Reaping the rewards of technology

With the expansion, Dr. Beede took the opportunity to include as many high-tech tools as possible—with plans to add even more. For example, the six exam rooms feature wall-mounted computer screens. The computer towers stay under the counter, so all clients see is a mouse and a keyboard.

"I love this setup, because it allows us to make appointments, give estimates, and finalize the bill right in the exam room," he says. "Technology makes a lot possible that you couldn't do otherwise, and the changes help keep practice interesting."

Practice tip

A color laser printer in the patient care suite lets team members print before-and-after photos of pets undergoing dental procedures or images of endoscopy procedures. "We like to print the images, then add client education materials and care instructions for clients to take home," says Dr. Beede. "We used an inkjet printer for this before, but we found that using a color laser printer cuts our ink costs."

Because Dr. Beede had precise ideas about how he wanted his technology to run, he sought bids from several area companies. "One guru told me that no one person or group could do all that I wanted," he says. "So this person put together a team of professionals to make my ideas work. Of course, this approach cost more, but it made my life simpler."

Dr. Beede had the experts install a partial T1 line to send and receive radiographs. He now can download images from his ultrasound machine, endoscope, or microscope and e-mail them to specialists or clients. "Our building is wired for seamless transfer of information between all our systems," he says. "The effort, including training my staff, was well worth it to enjoy our current level of technology and such fluidity of information."

An outdoor exercise area lies adjacent to each wing of the pet runs. Pets enjoy heated concrete slabs in the winter and awnings for sun and weather protection.

In the future, Dr. Beede hopes to integrate tablet PCs to create electronic exam room report cards and to record information about exams, fees, and patient monitoring. "We'll store these sheets in the patient file," he says. "I think good use of tablet PCs with resulting electronic records would reduce lost fees and enhance the consistency of patient care."

Pulling it all together

Of course, it wasn't easy to keep the practice running during construction. To ease the process, Dr. Beede built the Pet Lodge first and moved the boarding and grooming services into this building. Then the team worked out of two 60-foot-long trailers for four months while builders worked on the addition and gutted and renovated the original facility. "Clients showed tolerance with us 98 percent of the time," says Dr. Beede. "A few felt frustrated because they had to park a ways from the hospital, but staff members helped clients to and from their cars. Mostly clients were excited for us."

To encourage clients to get in on the act, Dr. Beede posted plans and drawings around the practice. "They were blown away when the hospital was finally finished," he says. "Some clients drove right by the practice and missed it because it looked so different."

Since the January 2003 move-in day, Dr. Beede has had to double the number of practitioners and add 10 new staff members to keep up with the 30 percent growth—and even 55 percent growth some months. "Expanding the hospital has allowed us to do so much more for our clients and patients," he says. "Today we provide comprehensive dental treatments, advanced diagnostics and surgeries, and more efficient outpatient care and client education."

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

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