Top-notch work areas lead to top-notch veterinary care


Designed by family with care in mind, this Alabama practice serves up high-end work spaces in a creative, family-like atmosphere.

Flint River Animal Hospital & Bed ‘n Biscuit by the numbers

Owner: Dr. Kevin M. Lowe

Associates: 2 full-time

Hospital team: 25 full-time, 10 part-time

Practice style: 100 percent small animal

Building size: 11,150 square feet

Parking spaces: 33 client, 32 staff

Construction: $2,358,067 (building only)

Site improvement: $525,736

Professional fees: $285,455

Equipment: $292,301

Furnishings: $52,828 Computers: $64,003

Architects: Primary: Peter J. Hill, Sr., Hill Design Associates Architects, Secondary: Marc Goldmon, Matheney Goldmon Architects,

After several years of working for other doctors, Dr. Kevin Lowe decided it was time to set up shop for himself. This solo practitioner was ready to run the show, but knew he would need help getting started. And who better to help than the people who knew him best? Dr. Lowe's design team consisted of his wife and parents. His father, Mike Lowe, is a retired engineer who headed up the design of the hospital.

In July 2014, Flint River Animal Hospital & Bed ‘n Biscuit opened its doors to the public, with the tagline “Best Care for Pets and Their People.” With that motto at the heart of everything they do, Dr. Lowe and his family designed a hospital that not only offers space to care for pets and clients, but for team members as well.

Blending with their environment: After sending his architect on a drive through the neighborhood to view the practice's surroundings, Mike Lowe and Dr. Lowe chose a combination of stone, wood, and siding for the practice exterior. "We have had clients comment that they are glad we fit into, instead of stand out from, the community," says Lowe. "We think it shows our community that we are here for the duration, and they appreciate that." The craftsman style architecture with earth tones, a roof line accented with multiple gable and shed dormers works well in this neighborhood. The gable-covered reception entrances have stone pillars topped with crafted brackets and mahogany doors.


Judges of the 2015 Veterinary Economics Hospital Design Competition praised the Huntsville, Alabama, practice for offering amazing support staff and prep areas, with high-quality materials and top-notch appliances.


“My son, Dr. Kevin, wanted workstations everywhere a staff member interacted with a patient, from the front desk, to the exam room, to the radiography station, so they could type up notes as they worked,” says Mike Lowe. “He wanted nothing lost in translation.”

Workstations for every action: Access to workstations was a priority for Dr. Lowe, after working in clinics where notes were handwritten and then transcribed later. A focus on placing workstatons in almost every space was key. Each exam room features a computer workstation (1), a large media monitor (2) for client education and reviewing radiographs and ultrasounds, exam tables with a hinged fold-up extension (3) for larger dogs and chairs near the window for client seating.


Dr. Lowe also paid a premium for a commercial dishwasher after having previously forgotten to include one in his original hospital design plans. “The commercial washer costs more, but it's worth it to be able to clean and sterilize a load of dishes every 90 seconds and free up staff members' time for more important things,” says Dr. Lowe's father.

But the most expensive appliance purchased is the one you won't even notice, so long as it's doing its job correctly. A bioclimatic air purification system in both the hospital and boarding facilities provides particle, microbial and odor control.

“The hospital doesn't smell like a veterinary facility at all, and the system removes communicable diseases from the air,” says Mike Lowe. While the cost is significantly higher than standard air conditioning systems, Lowe says the expense is worth it. “We feel that the improvement in the environment for employees, pets and clients is worth the investment,” he says.

Time-saving touches: A central housekeeping space within the boarding facility supports laundry, food preparation and dishwashing. Don't forget to make life easier for your staff members, Mike Lowe says. High-end appliances cost more, but they make the workload easier and let employees get on to the more important work of caring for pets.Here, there are two pedestal-mounted washing machines and two pedestal-mounted dryers (1), a refrigerator (not pictured), a stainless steel work table (2) and a commercial style dishwasher (3).Click here for a full photo tour of Flint River Animal Hospital & Bed 'n Biscuit.

Sarah A. Moser is a freelance writer and editor in Lenexa, Kansas.

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