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Under one roof


This hospital in Panama City Beach, Fla., finds one home for all its services.

BEFORE, DRS. SCOTT MCLELLAND AND Charles Sleeth practiced in an 1,800-square-foot facility with a thriving boarding service, but they needed a new space. The building couldn't accommodate their growing practice—and the boarding facility was located across the parking lot with its own receptionist, separate from the clinic.

Luxury boarding suite: The luxury boarding area consists of 5-by-6-foot interior resting suites. Each suite has its own theme, with individually designed entrances and color-coordinated ceramic tile walls. The suites also have their own flat-screen televisions and direct access to private outdoor exercise areas through guillotine doors controlled from the interior. (Photos by Amber Jones, Photography by Exposure)

When it came time to plan a new hospital, the owners knew they wanted the practice and a luxurious boarding facility—and everything else their clients needed—under one roof. "We've always liked having a full-service facility where people could one-stop shop for boarding and grooming services, pet supplies, and veterinary care," Dr. McLelland says. "And the hospital is our bread and butter." The new facility has led to an increase in boarding numbers, but Dr. McLelland says the medical side of the practice has seen the most growth. The bigger space allowed for a larger surgical facility, a bigger treatment area with three tables, and an ICU with glass doors so team members can keep an eye on patients throughout the day.

Despite the successful results, the project almost didn't make it off the ground because the hospital owners were worried about making such a big move. "It was a big step," Dr. McLelland says, "But ultimately, we knew we needed to make the jump." With no room to grow in their old facility, Dr. McLelland says their efficiency and ability to work was compromised, so they did what their business needed—and eventually, the rewards followed.

Hanging tough

It was a tough few years when the project was under development, and once the team moved into the new building, they had to make some adjustments. One of the owners' must-haves was a flushing drain system in the boarding kennels. Initially, there were some issues with the system—specifically, toys would get caught in the troughs. But the hospital owners instituted a new policy about the size of toys that boarders could have in their kennels, and this has minimized the problem.

Animal Care Center of Panama City Beach

Of course, making sure team members communicate this guideline and keep it in mind when checking in boarding clients is key. "It's a little bit of a headache," Dr. McLelland says. "But compared to what it was like at first, it's not bad." Despite the problems with the plumbing, Dr. McLelland says the flush system has improved his team's efficiency and he wouldn't change a thing.

Another challenge that cropped up as the team settled into the new facility was adjusting to the new floor plan—it required some restructuring of how the receptionists worked. Part of the solution was that client check-in and checkout now take place in separate areas. Drs. McLelland and Sleeth added another receptionist to the team, so now one receptionist handles check-in, another handles checkout, and a third answers phones and routes calls.

Sky high: The ceiling in the waiting area has clerestory windows to let in natural light.

Settling in

Overcoming challenges and making the leap by moving all of their services under one roof has led to a more pleasant working environment for the whole team. The employees are thrilled with their new digs, and Dr. McLelland says he's happier in the new environment, too—and clients have taken notice.

For felines only: The cat hospital ward has glass block windows to let in natural light. The playroom gives feline boarders the option of getting exercise-or rest, if preferred. The custom-designed cat tree in the boarding room has individual cubbies arranged in a spiral shape so cats can climb up or down.

For felines only: Boarding playroom has glass block windows to let in natural light. The playroom gives feline boarders the option of getting exercise-or rest, if preferred. The custom-designed cat tree in the boarding room has individual cubbies arranged in a spiral shape so cats can climb up or down.

Reception area: Upon entering the hospital, clients check in at reception but check out in a separate area located next to the reception desk. Separating the two functions has improved the flow of client traffic and eased congestion at check-in.

Consultation room: This area serves several functions as a consultation and education room, and also an exam room. Its location near the exit also makes it ideal for use as a euthanasia and bereavement room.

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